It was a disastrous beginning to the 2019 U-17 World Cup for the United States Under-17 national team. Gianluca Busio opened the scoring in the third minute, but optimism quickly gave way to despair as Senegal netted four consecutive goals. There are questions being asked of Raphaël Wicky’s side that looked so cohesive on the attack and defensively sound in the recent CONCACAF Championship, but there is little time to answer them.
The U.S. was limited to three shots on goal, despite having a largely wasted possession advantage. Senegal ran through the opposing midfield and defense, dominating the overwhelmed Americans in the air and on the counter-attack. As noted by Brian Sciaretta for American Soccer Now, this match “highlights the need for a defensively strong No. 6 midfielder.” Goalkeeper Damian Las faced 11 shots on target, but had a forgettable performance due to what some considered to be hesitance on the second goal and a few unlucky rebounds. It was a bad start to the World Cup, but not a statistically insurmountable one to overcome, as four out of six third place finishers advance to the knockout rounds.
The road should only get tougher from here in the tournament’s toughest group, as the debutante Senegal side – who only managed to qualify following the disqualification of another nation – was considered to be a comparatively lighter opponent. Next up is Japan, the Asian confederation champions, who dominated UEFA U-17 giants the Netherlands, 3-0. In its first match, manager Yoshiro Moriyama’s side focused on “applied pressure to deny the [other team] from building their plays while creating chances from counterattacks,” a strategy somewhat similarly applied by Senegal. The Samurai Blue is led by attackers Yamato Wakatsuki and Jun Nishikawa, both of whom have already made their J1 League debuts.
United States lineup:
How to Watch
Advertised Kick-off Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 4:00 p.m. Pacific
Venue: Estádio Kléber Andrade - Cariacica, Espírito Santo, Brazil
Available TV: FOX Sports 2, NBC Universo
Available streaming: FOX Sports GO, Telemundo Deportes, FuboTV (Free Trial)
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