Chituru Odunze

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U.S. U-17 keeper Odunze learning from Schmeichel at Leicester City

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Leicester City’s huge secret was told to the world at the U-17 World Cup in Brazil, where imposing goalkeeper Chituru Odunze made several big saves in the United States’ quick exit from the group stage.

Odunze, who turned 17 last month, joined the Premier League outfit from the Vancouver Whitecaps last season, and is already getting some first team training time.

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This is all good news for a USMNT program which has a long history of goalkeepers shining at the top levels in Europe, including Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Tim Howard, and now Zach Steffen.

Odunze admits to being pleased at the tests provided by Jamie Vardy and the Leicester attackers, but says he’s learning more from the expertise on show from a trio of wise first team goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Ward, and Eldin Jakupovic.

Schmeichel is a Premier League winner, Jakupovic a former regular PL starter with Hull City, and Ward helped Huddersfield Town to promotion during a loan from Liverpool. From Oddschecker’s Kristan Heneage:

“They’re all really good role models at the club, and they sort of take you under their wing. They’ve taught me to calm down and be confident in my abilities,” Odunze said. “Of course, there are little pieces of technical information they give me while we’re training, but a lot of the lasting information I get from them is mental.”

The 17-year-old has a monstrous frame, so learning from Schmeichel and company at such a young age while getting tested by the Foxes’ electric attackers is a great combination. He is 2W-2L at the U18 Premier League level.

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

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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.