-Ben McCormick

Last night, the US U-17 national team did what they had failed to accomplish at the last two World Cups--win their opening match. Behind a 5th minute wonder-strike from Alejandro Guido, the U-17s cruised to a convincing 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic.

From the first kick, the US did a good job of making the Czech defense uncomfortable, and that pressure paid off early. In the 5th minute, Guido pounced on a heavy touch from a Czech defender to power home a 30 yard strike with his left foot from inside the right edge of the 18 yard box.

Guido's goal sent the Czechs into a panic, and despite some quality play during the remainder of the first half, they failed to test surprise American netminder Kendall McIntosh. The only time McIntosh was forced into action was for a dangerous ball bouncing across the goal line that McIntosh expertly pushed away after making a second effort, having already dove for the initial shot on goal. At halftime, the sides seemed pretty evenly matched, with the edge going to the Czechs in the last few minutes.

The Americans came out of halftime with renewed energy, and early on rumored Roma target Marc Pelosi saw a deep strike clang off the crossbar.

The entire match winger Paul Arriola ran up and down the pitch, worrying the Czech defense with his tireless energy and fearlessness. His work paid off in the 51st minute when he took a touch to get around a Czech defender on the right side of the 18 yard box, before dribbling along the endline and passing the ball to a charging Esteban Rodriguez who put away the easy finish.

Only a minute after being brought on, substitute forward Alfred Koroma, with his first touches of the match, corralled the ball just beyond the 18 yard box before firing a low shot across the goal to the goalkeeper's left into the bottom corner of the net to complete the 3-0 rout.

For much of the game, Guido stood out as a class above the rest. His vision, touch and skill were on display throughout the match, showing why he deserves the #10 shirt. Another couple performances like the one against the Czechs and some professional squads might be beating down his door.

Although rarely called upon for a real save, McIntosh was steady as a rock throughout the match.  In the last few minutes, he caught a low shot to his right and controlled a piledriver straight at him like a seasoned veteran. Many expected Fernando Pina to get the start, but with performances like these, it's hard to envision anyone but McIntosh in the net.

Marc Pelosi improved as the match progressed, but I look forward to seeing more from him Wednesday against Uzbekistan.

The next match for the US is Wednesday against Uzbekistan, who was beaten 4-1 at the hands of New Zealand yesterday afternoon. The match can be seen live at 4PM EST on ESPN3 or on delay on ESPNU.
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