The United States are set to enter their group stage finale in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. Now the Yanks are faced with a must win match on Friday against the host nation at the Estadio Sausalito.
The U.S. Under-17 squad is currently in third place of Group A with one point from two games played. The Yanks are just one point behind second place Croatia. The top two positions in each group automatically qualify for the Round of 16.
However, if the United States finishes the group stage in third place they still have a chance of making it to the next round. All the Yanks have to do is finish the top four of the possible six third place nations. Currently the U.S. holds the final spot to qualify to the knockout stages. However, from second place to sixth each country is tied with one point, so essentially there is no room for error for the Yanks.
The United States offense will need to repeat their first half offensive effort from the match against Croatia on Tuesday. Creative midfielder Christian Pulisic led the Yanks to a 2-0 lead in the first half. He scored the first goal and assisted on the second, as the United States seemed to be on the road of getting a crucial victory.
However, in the second half the defense fell asleep and allow the Europeans to tie the game 2-2. Since the United States failed to hang on to the three points, they must get a victory against Chile. The tricky part is that the host nation is also desperate for the three points.
La Roja is in fourth place with one point. The only difference between the two countries is that the Americans have a -2 goal differential and the South Americans have a differential of -4. The home fans will be out in numbers and ready to give their boys all the support they need to get the three points and qualify for the Round of 16.
The Yanks will have to find a way to zone out the potential 22,360 Chileans in the stands on Friday. The best way for the Americans to do that is score an early goal and silence the crowd.
However, the United States in this game will be on the counter for almost the entire match. There is no mistaking that La Roja will be on the offensive so the U.S. will have to take advantage of every chance they can create.
American midfielders Luca De La Torre, Joshua Perez, Pulisic and forwards Haji Wright and Brandon Vazquez will need to step up for the Yanks. However, U.S. goalkeeper William Pulisic and the defense will hold the key for the United States to book their ticket into the next round. They will need to be on their toes and be ready for the barrage that La Roja will bring.
Prediction: Chile 3-1 USA
Since both countries need the three points, a draw will not really be helpful for either side. That being said, La Roja will be relentless on the attack and the American backline will crumble again as they did against Croatia on Tuesday.