BRADENTON, Fla. (May 16, 2019)—The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team went the distance, but ultimately fell to Mexico 2-1 in extra time of the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship Final. With the result, the USA finishes as runner-up at the tournament, but comes away having qualified for a record 17th FIFA U-17 World Cup, which it will contest later this year in Brazil.
A frenetic first half played out from the opening whistle in front of a fervent pro-Mexico crowd at a near-capacity IMG Academy Soccer Stadium. The teams flew back and forth in the early-going, with both sides finding opportunities. Captain Gio Reyna and Gianluca Busio, the USA’s leading scorers at the tournament, catalyzed a number of dangerous attacks up the left wing and frequently threatened Mexico goalkeeper Eduardo Garcia.
Creating a number of goals directly from or in the aftermath of restarts throughout the tournament, the USA’s opening goal came in the mayhem following a corner kick. After Mexico’s initial attempted clearance, Reyna put another ball into the box, which found the head of Busio and bounced to the outstretched foot of center back Tayvon Gray. He flicked it to Griffin Yow at the near post, who tucked his header home for the game’s first goal in the ninth minute.
Mexico responded just eight minutes later, as Efrain Alvarez chipped a pass just over the top of the USA defense to find Santiago Muñoz streaking into the box. His header to the far post got past U.S. ‘keeper Damian Las to equalize for Mexico.
With the game tied, the USA started to take control of the tempo and possession, enjoying a number of extended spells in El Trí territory. While Mexico put together a few spurts of attack, by and large it was the USA working the ball around the attacking half and threatening inside the final third, as a number of shots from Busio and Reyna went off the woodwork and Garcia was forced into action. At the halftime whistle, the USA held over 60 percent of possession and outshot Mexico 15-3 as the U.S. front line -- Reyna, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Yow - continued to spark chances.
A renewed Mexico side came out after the break, buoyed by two halftime substitutions, and put Las and the U.S. back line a bit more to work while making life more difficult for the U.S. attack. El Tri threatened on a number of close-range free kick opportunities and streaking headers in the box, coming close to a winner in the 89th minute. A free kick from the right deflected in the area and rose to find Israel Luna who nodded it past Las and off the cross bar, before Victor Guzman’s follow-up header went over the goal.
That missed chance brought about extra time, where both teams found good spells of possession through the first frame, though couldn’t break through.
With a shootout looming, Mexico’s decisive goal would come in the 108th minute when Bryan Gonzalez received a pass up the left, broke towards the box and centered for Luna, whose one-time effort beat Las from close range.
Four U.S. players were named to the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship Best XI: Gianluca Busio, Kobe Hernandez, Daniel Leyva and Gio Reyna. The USA also received the tournament’s Fair Play Award.
Having qualified for a record 17th FIFA U-17 World Cup, Raphael Wicky’s side finished as runner-up at the tournament, going 6-1-0, while outscoring opponents 28-5 and keeping clean sheets in four of seven matches. The team next sets its sights on competing at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil later this year.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Griffin Yow (Tayvon Gray), 9th minute: After Mexico made an initial clearance off of a corner kick, Gio Reyna collected the ball just outside the box, and served another ball in. A leaping effort from Gianluca Busio saw him get a head on the ball at the near post, and it flew across goal, where Gray stretched out to get a toe on it. He poked it up to Yow at the opposite side of the net, where his header tucked the ball inside the post for the game’s opening goal. USA 1, MEX 0
MEX – Santiago Muñoz (Efrain Alvarez), 17th minute: Finding space on the move upfield, Efrain Alvarez chipped a pass just over a jumping U.S. defender to Santiago Muñoz on the run down the left wing. The forward met the ball with a header to the far post to equalize for Mexico. USA 1, MEX 1.
MEX – Israel Luna (Bryan Gonzalez), 108th minute: With penalties looming, Mexico broke through. Gonzalez received a ball up the left and broke towards the box before centering a low ball for Luna at the back post. Las got a piece of the attacker’s one-time effort, but it crept over the line. USA 1, MEX 2 FINAL.
Key Defensive Stops
MEX – Eduardo Garcia, 37th minute: After a misplayed clearance by Mexico fell to Busio at the top of the box, he fired a shot on goal, but Garcia was well-positioned to make the save. The deflection fell right to Reyna, who hit another shot on target, but the Mexican goalkeeper Eduardo Garcia recovered well to make another save.
- U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: May 16, 2019
Competition: 2019 U-17 Concacaf Championship - Final
Venue: IMG Academy; Bradenton, Florida
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 78 degrees; partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 OT1 OT2 F
USA 1 0 0 0 1
MEX 1 0 0 1 2
USA – Griffin Yow 9th minute
MEX – Santiago Muñoz (Efrain Álvarez) 17
MEX – Israel Luna (Bryan Gonz’alez) 108
USA: 1-Damian Las; 2-Joseph Scally,14-Tayvon Gray, 5-Kobe Hernandez-Foster, 3-Adam Armour (15-John Tolkin, 105); 6-Daniel Ulises Leyva, 16-Adam Saldana (20-Gilbert Fuentes, 116), 7-Gianluca Busio; 11-Griffin Yow (9-Ricardo Daniel Pepi, 70), 19-Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (17-Tyler Freeman, 86), 10-Giovanni Reyna (capt.)
Subs Not Used: 12-Chituru Odunze, 4-Axel Alejandre, 8-Bryang Kayo, 13-Mauricio Cuevas, 18-Jack De Vries
Head Coach: Raphael Wicky
MEX: 1-Eduardo Garcia, 13-Emilio Lara, 5-Rafael Martinez, 2-Jose Ruiz, 3-Victor Guzman, 11-Bryan Gonzalez, 6-Eugenio Pizzuto (capt.) (15-Edgar Martinez, 51), 10-Israel Luna, 16-Kevin Mariscal (8-Kevin Ortega, 109), 18-Efrain Alvarez (7-Luis Gustavo Martinez, 46), 19-Santiago Muñoz (9-Leonardo Correa, 81)
Subs Not Used: 14-Abraham Flores, 17-Luis Carlos Martinez, 12-Arturo Delgado, 20-Bruce El Mesmari
Head Coach: Marco Antonio Ruiz
Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 29 / 18
Shots on Goal: 8 / 5
Saves: 3 / 7
Corner Kicks: 11 / 3
Fouls: 17 / 12
Offside: 0 / 2
MEX – Luis Gustavo Martínez (caution) 60th minute
USA – Adam Armour (caution) 87
MEX – Israel Luna (caution) 119
Referee: Daneon Parchment (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicholas Anderson (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Kedlee Powell (CAY)
4th Official: Juan Gabriel Calderon (CRC)