Improvements Made Against Chile in Junior USMNT’s First International Contest of 2019

Images Taken by Katherine Hennessy

March 11, 2019, 10:30 a.m. (ET)

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SANTIAGO, Chile - March 11, 2019 - After arriving in Santiago, Chile on Saturday, the U.S. U-16 and U-20 Men's National Teams hit the pitch yesterday for their first of four test games against Chile's junior squads at the Club Manquehue. The U-16 side played first, and despite leading at the half, the final frame saw Chile put in two additional goals for the 3-1 win. The U-20 team was also leading at the half but a succession of six penalty corners and one conversion by the host nation finished the match in a 1-1 draw.

A lot of progress has been made for both squads as just a year ago USA conceded 13 goals in the opening match.

"We started the day with a full practice and fitness testing followed by games for both teams in the evening," said Rutger Wiese, Junior USMNT Head Coach. "The teams played really hard [yesterday] with some great offensive structure. [Monday] we’re back on the practice field and we’re looking forward to more progress."

U-16 USMNT 1 - 3 Chile

The first quarter saw both USA and Chile apply solid pressure, share possession and looking to create offensive opportunities. USA goalkeeper Rafael Martell (Miami, Fla.) came up big and defended three rapid consecutive shots on goal while USA logged multiple attempts. Without any conversions by either team, the first quarter ended 0-0.

On a fast break half way through the second quarter, USA’s Colin Kirkpatrick (Annville, Pa.) dribbled the ball up the left side, punched through Chile’s defense and released a rocket to the far post to give USA a 1-0 lead.
Chile’s equalizer came in the third quarter following a great save by USA goalkeeper Russell Smith (Camarillo, Calif.), the rebound was quickly picked up and Chile found the net on the second shot. USA successfully denied three subsequent penalty corners to hold the host nation to 1-1 at the end of the third frame.
In the final period, play in the middle began to break down for USA allowing Chile to pull ahead with two additional goals. USA attempted to rally but in the end conceded the match to Chile 3-1.

U-20 USMNT 1 - 1 Chile

USA opened the game by taking the lead with an early breakaway by Alberto Montilla (Allen, Texas) who bested Chile’s goalkeeper in an open 1v1 at the 2-minute mark. USA controlled possession for the majority of the first half while Chile looked to settle into their game. Both teams started to connect well as the next few minutes saw multiple circle penetrations. In the 25th minute, USA earned a penalty corner but the shot went wide as the halftime concluded with the score 1-0 in favor of USA.

The start of the second half saw USA’s defense tested by a high press from Chile. The host nation earned six penalty corners but were only able to convert on one due to a solid defensive performance by USA goalkeeper Amar Singh (Santa Clara, Calif.). Toward the end of the third quarter, USA reorganized and earned two penalty corners of their own but was unable to convert on either ending the quarter at 1-1.

USA regained momentum in the fourth frame and continued to look for openings in Chile’s tight lines. A few good combinations led to circle penetrations but were ultimately not enough to take the lead. As time wound down, USA’s collective efforts kept it to a 1-1 draw.

Both teams will practice today before their second test games tomorrow, Tuesday, March 12 at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. ET. For more information regarding the Junior USMNT vs. Chile series including the schedule, results, rosters and more, check out the official event page by clicking here.