Lackluster U.S. draws Japan, U-17 World Cup hopes in jeopardy

Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
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The United States’ U-17 World Cup hopes are in serious trouble of dying at the group stage.

Raphael Wicky’s Baby Yanks have just one point after two matches following a 0-0 draw with Japan in Cariacica, Brazil, with Leicester City goalkeeper Chituru Odunze saving the point with a magnificent late save.

The point keeps the U.S. above pointless Netherlands, who it faces Saturday in Goiânia. A win would be enough to send the U.S. through as a third-place into the knockout rounds, and a draw could be enough, too.

Senegal is now 2-0 after beating the Dutch, who also lost to Japan.

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Ex-Basel manager Wicky stunned many when he left Borussia Dortmund starlet Giovanni Reyna on the bench for the first hour.

Gianluca Busio (Sporting KC) showed first half flashes though perhaps tried to do too much to enliven a lackluster first half for both sides.

Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas) had the ball in the net when he was on the spot for a rebound, but his sheepish reaction beat the linesman’s flag to announcing his offside.

Pepi came off in the 55th minute for Giovanni Reyna, a surprise scratch from the Starting XI.

All of the action in the first hour belonged to the Baby Yanks, but Japan awoke and took hold of the match.

Jun Nishikawa just missed the bar with an inspired effort, then later turned and fired but missed the near post as Japan threatened to take all three points.

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Reyna tried his luck at catching the keeper off his line in the 72nd minute, but a long free kick effort sailed over the cross bar.

The U.S. then needed a bail out when Odunze made an incredible close range save in the 74th.

Joe Scally (NYCFC) had some good moments and redirected an 84th minute free kick away from danger.

Reyna nearly dribbled the entire left side of the Japan defense to score in the 85th, but saw his shot partially blocked.

Odunze made a fantastic save in stoppage time on Yamato Wakatsuki to preserve the point.