The U.S. U-17 team was dealt a devastating blow by South American foes Argentina.
The States struggled to come up with answers to the Latin Americans’ trickery and all too often landed themselves in trouble with careless play.
“We were too naive in our decisions and the way we played today,” Head coach Wilmer Cabrera said. “When you play against Argentina you cannot be soft.”
The game looked like an even contest early on and the US even had the better of the early exchanges.
On ten minutes the US switched across midfield and left winger Carlos Martinez cut inside and laid a measured ball into the path of Juan Agudelo.
Agudelo wasted no time in unleashing a powerful drive from just outside the box which the Argentine keeper could only spill into Charles Renken’s path.
Renken made no mistake with the finish but the effort was dubiously ruled offside by the linesman.
Five minutes later Marlon Duran’s fizzed ball out to the right flank was collected by Luis Gil who lashed a cross along the six yard box.
Juan Agudelo managed to connect at the far stick but could not find the target from a tight angle.
Moments after this chance the Argentines began taking control of the match and were rewarded with the game’s first goal.
A freekick from just outside the corner quadrant was drilled in low by Argentina’s Ezequiel Cirioliano. The delivery was allowed travel beyond the near post and US captain Perry Kitchen’s attempted clearance ended up in his own net.
It was a sorry way to concede, especially given the authoritative manner the US had defended set-pieces in the win against Bolivia on Monday.
“If you make one mistake Argentina are going to punish you,” Cabrera said. “We made silly mistakes and did not show enough personality.”
A second goal for Argentina followed four minutes later when the skillful Daniel Villalva evaded the attention of the American defense and slipped the ball to Sergio Arawjo.
With the backline torn away by the movement of Villalva it was a simple finish for Arawjo as he passed it through Edwards’ legs from ten yards out.
The US had just cause to feel aggrieved at the 2-0 scoreline as Argentina had only really threatened their goal twice so far.
The States did their best to remain positive in their play and Carlos Martinez in particular was central to a lot of good play.
“We could have been more defensive but that is not the idea,” Cabrera said after the match. “We have to learn and make adjustments when were are playing against a top team.”
Argentina did strike again before the first half was over and again the US only had themselves to blame.
A skewed clearance by Earl Edwards fell to Argentina’s Jorge Balbuena on the half hour mark. The midfield lynchpin wasted no time getting in the box, skipping past a challenge from Zachary Herold, and blasting the ball inside the near post.
The Argentinean team were playing with such poise and effortless technique that it looked as if more goals would come sooner rather than later.
But the US stuck to their task and continued to work hard at their task, encouraged by Cabrera shouting instructions from the technical area.
The coach laid off making wholesale changes at halftime but did introduce Joseph Shinsky on the left hand side.
Shinsky combined well with left-back Tyler Polak and managed to create a few opportunities for the States.
It was from a Shinsky cross that the US pulled one back when Renken was allowed to head home after the high ball had eluded everyone else.
The officials could have no complaint with this strike on twenty minutes from time and it was allowed to stand.
The Argentines did not take too kindly to losing their clean sheet and in the next minute three substitutes combined to make it 4-1.
“We were naïve to the counteract,” Cabrera said. “Not making tackles and stopping the game at the right time.”
The rout was completed five minutes from the end when Edwards could only take the pace off an effort from Diego Martinez and Eduardo Rotondi was allowed to force the ball home.
Argentina’s head coach Jose Luis Brown, a scorer in Argentina’s World Cup final win in Mexico 1986, knows he has a special squad on his hands.
“We are a very confident team and we are a country which is very passionate about football,” The coach who worked with Argentina’s 2008 Olympic gold medal team said. “When we play we respect every team because we know everyone wants to beat Argentina.”
Wilmer Cabrera looked to Friday’s game against Uruguay for positives and is looking for a big reaction from his team.
“It is a good learning experience for the team, I know how much it hurts right now,” The head coach said. “But in order to learn from an experience like this you have to feel it. We will be back on Friday.”
Tim Sturtridge, Goal.com