Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Mario Rodriguez leads U.S. into World Cup
By Scott French
North Hollywood's Mario Rodriguez came off the bench to score the go-ahead goal in overtime, and the U.S. qualified for its 14th successive FIFA U-17 World Cup with a wild 3-2 victory over El Salvador in CONCACAF's quarterfinals.
There were two goals and three red cards in the final eight minutes of overtime in Montego Bay, Jamaica, but the Americans held on to advance to Thursday's semifinal against the winner of Tuesday's Jamaica-Honduras game.
Rodriguez (Poly HS in Sun Valley) scored five minutes into the extra period to provide a 2-1 advantage, and Mark Pelosi tallied in the 112th to make it 3-1. The Americans lost defender Kellyn Acosta to a second yellow card a minute later, and goalkeeper Fernando Piņa and El Salvador's Jose Peņa were ejected after a final-minute collision in the box, leading to Gerardo Iraheta's penalty kick.
Palmdale's Esteban Rodriguez (Bell Gardens HS) played the full 120 in midfield for the U.S., but Galaxy forward Jack McBean (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) did not feature.
Panama also clinched a berth in the June 18-July 10 World Cup in Mexico, beating Costa Rica, 1-0, to advance to a CONCACAF semifinal against Canada or Trinidad and Tobago. Mexico, as World Cup host, is not taking part in the CONCACAF championship.