It was not a match that will live long in the memory but New Zealand coach Aaron McFarland and his USA counterpart Wilmer Cabrera will not be bothered about that after seeing their sides both advance to the next stage.
Uzbekistan finish at the top of Group D after beating Czech Republic 2-1 in the pool’s other match while New Zealand and the USA will have to be separated on lots after ending with exactly the same record from their three games.
The drawing of lots in Mexico City will determine which team finishes second and which goes through in third.
New Zealand coach Aaron McFarland was delighted to see his young charges extend their involvement in the tournament and was not surprised at how the afternoon unfolded.
“The game was as expected,” he said. “We did our homework on the USA and we knew what was going to come our way.”
The Young All Whites results so far have pleased the coach but he stressed that the manner of the performances has been just as satisfying.
“What’s important is how our boys have played here in Mexico and I am pleased that we are moving through to the second round as this was our goal. It’s a great achievement for our country, a young football nation.”
Knowing an early goal would give them a great chance of topping the group, the Americans began brightly and, as was the case in their previous outing against the Czech Republic, McFarland’s side had to concede first-half dominance to the opposition.
New Zealand tried to make best use of the possession they received but found it difficult to pass their way through the well-organised USA side and it wasn’t until the final moments of the half that they carved out their first real opportunity.
Fullback Harshae Raniga jinked his way down the left-hand touchline and moved the ball inside to midfielder Jordan Vale, whose turn and cross found the head of striker Tim Payne. But the Waitakere United youngster could not get his effort on target and it bounced harmlessly wide of goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh’s post.
Both teams knew a draw would be enough to see them progress from the tight group but began the second spell with plenty of attacking intent, kiwi goalkeeper Scott Basalaj being called into action in the 52nd minute to acrobatically palm away a close-range Alejandro Guido drive.
Three minutes later, New Zealand had a chance at the other end when Stephen Carmichael went in search of his fourth goal of the tournament but couldn’t get enough power in his edge-of-the-box shot to unduly trouble McIntosh.
The shape of the game was to change in the 69th minute though when USA skipper Marc Pelosi received his marching orders for his second bookable offence, this time a cynical tug on the shirt of Carmichael.
The dismissal signalled the end of the Americans’ attacking mindset and from then on they were happy to sit back and hang on to the point they needed.
Likewise mindful of their need for a point, the Young All Whites did not drive home their numerical advantage and were content to keep possession for the remaining 20 minutes and book their place in the next round.
“We have now reached the second round twice in a row at the U-17 World Cup – we’re moving in the right direction,” McFarland said.
In the Round of 16, New Zealand will face either Group B winners Japan in Monterrey on June 29 or the winner of Group E in Queretaro on June 30.
FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011
Group D
Estadio Hidalgo
Pachuca, Mexico
New Zealand 0
Halftime: 0-0
New Zealand: 1-Scott BASALAJ (gk), 2-Harshae RANIGA, 3-Stephen CARMICHAEL, 4-Reece LAMBERT, 5-Luke ADAMS (c), 6-Jordan VALE, 8-Rhys JORDAN, 9-Tim PAYNE, 10-Cameron HOWIESON (11-James DEBENHAM 54’), 12-Jesse EDGE (13-Cameron MARTIN 87’), 16-Bill TUILOMA.
Substitutes not used: 7-Kip COLVEY, 14-Ryan HOWLETT, 15-Dylan STANSFIELD, 17. Harley TAHAU, 18-Calvin OPPERMAN, 19-Ken YAMAMOTO, 20-Scott ARMISTEAD (rgk), 21-Liam ANDERSON (rgk).
Coach: Aaron McFARLAND
Cautions: Cameron HOWIESON 30’, Jordan VALE 61’
USA: 1-Kendall McINTOSH (gk), 2-Zachary CARROLL, 4-Joseph AMON, 5-Matthew DUNN, 6-Mobi FEHR, 7-Alfred KOROMA, 8-Esteban RODRIGUEZ, 9-Mario RODRIGUEZ (15-Alessandro MION 87’), 10-Alejandro GUIDO, 11-Marc PELOSI (c), 16-Kellyn ACOSTA.
Substitutes not used: 3-Nathan SMITH, 12-Fernando PINA (rgk), 13-Nico MELO, 14-Tarik SALKICIC, 17-Andrew SOUDERS, 18-Paul ARRIOLA, 19-Jack McBEAN, 20-Dillon SERNA, 21-Wade HAMILTON (rgk).
Coach: Wilmer CABRERA
Caution: Marc PELOSI 27’
Sending off: Marc PELOSI 69’