The US U-17s used a dominant first 45 minutes to cruise to a 3-1 win over Brazil, and with it took the 2011 Nike International Friendlies tournament title on Sunday afternoon in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
The Yanks got things started early when Rubio Rubin cleverly finished off a Junior Flores set piece inside two minutes. Flores would prove to be a thorn in Brazil's side all match, playing an integral role in all three goals and constantly finding room to push into the attack both with and without the ball.
While the US started brighter with their 1-0 lead, the Brazilians hung around and eventually evened things up on the quarter hour when Matheus Queiroz finished off a quick build-up. The midfielder fired a 22-yard rocket that left Paul Christensen with no chance after some nice work down the left side by playmaker Gabriel.
From there, however, the first half was all US. Flores, along with the forward pairing of Wesley Wade and Corey Baird as well as some timely overlaps from left back John Requejo, Jr., put the Brazilian defense on the back foot almost at will. The Samba Boys were reduced to simply clearing the ball in order to withstand the pressure from the Red, White and Blue.
That pressure paid off in the 31st minute, again on a set piece. Brazil failed to clear a corner, and US central defender Tyler Turner was able to get on the ball and find room in the box. He side-stepped a challenge, then fired into the upper 90 from 10 yards for the 2-1 lead.
The pièce de résistance, though, came in the 43rd minute.
The US strung together 11 consecutive passes, forcing Brazil to chase all over the pitch until enough space opened up for Requejo to put Flores through down the left side. The diminutive playmaker skipped around a Brazilian defender, then sent a low cross to the near post. Wade, in classic center-forward fashion, beat his man to the spot and one-timed his flick neatly past the rooted Brazilian 'keeper for what would prove to be an insurmountable lead.
The second half was a more even affair, as both teams were able to generate looks in between bouts of chippiness. The finishing on both sides, however, was wanting after the break.
Both Wade and substitute DeAndre Robinson headed over, while Flores pushed a 16-yard shot wide after some clever work to get open. Brazil, meanwhile, were often dangerous through Gabriel and Ze Agosto, but weren't able to force Christensen into any highlight-reel saves.
In the end, the US were able to make their first-half lead stand, and took the title on their home turf. The Yanks finished the tournament with two wins and a draw for 7 points. Brazil finished second on 4 points, while France were third with 3 points from three draws. Turkey brought up the rear with 1 point from their three games.
USA – Rubio Rubin (Shaquell Moore) 2
BRA – Matheus 16
USA – Tyler Turner 31
USA - Wesley Wade (Junior Flores) 43
BRA – Abner (caution) 24
BRA – Kaue (caution) 33
USA – DeAndre Robinson (caution) 84
BRA – Ze Augusto (caution) 90
BRA – Zerlan (caution) 90
USA: 1-Paul Christensen; 4-Shaquell Moore, 2-Conor Donovan, 6-Tyler Turner, 3- John Requejo Jr.; 7-Rubio Rubin, 5-Guy Kabala (14-Steven Echevarria, 65), 20-Christopher Lema , 10-Junior Flores (19-Danya Kafai, 78); 13-Corey Baird (16-Kevin Polit 90+1), 9-Wesley Wade (11-DeAndre Robinson, 65)
Substitutions Not Used: 8-Angel Heredia, 12- Adonis Amaya, 15-Jorge Calix, 17-Dembakwi Yomba, 18-Evan Louro
Head coach: Wilmer Cabrera
BRA: 1-Guilherme; 2- Kaue (13-Derlan, 83), 3-Marcel, 4-Eriks (capt.), 6-Abner; 7-Walney (16-Linik, 46), 8-Ze Augusto, 5-Matheus Queiroz; 10-Gabriel (15-Gabriel Barbosa, 87), 11-Joanderson (14-Ian, 65), 9-Bruno (18-Renan Gorne, 83)
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Fellipe, 14-Ian, 17-Kaique
Head coach: Emerson Rodriguez de Avila
Referee: Matthew Forrester (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Mark Cahen (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Sims Meredith (USA)
Fourth Official: Terry Vaughn (USA)
Venue: Premier Sports Campus; Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
Weather: 73 degrees, clear