The United States U17 team defeated Burkina Faso two to one in the second game of their group stage at the U17 World Cup off of goals by Keyrol Figueroa and Nimfasha Berchimas. With the win, The United States secured their spot in the round of 16 and either a first or second place finish in the group. The United States beat a strong Burkina Faso team that performed very well in the AFCON qualifiers, losing that tournament in penalties against a high powered Senegal team. The United States are off to a much stronger start than many projected, including myself, and now find themselves in an exciting matchup against world power, France, for first place in Group E.
Adam Beaudry elevating to punch the ball out of the box
The boys put themselves in a lot of unnecessary, chaotic situations and for the most part I thought they recovered and rotated well to put out fires.
When they were not turning the ball over, there were some nice sequences to progress the ball into the final third where they were able to put pressure on Burkina Faso’s backline.
Similar to the first game against South Korea, the United States were very efficient with the chances that they created.
The big area of concern and the big focal point for improvement in the next game is to clean up the unnecessary turnovers — primarily passing decisions and accuracy in their own half.
I understand that Segares wanted to get some of his key guys rest going into the final match, but this was a must-win game and I thought some of his substitutions were questionable. He was protecting a two to zero lead and finished the game with Santi Morales, Paulo Rudisill and Taha Habroune in midfield. All three are attacking minded mids and none of them are known for their defensive prowess. He also subbed out starting left-back Tahir Reid-Brown early in the second half and moved a more offensive player, Peyton Miller, from left-wing to left-back. In the end, it worked out because many key players got some rest, but it was a very risky sequence of decisions.
Adam Beaudry (Man of the Match)
Goalkeeper was a position of concern coming into the tournament but Beaudry has been excellent through two games and he put in a MOTM shift against Burkina Faso. He was strong and commanding in the box and he made some big reaction saves to protect the win.
He wasn’t as influential as the first game, but he took his chance and had a pre-assist in the first goal.
Hawkins didn’t have an eye-popping performance, but he was steady, positionally sound and responsible on the ball in a game where very few players were responsible on the ball.
Soma played as more of an eight in this game and he was fantastic in the first half at finding pockets of space and progressing the ball. He was also one of the more secure players on the ball throughout the match.
He was more involved in the build up and had two excellently timed and placed runs on the two goals. The first was a perfectly timed back post run and clean finish. The second run was between the CBs, creating the chaos in the box that allowed Berchimas to pounce and finish on the back post.
The second youngest player on the team went 90 and played left-wing and left-back. He assisted the second goal on a decent early cross that squeaked through the defense to find Nimfasha Berchimas and he played pretty good defense under a lot of pressure when he moved back to left-back early in the second half.
Rudisill had some careless turnovers, but his assist on the first goal was an absolute peach and good enough to get him on the list.
The United States will face one of the giants of global football in France on Saturday at 7AM ET. It's the perfect time for the United States to test themselves against a team as talented as France. Both teams have already advanced through the group, and both teams will be facing a difficult round of 16 opponent, no matter the result. The United States should go into this game playing free, confident and ready to find out how good they really are.
Coach Gonzalo Segares rotated five of the starting eleven against Burkina Faso and it will be interesting to see what change he makes against France. If it were my decision, I’d bring Noahkai Banks back into the eleven for Tyler Hall. I’d bring Cruz Medina back in for Paulo Rudisill and I’d be open to either Peyton Miller or David Vazquez at left-wing. France will be as physical as Burkina Faso and as skilled as South Korea — it will be a great challenge.
Looking two steps ahead to the knockout round, the United States will likely play Germany if they lose or tie to France. If they beat France, they will play one of Senegal, Argentina or Japan, all of which would be strong opponents.