Mens Youth Olympic Team Takes Fourth Place in Qualifier

Feb. 08, 2014, 11:20 p.m. (ET)

The United States Under-18 Men’s Squad competed in Puerto Rico during the last few days in an attempt to claim a spot at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. After tough pool play, the team presented relentless competition against Mexico in the bronze medal match but fell 4-2.

"Although the end result is not what we were hoping for, we made great steps forward," said Head Coach Rutger Wiese. "For the development of our players it is important to play international matches under pressure, and that is exactly what we faced here."

Team USA earned the third place spot in regular pool play. The U.S. took on Guatemala in the first round of crossovers Friday morning in the quarterfinal match. Team USA outscored Guatemala 10-2, setting itself up to play in a semi-final game against Canada.

In prior pool play, the U.S. fell 6-5 to Canada. The two teams were tied after two periods of play in the semi-final game. The third quarter turned in a physical battle with several cards for both sides. Against Team USA’s best efforts, Canada prevailed 8-5.

“We lost the semi-final to a smarter Canada,” said Wiese. “Before the match, we knew that the team with the best organized defense would win. We lost our composure during the chaotic final period of the game and Canada took immediate advantage of that.”

Team USA took the pitch against Mexico for the second time in the tournament to battle for bronze. The first match again Mexico resulted in a tie at five goals a-piece. In the bronze medal match, Mexico triumphed by capitalizing on key moments. 

"Now it is important that we take advantage of the lessons we've learned here as we move forward," said Wiese. "As a team as well as individual players we grew tremendously this week."