BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Despite a shaky effort, the United States U-17 national team defeated El Salvador 3-2 in extra time on Tuesday to qualify for the 2011 U-17 World Cup this summer in Mexico.
After winning their first two games against Cuba and Panama, the US advanced to the quarterfinals of the U-17 CONCACAF Championships which is also the World Cup qualifying tournament.
Under the format of the tournament, the quarterfinal games are single elimination games to determine World Cup qualification.
The US struck first when Alejandro Guido headed home a Joe Amon cross in the fourth minute.
In the ninth minute, El Salvador equalized when Jose Pena received a pass from Ivan Castro and fired home a low shot past US goalkeeper Fernando Pina.
For the rest of the first half and the second half, the US would continue to create most of the chances but poor finishing and decision-making in the final third nearly came back to haunt them as El Salvador had several close chances at goal as well.
In extra time the US would go ahead early when Mario Rodriguez fired home a Marc Pelosi pass from close range.
In the 112th mintue, Pelosi would give the US a two goal advantage when he received a low driving Guido cross and sent it into the near post.
One minute later, US defender Kellyn Acosta picked up his second yellow card and was sent off leaving the US with 10 men.
In the game's final minute, Pina was called for a penalty when he went for the ball but struck down El Salvador's Diego Galdamez with his leg. Pena retaliated and both Pina and Pena were sent off.
Gerardo Iraheta was able to convert the penalty past US backup keeper Kendall McIntosh to pull the Central Americans to one however a nine man US team was able hold off El Salvador for the final minute.
The US will face the winner of the Jamaica-Honduras quarterfinal on Friday in the semifinal of the CONCACAF U-17 Championships.