Canada loses 13th straight at FIFA U-17 World Cup soccer tournament

PACHUCA, Mexico – Canada’s run of defeats at the FIFA U-17 World Cup was extended to 13 straight Sunday after a 3-0 loss to Uruguay in the tournament opener for both teams.

In five trips to the under-17 world soccer championship, Canada has yet to earn a point and has been outscored 45-3.

This Canadian side did not deserve to be lumped onto that ugly history. The Canadians showed flair against a well-organized South American side and had their chances but, as in pre-tournament friendlies, paid for their mistakes.

Two late goals made the scoreline seemed harsher that the game deserved.

Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau deserved a better fate, making several good saves, and had little chance on second-half goals by Juan Cruz Marcia and Guillermo Mendez.

Crepeau left on a stretcher in the 89th minute after being hurt in a collision with Marcia. Quillan Roberts replaced him and gave up a goal in injury time to Elbio Alvarez.

Uruguay’s opener came in the 52nd minute from Marcia, a highly touted striker who has already drawn the attention of Spain’s Atletico Madrid, on a sunny evening at Estadio Hidalgo.

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The goal came off an Alvarez corner that Canadian captain Bryce Alderson and Daniel Stanese failed to clear. The ball dropped at the feet of the Uruguay star who turned and fired it high into the net with his left foot from close range.

Defender Luca Gasparotto had let the ball run out, thinking it would be a goal kick but a corner was awarded instead. A replay suggested the ball had indeed come off the Canadian’s chest.

Gasparotto had a chance to redeem himself off a free kick in the 61st minute but his header was palmed over the bar by goalkeeper Jonathan Cubero. Keven Aleman also had a good chance in the 74th but was stopped by Cubero.

Mendez converted a penalty to make it 2-0 in the 85th minute. Canadian defender Adam Polakiewicz was booked on the play for bringing down the Uruguayan who was trying to get his own rebound after Crepeau stopped his header.

Uruguay, which finished second in South American qualifying, outshot Canada 21-7 (7-4 in shots on target).

This marks Canada’s fifth trip to the under-17 championships and first since 1995, having missing out on seven editions of the tournament before finishing runner-up to the U.S. in CONCACAF qualifying in February.

Canada hosted the tournament in 1987 and also qualified for the 1989 competition in Scotland, ’93 in Japan, and ’95 in Ecuador.

Uruguay had more of the possession in the first half with the Canadians looking to counter-attack. The South Americans outshot the Canadians 12-3 in the first 45 minutes but only 3-2 in shots on target.

Crepeau was called into action early parrying a hard shot from Juan San Martin in the seventh minute after Samuel Piette was dispossessed in his own half.

One minute later, the Canadians found themselves in disarray in their penalty box but the Uruguayans could not get a shot off in the mass of bodies.

A diving Crepeau stopped San Martin again in the 12th.

The Canadians responded with a nifty attack in the 14th minute but Michael Petrasso’s toe poke bounced off a defender. Petrasso had another chance soon after but he failed to get off a decent shot after a nice one-two with Sadi Jalali and Cubero easily gathered the ball.

Cubero stopped speedy Yassin Essa in the 33rd minute but the Canadian’s left-footed shot did not do justice to the buildup.

Alvarez forced a lunging Crepeau save in the 39th minute off a long-range, swerving free kick that was on target.

Crepeau had to be sharp to palm the ball away second later after a long ball found San Martin in the penalty box behind the Canadian defence.

Crepeau was called upon in the 50th, making a good stop off a Leonardo Pais shot following a long kick by the Uruguayan goalie.

Canada’s next game is Wednesday against England, which defeated Rwanda 2-0 in the other Group C game Sunday. Uruguay takes on Rwanda next.

In Group D play Sunday, the U.S. defeated the Czech Republic 3-0 and New Zealand downed Uzbekistan 4-1.

The 24-team tournament, the 12th edition of the under-17 world championship, runs through July 10 in the Mexican cities of Guadalajara, Monterrey, Morelia, Torreon, Pachuca, Queretaro and Mexico City.

The top two teams in each of the six groups and the four best third-place teams will advance to the knockout quarter-finals.

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