Three Atlanta United Academy prospects got off to a winning start in the FIFA U-17 World Cup Friday, with Andrew Carleton scoring on his debut in a 3-0 win for the U.S. over India.
As often is the case in the opening match against the host nation, it was a tight opening stretch with both sides trying to avoid any costly mistakes. But Atlanta's Chris Goslin outshone the rest in the center of midfield, with his strength in defense and his full repertoire of short and long passing adding a solid, steadying force in the middle of the park. Justin Garces was largely untested in goal, but was confident with the ball at his feet and ready for his chance when India got their lone shot on target in the first half.
The U.S. offense, including Andrew Carleton, struggled to break through India’s organized deep-lying defense for much of the first half. That’s until American striker Josh Sargent, who recently signed for Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, drew a penalty and opened the scoring from the spot before halftime. With India forced to venture forward, the American offense – and especially Andrew Carleton – sparked to life in the second half. He got his first look with a nice dribble and shot on target just after the second half whistle. Then, after Chris Durkin doubled the U.S. lead, Carleton almost created the third with this beautiful turn and pass to set his teammate free behind the defense.
But Carleton wouldn’t be denied on his World Cup debut. In the 84th minute, he latched onto a lobbed through ball behind the defense, calmly rounded the keeper and sealed the 3-0 victory with his first World Cup goal.
The three points kicks off the United States U-17 team's World Cup run on a positive note, but they will look to continue that form on Monday in the second game of the group stages against Ghana. They will then face Colombia in the final group stage game on Thursday as they look to clinch a spot in the knockout rounds.