April 14, 2013
A STUNNING DEFEAT
U.S. falls to Honduras in CONCACAF U-17 semifinals, failing to reach FIFA U-17 World Cup for 1st time
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- For the first time ever, the United States has failed to reach the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
Honduras made sure of that by producing the biggest upset of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship by registering a 3-1 quarterfinal victory over the Americans to clinch a berth in the FIFA competition and a semifinal spot in the CONCACAF tournament on Sunday night.
The Americans were the only country that had participated in every FIFA U-17 world championship, having qualified a record 14 times.
Honduras will play the winner of the Mexico-Guatemala match in the semifinals on Wednesday. The Mexicans met the Guatemalans in the second game of a doubleheader at Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
Christopher Alegria, Alberth Elis and Kevin Alvarez scored for the Central Americans, who defeated the U.S. for the first time in eight meetings in the U-17 championship. Honduras entered the match with a 0-7-0 record vs. the U.S.
Directed by former Red Bulls assistant coach Richie Williams, the Americans dominated the early part of the game, but they could not show anything from their efforts.
With the match barely three minutes old, the U.S. had the first opportunity as Shaquell Moore headed a close-range shot at the far post off a corner kick that goalkeeper Cristian Hernandez saved.
Corey Baird fired a left-footed shot that bounced to Hernandez, who bobbled the ball a bit, but covered up for his second save in the 10th minute.
Three minutes later, Hernandez was up to the task again, denying Joel Sonora from eight yards.
The Hondurans got back into the swing of things, placing their first shot on goal in the 18th minute. Devron Garcia tapped captain Luis Santos a free kick and Santos launched a low shot that went right to goalkeeper Jefferson Caldwell.
Brayan Velasquez broke through the U.S. defense in the 26th minute and raced in on Caldwell, who managed to knock the ball away before the Honduran could get off a shot. Velasquez was injured on the play and limped off the field before rejoining the action minutes later.
The Honduras grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute on a screaming, 30-yard drive by Alegria. Alvaro Romero, on the left flank, passed the ball to an unmarked Alegria toward the middle of the field and he fired a line drive that Caldwell got a hand on, but could not stop from going into the far right corner.
Sonora equalized for the U.S. in the 45th minute. An onrushing Sonora took a pass from Christopher Lema and as Honduran players converged on him sent a 30-yard rocket to the near left post for a 1-1 tie.
In the 57th minute, Velasquez sent a diagonal pass to an onrushing Elis, who beat defender Thomas Redding to the ball, before he tipped it past Caldwell from six yards for a 2-1 lead. An exuberant Elis took off his blue shirt to celebrate as referee Henry Bejarano of Costa Rica awarded him a yellow card.
Elis almost gave the Hondurans a two-goal lead off a counterattack in the 66th minute. He raced down the field with U.S. defender John Requejo Jr. and fired 12-yard blast that hit the underside of the crossbar. The game officials ruled that the ball did not cross the goal line and play continued.
However, Honduras did give itself some breathing room only two minutes later. This time Alvarez powered home a 28-yard rocket off a free kick to the left near post past a leaping Caldwell for a 3-1 lead. Alvarez also took off his shirt to celebrate his goal and was assessed a yellow card.