BRADENTON, Fla. (Nov. 16, 2018) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team secured its place at the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Friday night with a convincing 4-0 win over Costa Rica at the 2018 Concacaf Under-20 Championship in Bradenton, Fla. Alex Mendez scored a highlight-reel goal from distance early on and Ulysses Llanez, Juan Pablo Torres and Ayo Akinola closed out the scoring to give the USA three points and guarantee a top two finish in Group G of the Qualification Stage of the tournament. The USA will face Honduras next, needing a tie or win to advance to the title game.
The USA once again started on the front foot and took a lead early on off the foot of midfielder Alex Mendez. Center back Mark McKenzie played a low ball down the center of the field to Mendez, who with his back to goal, spun to set up his favored left before ripping a blast from 30 yards into the upper left corner for his sixth goal of the tournament.
Ulysses Llanez doubled the lead five minutes later, running at the defense from the left side before tucking a shot between the goalkeeper and near post for his team-leading seventh goal in five games.
Juan Pablo Torres extended the lead on a second-effort goal just after the break, and Ayo Akinola’s flicked header secured the win and the USA’s 16 th appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be held in Poland in May-June 2019.
The USA has qualified for four straight FIFA Under-20 World Cups – all under the guidance of head coach Tab Ramos – and 11 of the past 12. With Honduras tying Costa Rica earlier in the week, the result leaves Costa Rica with one point in the Qualification Stage triangular, guaranteeing the USA a top two finish with the last group match on Monday against Honduras.
Up Next: The U-20 MNT will face Honduras on Monday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. ET at IMG Academy Stadium in Bradenton, Fla. The USA would advance to the title game with a draw or win over Honduras. The match can be seen live on UDN and theConcacafGo app.Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_ynt;@ussoccer_esp);Facebook; Instagram
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Alex Mendez (Mark McKenzie), 7th minute: Center back Mark McKenzie played a direct low pass down from the midfield line down the center to Alex Mendez, who receive the ball with his back to the goal, spun to his favored left foot and ripped a shot from 30 yards out into the upper left corner of the goal. USA 1, CRC 0
USA – Ulysses Llanez (Juan Pablo Torres), 19th minute: The play started on the right side of midfield with Paxton Pomykal, who pushed it to left to Mendez, who touched to Juan Pablo Torres who found Ullysses Llanez on the left sideline. Llanez then did the work, running at the defense before shooting from the edge of the box and tucking the ball into the near post. USA 2, CRC 0
USA – Juan Pablo Torres (Ayo Akinola), 49th minute: Second half substitute Ayo Akinola sent in a low cross from the right side to the top of the six that Torres attempted to hit first-time, only to see a defender’s slight touch move the ball forward. Falling to the ground, Torres stayed with it and on the second effort - from his seat – kicked the ball past both defenders and the goalkeeper for his fourth goal. USA 3, CRC 0
USA – Ayo Akinola (Alex Mendez), 76th minute: Mendez once again was involved in a goal, this time lifting a freekick from the right side into the area finding Akinola who flicked a header over the defense for his sixth goal of the tournament. USA 2, CRC 0
- The USA is unbeaten in its last 11 Concacaf U-20 Championship matches dating back to the opener of 2017, establishing a new team record for longest stretch without a loss in this tournament. Previously, the USA went unbeaten in 10 games from the opener of 2005 (5-0-1), 2007 (2-0-1), before falling to Costa Rica in the 2009 final after going 2-0-2.
- With the result, U.S. head coach Tab Ramos moves to 18-3-2 all-time in Concacaf U-20 Championship play and has led the team to four straight World Cups.
- The USA is now 5-3-4 all-time against Costa Rica in this tournament.
- Matt Real returned to the field as team captain after sitting out the last two matches of the group stage with a yellow card.
- Ulysses Llanez scored his team-high seventh goal of the tournament, while Alex Mendez and Ayo Akinola scored their sixth.
- Llanez’s seven goals leave him one shy of the USA’s tournament high of eight, set by Ricky Davis in 1976.
- Paxton Pomykal and Justin Rennicks appeared in their team-high sixth game of the tournament.
- Jaylin Lindsey was scheduled to start at right back but sustained an injury during warmups and was replaced by Sergiño Dest before kickoff.
- Dest and Sebastian Soto made their first appearance after joining the team following the Group Stage.
- Brady Scott earned his third shutout and the team’s fourth of the tournament.
- Prior to the USA match, Mexico defeated El Salvador to also qualify for its 16th FIFA U-20 World Cup, which also meant Panama qualified after having defeated El Salvador earlier in the week.
- U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Match Report -
U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team vs. Costa Rica
Date: November 16, 2018
Competition: 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship; Qualification Stage
Venue: IMG Academy Stadium; Bradenton, Fla.
Kickoff: 7:15 p.m. ET
Weather: 56 degrees; clear
USA 2 2 4
CRC 0 0 0
USA – Alex Mendez (Mark McKenzie) 15th minute
USA – Ulysses Llanez (Juan Pablo Torres) 19
USA – Juan Pablo Torres (Ayo Akinola) 49
USA – Ayo Akinola (Alex Mendez) 76
USA: 1-Brady Scott; 22-Sergiño Dest, 4-Mark McKenzie, 5-Matt Real (capt.), 3-Chris Gloster; 8-Alex Mendez, 6-Brandon Servania, 7-Juan Pablo Torres ; 11-Ulysses Llanez (17-Ayo Akinola, 30), 10-Paxton Pomykal ; 23-Sebastian Soto (9-Justin Rennicks, 79)
Substitutes not used: 12-David Ochoa, 14-Manny Perez, 26-Chris Richards, 19-Samuel Rogers
Head Coach: Tab Ramos
1-Kevin Chamorro; 3-Orlando Galo, 2-Diego Mesén, 4-Alexis Gamboa, 15-Carlos
Martínez; 8-Sebastian Castro, 5-Amferny Arias; 16-Yecxy Jarquín, 10-Ronaldo
Araya (12-Jurguens Montenegro, 51), 7-Josue Abarcak (9-Andy Reyes, 46);
11-Andrés Gómez (17-Carlos Villegas, 66)
Substitutes not used: 18-Patrick Sequeira, 6-Walter Cortes, 13-Fernán Faerron, 14-Greivin Fonseca, 19-Joshua Navarro, 20-Rashir Parkins
Head coach: Breansse Camacho
Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 20 / 5
Shots on Goal: 7 / 2
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 2
Fouls: 22 / 26
Offside: 0 / 2
USA – Sergiño Dest (caution) 29th minute
CRC – Luis Ronaldo Araya (caution) 42
USA – Brandon Servania (caution) 55
CRC – Orlando Galo (caution) 55
CRC – Andy Reyes (caution) 61
CRC – Alexis Gamboa (caution) 75
Referee: Oshane Nation (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicholas Anderson (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Michael Barwegen (CAN)
4th Official: Oliver Vergara (PAN)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Alex Mendez