Junior USMNT Squads Show Massive Strides in First Two Test Games Against Chile

Images Taken by Esteban Araya

March 13, 2018, 9:20 a.m. (ET)

SANTIAGO, Chile - March 13, 2018 - Following extensive travel to the playing site, both the U.S. U-16 and U-19 Men's National Teams hit the pitch with intensity in Santiago, Chile against the country's junior squads. Beginning on Sunday, March 11 with a rigorous training session, the teams impressed Junior U.S. Men's National Teams Head Coach Rutger Wiese and his staff, demonstrating passion and versatility in their first and second matches of the five-game test-series.

Monday, March 11, 2018
U-16 USMNT 0 - 9 Chile
The young U-16 USMNT team took to the field in good spirits and were up for the challenge from their Chilean counterparts. Nerves were present in the squad's first international matchup from the get-go among the red, white and blue players while Chile took advantage early on in the opening frame with a penalty corner in the 4th minute. USA goalkeeper Russell Smith (Camarillo, Calif.) successfully deflected another penalty corner attempt moments later, but another surge by the Chile offense yielded a field goal to make it 2-0 in the 8th minute. USA continued to be pressed defensively as Chile's offense converted another field goal to round out the first quarter.

A more organized USA team took to the field to begin the second quarter, resulting in far greater possession and creating more scoring chances than the previous 15 minutes of play. USA stopped two more penalty corner chances by Chile before the halftime break. The 21st minute then saw a shot by Gerald Cutone (Reading, Mass.), with a follow up attempt by Namit Mangat (Glendale, Ariz.), which were both denied by Chile's goalkeeper. Another field goal by the host nation ended the half with the score 4-0.

Rafael Martell (Miami, Fla.) stepped in to see action in net for USA in the second half. The rest of U-16 USMNT continuously rotated positions as the coaching staff evaluated performances in different spots throughout the remainder of the match. It also provided critical information on positioning and strategy as USA maintained composure allowing a lone score in the third quarter during the shuffling process. A hard shot and score by Chile in the 46th minute shook loose momentum gathered by USA from a successful quarter. Moments later, USA denied a penalty corner attempt, but Chile was swift to knock in the rebound to make the score 6-0. Chile then netted three additional field goals before the final horn sounded, signaling the 9-0 defeat.


U-19 USMNT 0 - 4 Chile
Like their younger counterparts, Chile was a fast-attacking squad from the opening whistle, not giving the U-19 USMNT time to settle in at all while scoring the opening goal in the 2nd minute. USA settled down defensively the following few minutes and began moving the ball quicker around the backend, which kept Chile at bay. Building through the back also allowed USA to stage a few attacks and enter the Chile circle a handful of times in the first quarter. While none of those chances resulted in goals, USA was equally as effective defensively the remainder of the quarter denying Chile on a pair of penalty corner chances.
Goals by Chile in the second frame were the result of breakdowns near midfield by USA. After a field goal by Chile in the 18th minute, Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.) chased a ball down the line and connected with Vincent Heller (Stuttgart, Germany) at the top of the circle. Heller then made a turn on the ball to get off a reverse shot only to see itbounce off the cross bar. Chile then responded on the other end with two penalty corner chances, converting on the second one, to make the score 3-0 at halftime.

Another scoring opportunity for USA came later in the second half when Garry Singh (Corona, Calif.) made a great run from just inside the Chilean half, taking on defenders and getting into the circle where he came up short of finishing the play to score for USA.
"This is exactly what any good program needs," said Wiese. "It needs a solid junior program where our boys start to gain experience, start to learn about high performance hockey and all the ups and down that are associated with it. The boys need to learn about travel, fatigue, diets, pre-tour training, fitness and more fitness. All these key pieces when sorted out will lead to the ultimate goal of producing results."


Tuesday, March 12, 2018

U-16 USMNT 0 - 3 Chile

With a chip on their shoulder having competed in their first international match, the U-16 USMNT appeared full of energy and refreshed with a game plan revisited as they hit the pitch in the second game in as many days. After a quick turnover by Chile, USA breached the Chile 25 yard line and attacked the circle. Catching Chile off guard, the play set the tone for the game that USA was there to play. The host nation responded to this initial spark of energy by applying pressure on USA's defense as quick as their offensive press. It was clear the nerves were not nearly as evident as USA stuck to their assignments and began clearing and finding outlets. Despite this, Chile was not without their own scoring chances in the first quarter with three penalty corner opportunities, which were all denied by USA, leaving the score deadlocked 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter again saw the USA squad getting up field more than the day before and showing positive signs. Unfortunately the half ended with a controversial Chile goal that hit the far post after being shot from the left side of the circle and bounced toward the sideline. Ultimately, the play was signaled as a goal from the umpire, giving Chile the 1-0 lead at the break. 

USA came into the second half on the defensive end as Chile was able to penetrate the circle multiple times. Smith stood tall in net for USA, fighting off multiple shots on goal and additional circle penetrations. Although Smith's efforts fueled USA's momentum, Chile was able to pocket a field goal in the 36th minute to make it 2-0.

Smith continued to impress in the final quarter, starting with a sprawling stick save in front of the net in the first minute. Chile managed to score another field goal in the final minutes to make it 3-0 as USA's intensity took a major step from game one.

U-19 USMNT 0 - 4 Chile
A determined U-19 USMNT stepped on the field set on improving and it showed right away. USA matched Chile move for move in the opening quarter as both teams went back and forth demonstrating striking speed and intensity on the ball. After a scoreless 15 minutes, Chile began applying more pressure in the second frame as holes in USA's defense began to show. In the 23rd minute Chile capitalized on a penalty corner opportunity, scoring on a drag flick for the opening score. The opposition followed up the goal moments later with a field goal to put USA at a 2-0 disadvantage. With time running out in the half, Amrinderpal Singh (Corona, Calif.) took the shot from a USA penalty corner chance, which was blocked by Chile's goalkeeper.
The third quarter saw an offense that was once again relentless and put pressure on Chile's circle by entering over a dozen times with nearly as many shots on goal. During this series of risky counter attacks, USA earned another penalty corner but did not result in a score. Chile then responded with a field goal just over a minute later to make it 3-0, putting USA back on their heels the remainder of the quarter. That continued through the first part of the final quarter with Chile adding to the scoreboard off another field goal. In the final minutes USA applied pressure once again, earning multiple penalty corner chances, but could not get the ball across the goal line. As the final horn sounded, Wiese debriefed a much different and intense team from the night prior.
Both teams will practice Tuesday, March 13 before returning to the pitch for the third game of the test series on Wednesday. Stay tuned and check back at usafieldhockey.com for updates and game recaps all throughout the series.