Josh Sippie has a look at the players that stood out during the U17 World Cup quarterfinal that finished USA 1-4 England.
Any match-up between England and the USA in any sport and any format is going to be something to pay attention to, and the quarter-final match between their respective youth sides in the U17 World Cup lived up to expectations.
Coming into the match, England was fresh off a penalty shootout win over Japan, a match that had appeared to swing in Japan’s favor. However, with Japan unable to take advantage of a tiring England side, the resolution came when the Three Lions put home all five of their penalties and Japan converted just three.
The United States was nearly the complete opposite, as they were coming off a thunderous thumping of Paraguay, winning 5-0 behind a hat trick from PSG starlet and son of George, Timothy Weah.
Each side had registered three clean sheets each until this point, touting solid defenses, with the U.S. keeper Justin Garces only being forced into making eight saves up until this match. He would double that number during the course of this match.
Each side also had a key absence, as the U.S. was without midfielder Chris Goslin, who was serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation, and England was missing Jadon Sancho, who was pulled back to Dortmund despite having already notched three goals in the tournament.
England came out gangbusters in this one, controlling the first 20 minutes and pressing the U.S. into countless mistakes. They pounded home two goals via Rhian Brewster, one off of a perfect assist from Phil Foden, and the U.S. was struggling to answer. They couldn’t seem to break the intense press by the three-lions.
That changed in the 20th minute or so, and the U.S. started to find space. They had two gaping chances missed by Timothy Weah and Ayo Akinola, two chances that would come back to haunt them.
The second half was largely the same story. England dominated early on and found another goal, this time assisted by the man of the match Rhian Brewster and slammed home by Wolverhampton product Morgan Gibbs-White.
The U.S. would answer shortly thereafter at long last, as Josh Sargent, who had already hit the crossbar as well as skimming another chance over the top of the net, found a rebound land at his feet, which he coolly put home.
More chances would follow for the U.S., but England proved too talented to handle. They did not let up for the entirety of the match and even nabbed a fourth goal via a penalty in stoppage time, giving Brewster the hat trick.
There was plenty to see in this match, and plenty to see in individual performances too, so here are the standout performers of the match.
The U.S. simply didn’t have an answer for the Liverpool man, as he proved himself capable of so many striking facets. His first goal was a product of him dropping back and anticipating a rebound, which he got and deposited into the top corner.
The second goal was a result of him leading the charge, receiving a pass and chipping U.S. keeper Justin Garces, who could do nothing with it.
His assist was a beautiful whipped effort that Gibbs-White had no choice but to score with. And then came the penalty, which he couldn’t have made look any easier.
Brewster made everyone forget that Jadon Sancho wasn’t out there. He was everything for this England attack and made a very talented and stoic U.S. defense look like shredded cheese.
England found so much joy down the flanks between Manchester City’s Phil Foden and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi. The U.S. looked to be running in mud compared to these two. Between the two, Hudson-Odoi has been the more dominant player of the tournament thus far, but it was Foden who stepped up on the day, delivering a key assist to Brewster – an assist that deserves just as much credit as the goal itself.
Foden found so much space on his side, and when it wasn’t there already, he created it for himself. He was full of creativity and there was no answer for him.
Whereas the dynamic U.S. wingers Weah and Akinola found trouble hanging onto the ball at times, Foden was undaunted. His ability to stay controlled and calm over the ball, even in high-speed counters, made him a threat that could not be stifled.
For as powerful as this England attack looked – and they looked damn powerful – none of this would have been possible, or as momentous, had the defense not upheld their end of the bargain. And of course, right in the middle of that defense was Joel Latibeaudiere.
The captain of the U17 side, Latibeaudiere was the definition of a defensive sentinel. He defended flawlessly, never letting anyone in behind him and never putting himself in any nervy moments. He commandeered that back line to stay composed against a U.S. attack that boasts just as much firepower as the Three Lions.
Latibeaudiere had to deal with 20 shots and eight corners form the U.S., which is quite the workload, yet the only ball that managed to beat them was an unfortunate ricochet that happened to find the U.S. captain, Josh Sargent.
He looked like prime Vincent Kompany out there for England, which has to make Manchester City smile.
The United States, for as lopsided as the score-line looks, created just as many chances as England, if not more. And while Weah was stifled early on, it’s who steps up when needed most that really grabs attention and Weah was that guy.
Fresh off of a hat trick against Paraguay, Weah found himself, along with fellow winger Akinola, unable to break down the flanks. This, in turn, led to Josh Sargent going silent for large portions of the match, as he was devoid of any sort of service.
But when the U.S. went down 3-0, the ball was fed to Weah time after time and he showcased what it is that makes him so special, sending in perfectly weighted over-the-top balls and highlighting his physical and mental aptitude when in possession of the ball.
He did have two chances in particular where he was in front of goal, created almost entirely by himself, that he probably should have put away for goals but it’s clear who the U.S. turns to when they need to turn a match around.
- MLS U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Season 2017: Talent Radar - December 13, 2017
- Scout Report: Weston McKennie | Schalke’s American stalwart - November 7, 2017
- K-League U-22 Young Players’ Team of the Season 2017: Talent Radar - October 23, 2017