Spain square off against Adu-less U.S.
When the USA take on Spain in their last match of Group D, they will more than likely do so without the attacking spark of joint-tournament topscorer and youngest player of the competition Freddy Adu. Picking up a second yellow card in as many matches in the win over Sierra Leone on Saturday means the fleet-footed goalscoring sensation is only one caution away from a one-match suspension.
Rather than risk losing the lightning-quick striker for the crucial quarter-final, American boss John Ellinger will probably force his wide-eyed starlet to watch the action from the sidelines against the surging Iberians.
“Of course I want to play (against Spain) – I always want to play,” said the 14-year-old Adu after scoring an 89th minute winner to steal a win from far-superior Sierra Leone. “But it’s the coach’s decision and I have to accept whatever he says.”
And although the U.S. have already qualified for the knockout round with six points from two matches, a loss to Spain would see them finish second, sparking a potential meeting with classy Brazil – probable winners from group C.
“I am almost positive that I will give Freddy a break for the game against Spain,” he added. “But that being said we are determined to win this group…it would be far better for us to come in first rather than second. We will play to win against Spain.”
Ellinger’s boys were undoubtedly fortunate to beat African newcomers Sierra Leone. Dominated for most of the match, it took an eleventh-hour strike well against the run of play to sink the talented Africans.
“We didn’t see a lot of the ball,” Ellinger admitted after the match. “It was not our intention to concede so much possession, but we have to be happy with the result against a team with such wonderful individual talent.”
And commenting on the second-half yellow card Adu received for what Uzbek match referee Ravshan Irmatov saw as simulation, the boss said “I really don’t think that Freddy took a dive when he received the yellow card…he moves with such pace that it doesn’t take much contact to send him flying.”
Coming off a decidedly sub-par performance against Sierra Leone, and with Spain flying high after hat-trick hero Silva smashed three past the Koreans to overturn a 0-2 deficit in the second half, the loss of magic man Adu could just make all the difference.
nd with or without Adu, Spain and coaches Gines Melendez and Juan Santisteban will not be making many changes to their game ahead of the match with the States.
“We have our own style of play,” he said. “We do not change for our opponents. We will play to win…Spain always plays to win.”
Silva, overshadowing his striker partner David, with a sudden burst of panache in his first minutes of the tournament will have surely earned himself a spot in the starting eleven.
“He made the game for us tonight,” exclaimed coach Melendez putting his arm around the shy, young striker. “He was outstanding from the first moment he stepped onto the pitch.”
Not letting the second-fastest hat-trick in FIFA U-17 World Championship history go to his head, his focus remains on the team.
“It is always nice to score goals,” he said. “but not just for me, the most important thing is to help the team win.”