The American Outlaws supporters group kept chanting deep into second-half stoppage time. We want more. We want more. We want more.
They got it from Rayshaun McGann just a little later, but it wasn’t needed Wednesday.
That’s because the front three attack of Ayomide Akinola, Joshua Sargent and Andrew Carleton dismantled Portugal’s defense throughout the soccer match.
Consequently, the United States Men’s National Team U-17s walked away with a 7-1 victory to take first place following the first day of the Nike International Friendlies at the Lakewood Ranch Premier Sports Campus.
“They come to every game, they did last year,” said Sargent about the supporter’s group. “They’re just great supporters. We love them. As long as they keep cheering us on, we’ll keep providing for them.”
The tournament resumes Friday with the U.S. playing Turkey in the second match, which is slated for a 7 p.m. start. Brazil defeated Turkey, 4-2, in Wednesday’s first match.
For the U.S. on Wednesday, it was Akinola and Carleton pushing the tempo on both flanks with Sargent acting as the link in the middle of the three-pronged attack.
Sargent netted his first career hat trick in a U.S. shirt.
“It’s an amazing feeling and against Portugal, it’s even bigger,” Sargent said.
Carleton and Akinola each added braces as the trio combined to play a role in six of Team USA’s seven goals against Portugal.
“All three of them are exceptional attacking players,” USMNT U-17 head coach John Hackworth said. “Sometimes they don’t get those goals, but they’re a good balance. Josh combines a work ethic and a really good soccer mind. ... Ayo and Andrew have some special qualities. They’re different, so it’s hard to defend us.”
Akinola set up the first USA goal when he was dragged down in the penalty area. Carleton delivered from the penalty spot in the eighth minute. Then Sargent bagged the first of his three goals off an Akinola assist from the right wing just 11 minutes later.
“Me and Andrew and Josh, we have a lot of chemistry together,” Akinola said.
Carleton added his second goal at a key juncture. The U.S. clung to a 2-1 lead and a looping ball was lobbed high over the top of Portugal’s defense from George Acosta.
Carleton met it with a one-touch volley that beat goalkeeper Joao Monteiro to regain a two-goal cushion for the U.S.
However, Portugal had its chances, too.
It was just 3-1 at halftime and two shots found the post in the second period. Plus, midfielder Romario Baro dazzled with two Zidane roulettes, a soccer move where he rotated 360 degrees touching the ball with both feet at different points to get past USA defenders.
The sequence set up a Portuguese chance in the final third, but it didn’t come off.
“You have to give (goalkeeper) Justin (Garces) credit,” Carleton said. “He came up with some huge saves to keep us in the lead.”
Meanwhile, Team USA had little trouble with finishing its attacks.
And two particular moments were arguably the best to showcase that attacking prowess.
On the individual side, Sargent completed his hat trick with a nifty back-heel goal in the 82nd minute.
And on the team side, there was arguably no better display than the USA’s fifth goal, which featured an inch-perfect cross from the left wing off Blaine Ferri’s foot.
The play involved the triumvirate of Akinola, Sargent and Carleton.
Ferri’s pass found Sargent in space inside the box, who one-touch passed it back to Carleton. He fired off a one-time shot, which zoomed toward Akinola in front of Portugal’s goal. His redirected effort found twine.
“It was difficult when we first came together, but you could tell how much we’ve grown as a team and our chemistry is like no other,” Sargent said. “It’s amazing getting balls from them, because you know they’re going to make something happen.”
Nike International Friendlies
Who: U-17 national teams
What: 14th annual event
When: Friday and Sunday
Where: Premier Sports Campus, Lakewood Ranch
Friday: Portugal vs. Brazil, 3:30 p.m.
U.S. vs. Turkey, 7 p.m.
Sunday: Turkey vs. Portugal, 1:30 p.m.
U.S. vs. Brazil, 5 p.m.
Online: All matches streamed on ussoccer.com