The U.S. Under-17s withstood two late red cards and a penalty kick to hold off El Salvador yesterday in the CONCACAF quarterfinals and clinch a berth in this summer’s U-17 World Cup in Mexico (June 18 to July 10).
Alejandro Guido opened the scoring for the Yanks just four minutes in, but El Salvador quickly equalized, getting a goal from Jose Pena in the ninth minute.
Things got dicey for the U.S. from that point forward, even though they produced a 17-4 advantage in shots.
El Salvador provoked a couple of excellent saves from U.S. keeper Fernando Pina in this do-or-die qualifier. (The Americans’ record streak of 13 consecutive berths in the U-17 World Cup was on the line; they are the only nation to have played in every edition of the tournament.) The U.S. created chances as well, but neither team could find the net again in regulation.
In overtime, though, Marc Pelosi and Guido took over for the Yanks. Pelosi made a nice run down the left in the 95th minute before unselfishly putting it on a platter for substitute Mario Rodriguez (who started the play) to bury and make it 2-1, U.S.:
Twelve minutes later, after some brilliant work by Guido at the edge of the box, Pelosi tucked home to make it 3-1 U.S.:
Game over, right?
Hardly. Soon after Pelosi’s goal, U.S. left back Kellyn Acosta (who’s only 15, btw) was sent off for picking up his second yellow card, and then American netminder Pina was booted for fouling El Salvador’s captain, Diego Galdamez, in the box. This gave El Salvador a penalty and reduced the U.S. to nine men.
El Salvador’s goal-scorer Pena was also sent off for retaliating against the U.S. keeper, making it 10-on-nine in favor of the Salvadorans.
Geraldo Iraheta put the penalty away to cut the U.S. lead to 3-2 in the 120th minute, but El Salvador never threatened in three minutes of stoppage time.