US U-17s Send Twelve Foot Walls Of Water & Wash Out Brazil 3-1

The U-17ers moved as one on Sunday...

A surfing nod in that title.

As you become older, wiser and more experienced in surfing, you learn that Mother Ocean always wins. So when sets of 12-foot waves are hurdling towards you, you wait until the set of waves subsides and make your play or you sort-of stick-and-move your way out to the line-up, prodding for the little channel that hopefully exists.

When you’re young, you paddle out in the middle of that barreling set. You rely on your strength to get you out there–and most of the time you make it–and you’re only not exhausted by the time you reach the line-up because you’re, well, young.

The US U-17s sent waves upon waves of big surf at their Brazilian counterparts on Sunday and Brazil’s U-17 squad made like the youngsters they are attempting to take on what probably was–for them–a surprising onslaught, head-on.

One problem. Both sides of the ball were young and Brazil’s attempts to play their usually dominating game against the United States left them on the short side of the scoreline, 3-1.

TSG often tries to temper enthusiasm around a single game. We call it a single observation and–broken record time–you need multiple observations to really start drawing a conclusion–the, yes, whole body of work.

Therefore, with that annotation in hand, we’ll still calmly call Sunday’s display by the Yankee Mini-Me’s, impressive.

Impressive across the ball.

First, impressive from a skill-on-skill perspective. US attackers Junior Flores–the Pretty Boy with a well-earned Man of the Match nod–and Wesley Wade continually busted up the Brazilian right flank with either staccato passing attacks or swashbuckling attacking runs. Most impressive was Flores continually navigating is way in, around or through yellow jersey duress. Flores–in what is becoming a hallmark of US Soccer focus across the board here in late 2011–was not content to go negative or neutral with the ball–always looking to keeping attacking even when boxed in.

Second, impressive from a player game awareness perspective. Brazil–and sometimes Spain–youth usually can sleepwalk their way through opponents on the strength of their individual on-ball prowess. This is nothing new and we mentioned during the game that the Canarylanders looked more like a group of Kobe Bryants–only dishing the ball when they ran out of options. Inverse for the States, who looked to take space when the smallest was forwarded, but looked to continually get the ball up the field to dangerous positions as quickly as possible.

Which brings up to, number three.

Cabrera juggles youth even better than the marble....

Impressive from a coaching standpoint. US coach Wilmer Cabrera can flat-out coach. Period. It’s often difficult to balance bouts of inconsistency, the sometimes silly, folly-filled play of young players with key coaching objectives. Cabrera paints in masterstrokes.

Sunday his squad continually took advantage of their opponents weaknesses. They were prepared in the second half for a post-halftime onslaught with Cabrera making a subtle change in tactics to take his centermidfielders’ feet slightly off the gas and look to drop back for their fullbacks who would have slightly more time on the ball to make a more educated decision on whether to boot it away or attempt to work it up the field. In short, they were prepared and executed.

It’s a single game–though the Nike International Friendlies Championship title went to the States on the day–but it was an impressive performance against the youth of a member of international soccer’s sacred and elevated inner circle.

23 responses to this post.

  1. […] The US U-17 team defeated Brazil 3–1 on Sunday to claim the Nike International Friendlies Championship. The first US goal, coming in the second minute from Rubio Rubin, is sweet. And that Junior Flores kid, wow. More on the win from Soccer America and The Shin Guardian. […]


  2. Posted by Wixson7 on 2011/12/05 at 8:20 AM


    I’m ready for the “Flores to save US Soccer” threads to emerge. In all seriousness, he has some major skill and it will be interesting how it plays out.


    • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/12/05 at 9:20 AM

      He’s also eligible for El Salvador, and trained with their full team briefly in DC during the Gold Cup, so let the “Cap Flores IMMEDIATELY!” threads begin, as well. 😛


    • Posted by Kevin O' on 2011/12/05 at 9:58 AM

      I agree with the skill-on-skill sentiment Matthew. (I always love your surfing references as well even though I’d be shark bait out there!) Across the field for the US, the awareness and instincts were amazing to me at such a young age. That means the coach let them play, but everyone knew their exact role and there was team cohesion and fluidity. And was it me, or did Cabrera get them to really employ that elusive “style” in game three that Klinsi has been seeking? In fact, they became more consistent from a style perspective over the course of three games while managing to clean up the silly lapses of concentration.

      I realize everyone wants to temper emotions here, (especially Jimmy Conrad it seemed), but I can’t help but be optimistic regarding the tournament. Flores juked frogs, turks and samba boys with equal aplomb. I won’t dare call him our saviour, but as a future National Team senior side prospect, he really does look like the real deal to me. (Let’s just not give him a Sierra Mist commercial with Pele please!) And the rest of the team seems to have some possible diamonds in the rough. It was nice to see creative instinctual goals going in the back of the net, and simple spacing closed down in the back. Bravo Coach Cabrera and U-17’s!


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/12/05 at 5:30 PM

        Thanks for the kind words Kevin. I think the key thing was the US focus for about 70 minutes and adherence to the game plan. You don’t see that type of focus in youngsters. You just don’t. They were up for the game and their “games” rose to the occasion.


  3. Just updating this (although I did post it on my twitter feed)

    Rubio Rubin (scorer of the first goal) was awarded a scholarship via the 107ist/Timbers Army to help with the costs of training at the IMG academy.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/12/05 at 9:46 AM


      Interesting to see the MLS connections…or not of the squad. Wesley Wade is a New York Red Bulls product, so good job there NYRB.

      It’s the missed connections that are kind of frustrating. Hard to fault Portland for not having Rubin, of course. But it’s Flores who kind of frustrates me. I heard Garber say in broadcast that he wants Flores in MLS, right? That should be easier than it is: Flores is from North Virginia, which should make him a natural candidate to be in DC United’s academy under the tutelage of ex-Ajaxer Sonny Silooy. Unfortunately it’s a long commute from NoVa to DC, and that’s where MLS is going to get creative: maybe by doing residential options, or having satellite academy teams. But as shifting demography makes suburbs and exurbs browner, MLS teams are clearly going to have to figure out ways to access that talent.


      • Haven’t confirmed this, but potentially Rubin will be considered “homegrown” for the Timbers when he goes pro.

        He recently won the Timbers/OYSA ODP Boy’s Player of the Year at the Timbers 2011 Club awards Banquet.


      • Posted by EFG on 2011/12/05 at 10:08 AM

        The commute from Northern Virginia into DC really depends on how far in the ‘burbs you are. Andy Najar was, I believe (and I could be wrong on the specifics), sort of put up in an apartment in Alexandria with his family by DC United so it isn’t without precedent.


      • Posted by dude on 2011/12/05 at 10:51 AM

        Flores with DC? Way to wake me up, that would be incredible.


  4. Posted by Kevin O' on 2011/12/05 at 10:08 AM

    I’ll bet Ben Olsen has room in his car.


  5. Posted by scweeb on 2011/12/05 at 11:50 AM

    Quick question in the Japan WQ what was are average age of player? cause if i remember right that was the year LD and those guys made there first showing in WQ and they were really young if i remember right.


    • 28.2

      You have to remember that we had Agoos, Regis, Joe Max Moore, Meola, and others bringing the age up.


      • Actually there were only 2 players under the age of 24 on that squad. Donovan and Beasley.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/12/05 at 1:22 PM

        I took a look at this back when the Gold Cup roster was released last summer, but the demographics of the U.S. team are very interesting. Basically:

        a) average age has been decreasing
        b) average number of years spent in college has been decreasing
        c) IIRC caps have been increasing


        • Posted by scweeb on 2011/12/05 at 3:40 PM

          Hmm i thought there was a younger presence in that squad. Cause i was thinking boby was in that group as well.


          • If you are talking about Convey, then he didn’t make the 2002 squad, he made the 2006 squad.


          • Posted by dth on 2011/12/05 at 8:31 PM

            There certainly was, but on the other hand there were ancients like Jeff Agoos (34, 127 caps); Cobi Jones (31, 157 caps); etc. The increased depth and quality of the USMNT means we’ll never see their ilk again: there will be more options to rotate (hell, even Donovan got benched a bit in the Gold Cup), and there will be players so good that club/country issues will sideline players at times.


          • Posted by Martin on 2011/12/06 at 4:12 PM

            As John pointed out the average age was 28.2

            The younger guys were Donovan and DMB 20, Dolo 23, JOB 24 and Mathis, Pablo and Josh Wolff were 25.

            Agoos was 34 Earnie, Meola and David Regis were 33.


  6. Posted by dmn on 2011/12/05 at 7:58 PM

    matthewsf. Love the homage to surfing!!! I’m very stoked for U-17’s performance last week. As you know, huge 12-foot surf comes in all shapes, sizes, levels of intensity, duration, and power. So my question is: If U-17 pummeled Brasil like huge surf, then what surf spot would be analogous to the way U-17 played?

    Okay, right off the bat we can rule out all world class surf breaks. No Waimea, Pipe, Mavericks, Chopes, Bells, J-Bay, etc. Team USA isn’t in the elite, yet.

    I’m thinking of a surf break something along the lines of a regional classic, pehaps? A spot where, given the right swell angle, tides, and weather conditions will be an absolute beast of a wave. Guillotine barrels, racing down-the-line walls, square corners, and do-or-die boost sections ala Dane Reynolds.

    Realistically, the Brasillians checked the surf conditions and probably saw what appeared to be a flat, mushy, shouldering wave without much of a go. So, the Brasililians grab their shortest groveller board hoping to punt the living daylights outta U-17. Assessing surf from shore can be deceiving. Once Brasil paddled into the line up did they realize their surf check false. The mushy surf was indeed racing over a curvature in the reef and mutated into a thick, unpredictable barrelling wedge. At times, the wave would back off and not allow a ride. At other times, the wave absolutely wedged and sucked Brasil over the falls. Totally frustrated, Brasil was undergunned given the absolute wave quality of the day.

    For me, I’m thinking of an out-of-the way location I call “The Slab.” Fickle, needs the right sort of weather conditions to make a go of it. But when it’s on, it’s ON! Here’s to Team USA’s move up to a world class surf break, fer sure dude.


  7. Posted by david on 2011/12/06 at 12:53 AM

    Anyone else not able to watch the highlights due to the video being “private”?


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