41113_rubinrubio_isi_isida120212239 John Dorton//isiphotos.com
U-17 CONCACAF Championship

U-17s Hope to Win Group C Against Guatemala

Richie Williams' young team can finish on top of the group with a win or a tie against Guatemala on Thursday night. Josh Deaver previews a match in which the Americans should be able to get a result.
BY Josh Deaver Posted
April 11, 2013
1:05 PM
REMINDER: Coverage of the match on FOX Soccer will be broadcast with a one-hour tape delay. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. ET but televised coverage will not begin until 7 p.m. The full match will be shown, but avoid spoilers if you can.

With a place in quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Championship already guaranteed, the United States U-17 national team looks to top Group C with a win or a draw against Guatemala on Thursday night. That would set up a match with the runner-up of Group D—either Mexico or Honduras—on Sunday for a spot in the under-17 World Cup.
Guatemala, similar to Haiti, employs a 3-5-2 formation and will look to exploit the numbers advantage in U.S. midfield. The back four for the Americans will also have to watch Los Chapines capable attacking duo of Mario Hernandez and Christopher Ortiz. The pair combined for all three goals in a comeback victory against Haiti on Tuesday night.

The defensive corps for the Stars and Stripes is not likely to change. Captain Shaquell Moore and John Requejo Jr. man the outside, with Conor Donovan and Tommy Redding reprising their roles in the middle. Goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell, solid against Haiti, will be back between the pipes for the U.S.

In the midfield, the positive contributions of Joel Sonora against Haiti may give pause to Williams when filling out his roster sheet. When Sonora entered midway through the second half, the Boca Juniors youth standout helped the U.S. control the midfield with positive possession and good linkup play, eventually wearing down an athletic opponent. His addition also allowed Corey Baird to play out wide in attack and take advantage of the ample space ceded by the three-man backline of Les Grenadiers. This strategy could very well be employed from the opening whistle on Thursday night.

Rubio Rubin and Ahinga Selemani should both retain their positions up top in the U.S. 4-3-3 formation. If Sonora or Junior Flores enters in the midfield, expect Alan Winn to sit in favor of Baird. If the U.S can get the game in hand,’97 strikers Sebastian Elney or Mukwalle Akale may also get a run.

Despite the possibility of facing arch rival Mexico with World Cup aspirations hanging precariously in the balance, head coach Richie Williams has his squad focused on the task at hand. “We want to go out for the win, because we want to get good position when we play Honduras or Mexico. We want to go out for a win, have a positive mentality and try to get a good result,” Moore said after training on Wednesday.

Backline partner John Requejo Jr. added: “We know all we have to do is tie, but we are looking at going into every game as ‘we need a win’, so that’s what we are going to do.”

Caldwell; Requejo Jr., Redding, Donovan, Moore; Martin, Sonora, Lema; Baird, Selemani, Rubin

Josh Deaver is a former academic turned soccer obsessive. Follow him on on Twitter.

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