News analysis

U.S. U-17 team falls to Mexico in CONCACAF final & much more

The U.S. U-17s played well but lost to Mexico in the CONCACAF final. Also, Lynden Gooch and Duane Holmes are heading to Wembley looking for promotion. Meanwhile, Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris both have injury concerns at a bad time ahead of the Gold Cup. 
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
May 17, 2019
10:00 AM
FRIDAY IS HERE and it was a busy weekend in American soccer with the conclusion of the CONCACAF U-17 championships and some important games both in MLS as well as in a slew of European games as well.

Here is some takes on what has transpired.

U-17s fall to Mexico in U-17 final

The U.S. U-17 team lost to Mexico in the final of the CONCACAF Championship after Mexico scored the second half of extra time for a 2-1 win.

It was a difficult pill for the American players and fans to swallow but the tournament was still an overall net positive by a pretty wide margin. For one, the team qualified for the World Cup. Second, it played very attractive soccer as the tournament progressed. Three, this was only the first time it had played games under new coach Raphael Wicky. The team seemed to grow a lot under his leadership in a short period of time and heading into the World Cup, he will only have more time to work with the squad.

But it was also a learning lesson for the American players. The team was incredibly wasteful against Mexico and hit the post three times in the first half. The final shot that hit the frame was from Giovanni Reyna who had a very open net to shoot from close range. If this team can only be slightly improved with its finishing, it beats Mexico rather easily. The U.S. team was wasteful and paid a big price.

By the second half and into extra time, the U.S. team was clearly fatigued and Mexico found its way into the game. But that should improve as Wicky grows in his understanding of the team and what approaches fit the players best.

But it shouldn’t be lost that the U.S. team showed a lot of competence in important areas of the game – which is critical when judging a U-17 team. They were making nice passes, their movement was smart and effective, and they were playing defense and winning possession. Seeing the U.S. team play well in these fundamental areas is more important than the result.

The U.S. team will now get to head to Brazil for the U-17 World Cup which will offer a far bigger opportunity.

Key games among Americans abroad

Most of the European leagues are almost over and in England, the drama is now centered on the promotional playoffs among the lower leagues. Two notable Americans have been playing part in Sunderand’s Lynden Gooch and Derby County’s Duane Holmes.

Over the past two games, both teams clinched a spot in Wembley for their’ league’s playoff final. Derby County will take on Aston Villa on May 27 and Sunderland will face the winner of Doncaster and Charlton Athletic.

The Derby County win over Leeds United was a sensational comeback. After dropping a 1-0 loss at home, Derby fell behind on Wednesday 1-0 away at Elland Road. Trailing 2-0 on the aggregate, Derby scored four goals for a 4-2 (4-3 aggregate win) on the road.

For Duane Holmes, the performance was uneven and the Georgia native was actually substituted out in the 44th minute. The player who replaced Holmes, Jack Marriott, scored second after entering in the game just before the halftime whistle. It was just the third game back for Holmes from an injury which kept him out nearly a month.

The highlight for Holmes, however, was afterward when he posted a video of his head coach Frank Lampard celebrating in the locker room by singing a chant that Leeds fans had been directing at him.

As for Gooch, he came on for Sunderland on Thursday and played the final 21 minutes of a 0-0 draw against Portsmouth which preserved the 1-0 Sunderland win from the first leg (which Gooch started). Now the Santa Cruz native will be looking to help his club return to Championship after two consecutive relegations.

In Belgium, Ethan Horvath and Club Brugge lost to Standard Liege 2-0 on the road. That result combined with Genk’s 1-1 draw at Anderlecht clinched the title for Genk. Club Brugge has long since clinched second place and will be playing in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers.

Finally, Werder Bremen announced that American forward Aaron Johannsson will not return to the club after spending most of the past three seasons injured. The club acknowledged that it appreciated Johannsson’s perseverance and will reward him with a send-off in the season finale at home against Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig.

Midweek MLS: injuries and goals

There weren’t many surprises in the midweek slate of games in MLS as most of the favored teams won.

New Portland Timbers designated player, forward, Brian Fernandez scored in his debut

Atlanta United is still not firing on all cylinders but is winning consistently. A 1-0 win over Vancouver on the road was the team’s fifth in a row. While it is not scoring goals in droves like it did last year, the team has not conceded a single goal in its five-game streak. It’s a complete team at the moment and de Boer is beginning to have an effect.

DC United and Toronto played to a scoreless draw that was almost comical in how lopsided it was. Toronto outshot DC United 35-3 and had 71% possession (and it seemed like a lot more), but somehow couldn’t find the back of the net. Alejandro Pozuelo is a brilliant midfielder in this league but Jozy Altidore is critical for Toronto’s success. Altidore this game with yet another injury – his heel.

Speaking of injuries to U.S. internationals, Jordan Morris was removed from Seattle’s 2-1 over Orlando on Wednesday with a pulled hamstring. That adds yet another concern to for U.S. boss Gregg Berhalter. In the loss, however, was this very nice goal from Orlando’s Chris Mueller who is one of the more underrated players in the league.

Finally, Dallas has hit a bit of a rough patch with its third loss in a row. Yes, the team is without Paxton Pomykal and Edwin Cerillo but right now there is simply no stopping Los Angeles FC which won 2-0 at home on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Carolos Vela might just finish with the best season in league history. With is 39th minute goal to open the scoring, the Mexican now has 13 goals and seven assists in 13 games/1159 minutes.

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