Uzbekistan saw off a stunned USA for a historic 2-1 victory in Torreon, securing their first-ever three points at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The Americans had impressed in their opener against the Czech Republic, while the Uzbeks suffered a heavy blow against New Zealand. It was a reverse of fate though on the day, as the debutants capitalised on a flat outing from the Americans.
The Uzbeks took advantage of an abject performance throughout the USA midfield and defense. Setting the tempo, and showing little resemblance to the nervy performance they put in against New Zealand, Uzbekistan took advantage of several USA mistakes within the first quarter-hour. After some unfortunate defending that saw Zachary Carroll slice his clearance straight into the air, the Uzbeks had a wonder-strike from their youngest player Bobir Davlatov to put them ahead. The 15-year-old received the ball at the top of the area from Timur Khakimov after the defensive mix-up, and with a one-time effort, hammered home into the top corner.
USA were given another warning just a minute later, as Uzbekistan were eyeing a second goal, only to be called for offside. The Americans were unable to muster any real threat on Ganisher Kholmurodov’s net and frustrations began to mount for the United States when Paul Arriola with a clear attempt on goal, headed his chance wide. Four minutes later the United States thought they had found an equaliser, but Mario Rodriguez's header across the line was discounted due to a foul in the area. Before the interval, Uzbekistan hoped to double their lead with a curling free-kick effort, but Kendall McIntosh did well to block the near-post threat.
After the restart, USA seemed to have reconciled their first-half misfortunes and came out firing for an equaliser. Super-sub Alfred Komora immediately proved his worth, netting his second goal in as many matches, in the 47th minute. He found himself through on goal, proving too strong for his marker, and hit his shot into the bottom-left corner. The Uzbek boys retaliated with a flurry of chances of their own, but the US defence did much better to block their attempts.
However, the day went from bad to worse for USA defender Carroll when the No2 conceded a foul in the area that would result in a penalty for Uzbekistan. Captain Abbosbek Makhstaliev stepped up to take the spot-kick, and despite McIntosh’s dive in the right direction, evaded the goalkeeper to give the confident tournament debutants the lead once again. Unwilling to miss their chance at a first-ever victory at the finals, Uzbekistan assumed control, protecting their lead against a shocked USA.
The Americans will now have their work cut-out for them when they face New Zealand on 25 June in Pachuca, while Uzbekistan will meet Czech Republic in Torreon with plenty to be proud of.