United States exit Under-17 World Cup after Chile defeat
The final blow to the United States’ ill-fated trip to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup arrived with a flick of the hand from a Chilean forward. Gabriel Mazuela masked his intentions well enough to get away with it. Mazuela swept home from along the endline to grab the decisive second goal just after halftime and send the Americans spiraling to a 4-1 defeat on Friday.
Brandon Vazquez staked the Americans to the ideal start with his opener after 10 minutes, but it proved a false dawn. Chile equalized through Marcelo Allende after 20 minutes and grasped firm control of the proceedings from there. Mazuela’s disputed second prompted a good American response, but the Chileans held out inside their own half and padded the margin of victory on the counter through Gonzalo Jara and Camilo Moya.
Those goals might aid Chile in their quest to advance as one of the top four third-place finishers, but they exacerbated the Americans’ pain. This trip ended with just one point from three matches and sent the Americans home with plenty to ponder after this early exit.
The urgent circumstances prompted a bright start from the Americans as they searched for the victory necessary to confirm a place in round of 16. Vazquez turned a Christian Pulisic header just wide of the far post as the U.S. asserted control in the early stages. Those endeavors combined with some shoddy Chilean defending to produce the opener after 10 minutes.
Luca De La Torre instigated the danger by closing the scruffy Chilean attempts to play out of defense and winning the ball in the final third. De La Torre saw his attempted through ball to Vazquez cut out on the edge of the penalty area, but Vazquez stabbed the ball through the line to sustain the play and stroked into the net to score for the second consecutive match.
Chile responded immediately by grasping complete dominion in possession and wielding it with considerable intent. The host nation’s ability to keep the ball and vary its approach play ultimately led to the equalizer after minutes.
Once again, the inability to clear the line sparked problems at the back. Danny Barbir scuffed his attempt to whack a cross clear from the left. Mazuela collected and forced a deflection straight to the feet of Allende. Barbir strained to block Allende’s resulting shot and diverted it inside the far post instead.
Allende’s riposte restored parity on the night and ushered in a bright Chilean period before halftime. The hosts spent most of that time operating deftly in possession without posing much of a threat in front of goal, though Manuel Reyes forced William Pulisic to parry away his effort from distance shortly before the interval.
The pressure inevitably told after halftime, though the method of the breakthrough incited a furious response from Pulisic and the Americans.
Their grievances were well founded, even if the buildup caught out the defense too easily. Brian Leiva created the initial problem with a ball behind the line. Pulisic came out to claim in front of Mazuela, but he failed to gather cleanly. Mazuela poked the ball away from Pulisic with his hand and rose quickly to slot into the vacated net.
It took several minutes for the Americans to cast their fury to one side and settle back into the rhythm of the game. They eventually found their footing as Williams altered the shape to a 4-4-2 and made a couple of attacking substitutions. The cohesiveness in possession improved and laid the foundation for a push inside the final 20 minutes.
As the minutes ticked away, the Americans posed more and more of a threat and ventured further and further forward. Vazquez evoked a necessary clearance with a glancing header. Christian Pulisic provoked a necessary save from Zacarias Lopez at the near post in the late stages.
All of those endeavors inevitably left the Chileans with ample room to settle the affair on the counter. Jara removed all doubt with a curling effort inside the far post four minutes from time. Moya rounded off this miserable night in the dying embers of the game to send the Americans home to nurse their disappointments and wonder how everything unraveled over the course of this painful trip.