Once again, the second round proved to an obstacle the U.S. could not clear at the Under-17 World Cup. The Americans fell to Italy 2-1 on Wednesday in Kaduna, Nigeria.
For the first time, the U.S. was outplayed by its opponent for much of the game, but it had its chances. Jack McInerney missed an early penalty kick, and late in the game, the Americans had several good chances to equalize.
Italy went ahead in the 29th minute on a goal by Giacomo Beretta. Nick Palodichuck equalized for the U.S. six minutes into the second half, but five minutes later, Pietro Iemmello hit a long-range effort to give the Italians the lead again.
The loss marked the third straight tournament in which the U.S. advanced to the knockout stages only to be eliminated by a traditional European power.
Despite its record of having participated in every Under-17 World Cup, dating back to the first tournament in China in 1985, the U.S. has won only game in the knockout phase: the 1999 win over Mexico by the team that featured Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu, among others.