After qualifying for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic with its decisive 2-1 Classification Stage win against El Salvador on Friday, the USA now looks for its first CONCACAF U-20 Championship title, and first regional youth crown for the USA since the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, when they take on Honduras in Sunday’s Final. The match kicks off at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose at 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Univision Deportes Network and via livestream on the official CONCACAF Facebook page. Fans can also follow along on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.
Sunday’s match marks the fourth Final appearance by the U.S. and second for Honduras in the history of the CONCACAF U-20 tournament. In all four of their outright championship games, the USA has finished as runners up to Mexico twice (1980, 2009), Honduras (1982), and Costa Rica (2009). Before defeating the U.S. for the title in 1982, Honduras lost to Mexico, 4-3, on penalty kicks in the 1976 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament Final, after playing to a 0-0 draw in regulation.
The USA enters the game following its victory against El Salvador, which saw Emmanuel Sabbi and Eryk Williamson’s first-half finishes followed by a physical second half in which referee Jafeth Parea issued nine cards and sent three players off. Of the 11 total bookings during the match, four U.S. players were shown yellow cards, while Sebastián Saucedo, sent off in the 89th minute, will miss Sunday’s Final due to suspension.
In reaching the Final, Honduras posted two wins in Classification Stage Group E, defeating Panama 2-0 and Costa Rica 2-1. Honduras advanced to the Classification Stage with a second place finish in Group A, where a 1-0 win against Canada and 5-1 victory vs. Antigua and Barbuda preceded a close 1-0 defeat to Mexico.
The final draw for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic will be held March 15. The tournament will be played from May 20-June 11 in Cheonan, Daejeon, Incheon, Seogwipo, Jeonju and Suwon. The U.S. has now qualified for 15 FIFA U-20 World Cups, while Honduras is headed to their seventh.
USA vs. Honduras History
The USA and Honduras Under-20 National Teams have faced each other eight times in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying competitions. Honduras holds a 4-1-3 advantage in the series, although the last two meetings in 1996 and 2009 both ended in 0-0 draws. The USA’s only win against Honduras came in a 4-0 victory in the Final Round of the
1992 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament in Canada.
Golden Opportunity for Lennon
Forward Brooks Lennon has paced the U-20 MNT through much of the tournament, popping up with a hat trick in a 4-1 win vs. Haiti, another goal in the 4-1 victory vs. St. Kitts and Nevis and the game-winning assist in Monday’s 1-0 result against Mexico.
With four goals heading into Sunday’s Final, Lennon sits tied for second with Panama’s Ricardo Ávila in the tournament’s Golden Boot standings, still within striking range of Mexico’s Ronaldo Cisneros who ended the competition with six.
Reaching the Big Stage
Since 1976, when the CONCACAF tournament became the qualification funnel to the
U-20 FIFA World Cup, the United States has advanced to 15 World Cups out of 21 qualification opportunities and nine of the last 10 before the 2017 tournament. The USA’s best World Cup finish came at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship, in which they fell 2-0 to Brazil in the Third Place Game. In the history of the CONCACAF U-20 tournament, the U.S. has reached the Championship match or Final Group seven times: 1980, 1982, 1986, 1992, 2009, 2013 and 2017.
Since 1962, Honduras has participated in 18 of the possible 26 CONCACAF U-20 tournaments, including 2017. Although they were originally crowned as Champions of the 1982 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament following a 1-0 win against U.S., the recognition and World Cup berth were taken away shortly thereafter when the team was disqualified for using overage players.
Of the 17 CONCACAF U-20 tournaments Honduras has participated in prior to 2017, Los Catrachos have posted a 51-18-13 record and punched tickets to the U-20 FIFA World Cup six times. Although a Honduras team has never made it out of the Group Stage during those six
U-20 World Cup opportunities, they came closest to advancing at the 1977 FIFA World Youth Championship in Tunisia when they finished second in their group behind Uruguay.
Qualifying Format Change
The CONCACAF U-20 Championship format changed for 2017, with 12 teams split into three, four-team groups. Under the current setup, the top two teams from each group advance to a Classification Stage, featuring two groups with three teams each. In that second group stage, the top two finishers in each group qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the first-place teams in each group move on to play for the tournament title.
U.S. U-20 MNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jonathan Klinsmann (University of California; Newport Beach, Calif.), JT Marcinkowski (Georgetown; Alamo, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (7): Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake; Salt Lake City, Utah), Marlon Fossey (Fulham FC; Surbiton, England), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Aaron Herrera (New Mexico; Casa Grande, Ariz.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC; Oviedo, Fla.), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union; Media, Pa.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; Wappingers Falls, N.Y), Luca de la Torre (Fulham FC; San Diego, Calif.), Jonathan Gonzalez (CF Monterrey; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Jeremiah Gutjahr (Indiana University; Bloomington, Ind.), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake; Park City, Utah), Eryk Williamson (University of Maryland; Alexandria, Va.)
FORWARDS (5): Coy Craft (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers; Bethesda, Md.), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake; Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; Plantation, Fla.), Emmanuel Sabbi (UD Las Palmas; Libertyville, Ill.)
USA ROSTER BREAKDOWN:
On Feb. 9, U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos named a 20-player roster for the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The roster includes one member of the USA’s 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup team in defender Erik Palmer-Brown. Ramos named Palmer-Brown the team captain a few days prior to the qualifying tournament.
Eleven players represent clubs in Major League Soccer: defenders Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC) and Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union), midfielders Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Coy Craft (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC) and Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake), and forwards Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers) and Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake).
Midfielder Luca de la Torre and defender Marlon Fossey are teammates with English side Fulham FC, while Jonathan Gonzalez represents Liga MX side Monterrey and forward Emmanuel Sabbi is attached to Spanish club Las Palmas.
The remaining five players play collegiately: goalkeepers Jonathan Klinsmann (University of California) and JT Marcinkowski (Georgetown), defender Aaron Herrera (New Mexico), and midfielders Jeremiah Gutjahr (Indiana University) and Eryk Williamson (University of Maryland).