Photo courtesy Victor Straffon / Straffon Images
SAN JUAN, Costa Rica – The United States U20s took a major step forward in their pursuit of both the 2017 CONCACAF U20 Championship and the 2017 FIFA World Cup as they took a 1-0 victory against Mexico on Monday evening at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa on Monday night. Neither side created much in the way of chances in the opening 25 minutes, but the U.S. took the lead just before the half-hour mark when captain Erik Palmer-Brown headed home Brooks Lennon’s corner kick clinically from eight yards out. Lennon followed with a good shot from 20 yards that was saved by Mexico goalkeeper Jose Hernandez six minutes before the break, but the U.S. held its one-goal lead until the halftime break. The United States continued to hold the upper hand in midfield during the second half, and both former OKC Energy FC loanee Coy Craft and Jonathan Lewis had breakaway chances to put the game away late, but the U.S. held on to take a massive three points, and its first victory at this level against Mexico in 31 years.
29’ – USA – Erik Palmer-Brown (Brooks Lennon)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The U.S. claimed a crucial victory, which put the side in the driver’s seat to both reach the FIFA U20 World Cup and the final of the championship, thanks to an outstanding display by the midfielder trio of captain Erik Palmer-Brown, Eryk Williamson and 2016 USL Cup-winner Tyler Adams, who stifled their Mexican counterparts and controlled the tempo and location of the game. Mexico had the upper hand in possession, but only completed 71 percent of its passes and was held without a shot on goal thanks to the United States’ excellent pressure throughout the game.
2. By dictating the territory the game was played in for much of the game, the United States looked consistently the more likely to find the net, but in the end it was a classic set piece goal that lifted the side into the lead. Brooks Lennon’s delivery from a corner on the left was ideal, and Palmer-Brown’s header was well-placed to leave Mexico goalkeeper Jose Hernandez flat-footed and his post defender unable to clear.
3. The U.S. can now sit back and relax a little as they await the result of Mexico and El Salvador’s meeting on Wednesday night knowing that they have will have the opportunity to achieve their goal of becoming the first U.S. side to claim the CONCACAF U20 Championship. The U.S. finished as runner-up in both 2009 and 2013, as the tournament had no final knockout stage between 1998 and 2007. Now a victory on Friday against El Salvador would book a place in Sunday’s final.
United States – vs. El Salvador, Friday, March 3, 6:30 p.m. ET
Mexico – vs. El Salvador, Wednesday, March 1, 5:30 p.m. ET