GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (Feb. 21, 2023) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s Youth National Team qualified to the FIFA U-17 World Cup with a wild, back-and-forth 5-3 victory against Guatemala in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Concacaf U-17 Championship. The USA clinched its World Cup ticket in hard-fought fashion, fending off a gritty Guatemala side energized by the raucous home crowd of 11,275 at Estadio Nacional Doroteo Guamuch Flores.
While the U.S. opened the scoring early with a seventh-minute goal from forward Brian Romero and another from forward Keyrol Figueroa in the 28th, a Guatemala penalty just before the break kept the hosts’ advancement hopes alive. The start of the second half saw three goals in the span of three minutes as a tally from Aiden Harangi and another from Figueroa sandwiched Guatemala’s second goal. Los Chapines made it a one-goal game again in the 74th before midfielder Taha Habroune finally put things out of reach in the 83rd.
With the victory, the USA qualifies to a record 18th FIFA U-17 World Cup as the fifth team to earn a berth to this year’s tournament, set for November/December in Peru. The U.S. will be joined by Mexico, who defeated El Salvador 3-0 in the first quarterfinal match tonight, and two other quarterfinal winners from Concacaf. The U.S. advances to the semifinals of the Concacaf U-17 Championship on Friday, Feb. 24 (8 p.m. ET; FS2, ViX+) against the winner of tomorrow’s Canada-Puerto Rico match.
The U.S. had trouble finding its rhythm offensively against a Guatemala team buoyed by its boisterous home crowd, but still found the game’s opening goal in the seventh minute. Vazquez won the ball just outside the Guatemala 18 and sent in a well-timed cross for the onrushing Romero, who slotted it home. The U.S. nearly doubled its early lead a few minutes later, when Romero played in a nice ball for Vazquez in the 11th.
Los Chapines gave the U.S. trouble with their press and kept up a bruising, physical defense as the half wore on. While the U.S. once again had the advantage in possession, 67 percent to 33 percent, Guatemala made advancing the ball difficult. The U.S. broke through on a few line-breaking passes and runs down the wing, and Vazquez again sparked the second goal on the left side in the 28th. He played a ball from deep on the wing to Figueroa near the six and while a Guatemala defender deflected the initial cross, the center forward stuck with the play and doubled the American advantage with his follow-up attempt.
All of Guatemala’s early shots came outside from outside the box, but it began to venture deeper into U.S. territory as the half continued. The host nation finally got on the board in the aftermath of a free kick in the 43rd. As the U.S. attempted to clear, the referee whistled for a questionable handball and pointed to the penalty spot. While Ferree guessed the right direction, he wasn’t able to save Olger Escobar’s attempt and the New England Revolution forward’s goal sent Guatemala into the break with momentum.
The hosts carried that momentum into a wild opening to the second half, getting out on the front foot before right back Aiden Harangi added to the U.S. lead in the 50th as he charged downfield to strike a hard-rolling shot from 25 yards out. Guatemala responded almost immediately, as a long ball over the top fell to forward Gabino Vasquez, whose spinning finish brought Los Chapines back within one in the 52nd. The U.S. answered in turn as Figueroa bagged his brace just a minute later. After an initial save by goalkeeper Diego Bolaños, he hit the bouncing rebound through the Guatemala defense for his sixth goal of the competition, tied for the tournament lead.
Los Chapines refused to go down easy, buoyed by the ever-fervent home crowd. They climbed back to a one-goal deficit once again in the 74th, as midfielder Antony Recinos headed a ball for defender Carlos Aguilar after a well-taken corner kick to set up a tense final 16 minutes for the U.S.
The U-17 MYNT was finally able to put things to bed in the 83rd as second-half substitute Paulo Rudisill played a lovely cross in for Habroune. The midfielder met the ball at the six and tapped it past Bolaños to secure the USA’s World Cup berth and advancement to the semifinals.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
USA – Brian Romero (David Vazquez), 7th minute: After Guatemala seemed to have defused a U.S. attacking run, Vazquez’s hard-charging press was rewarded as he won the ball back at the 18. He drove forward and as Guatemala goalkeeper Diego Bolaños came out to play the ball, he cut it to Romero, who hit a hard-rolling shot from the right side of the six to the left side of the net for the game’s opening goal. USA 1, GUA 0
USA – Keyrol Figueroa, 28th minute: Vazquez again helped tee up the second goal of the game, this time for Figueroa. Driving down the left wing, he sent a cross into the box for the center forward near the six. While a Guatemala defender managed to get a foot on the ball and deflect it, Figueroa stuck with the play and regained the ball 10 yards out before slotting it past the ‘keeper to the left post. USA 2, GUA 0
GUA – Olger Escobar (Penalty Kick), 45+1st minute: In the aftermath of a Guatemala free kick in the U.S. half, a controversial handball call led to the referee pointing to the penalty spot. Escobar stepped up and sent a shot to the left side of the net. While goalkeeper Duran Ferree guessed correctly, he wasn’t able to make the save and Escobar’s goal sent the home crowd into a frenzy going into halftime. USA 2, GUA 1
USA – Aiden Harangi (Cruz Medina), 50th minute: After a tenuous start to the second half, the U.S. got back on the front foot with Medina driving down the left wing and playing a ball just beyond the top of the box. Midfielder Taha Habroune left it for the hard-charging Harangi, who hammered it from 25 yards out to the left post past the outstretched Bolaños. USA 3, GUA 1
GUA – Gabino Vasquez (Kevin Illescas), 52nd minute: Guatemala answered quickly with a long ball from Kevin Illescas down the right side of the field. Inside the corner of the box, Vasquez spun to shield it and volleyed the bouncing ball to the far left post to keep it a one-goal game. USA 3, GUA 2
USA – Keyrol Figueroa, 53rd minute: Working down the middle of the field, Romero played to Medina near the penalty spot. Bolaños came off his line to make a play on the midfielder and Medina dished to Figueroa on the left side of the box. The goalkeeper slid to deflect his shot, but the rebound fell right back to Figueroa and his second attempt was a bouncing ball that went through the Guatemalan defense to the far right post. USA 4, GUA 2
GUA – Carlos Aguilar (Antony Recinos), 74th minute: Guatemala kept its World Cup hopes alive by turning a late free kick deep in U.S. territory into a goal as Escobar served a ball to the far left post. There, Recinos headed it across the goal frame back to the middle of the six and Aguilar leapt above his mark to send a strong header to the right post and draw Los Chapines closer. USA 4, GUA 3
USA – Taha Habroune (Paulo Rudisill), 83rd minute: Forward Micah Burton found Rudisill open on the run down the right side of the field. He one-timed it back into the box towards the six, where it fell to a late-arriving Habroune. The Columbus Crew midfielder tapped it around the diving Bolaños to the middle of the net to ice the game for the U.S. USA 5, GUA 3
- The USA has now qualified to a record 18 FIFA U-17 World Cups. Brazil can match the record when CONMEBOL holds its World Cup qualifying tournament later this spring. Brazil earned an automatic berth in 2019 as host of the tournament.
- The U.S., Mexico and New Zealand are the only three countries to qualify for the last four U-17 World Cups. Brazil, Chile, France and Paraguay still have the opportunity to join the list of nations to reach every age group world championship since 2015.
- Head coach Gonzalo Segares made six changes from the starting lineup that downed Dominican Republic 7-0 in the Round of 16. Defenders Christian Diaz and Sawyer Jura, midfielders Taha Habroune and Pedro Soma plus forward Keyrol Figueroa were the holdovers.
- Figueroa’s six goals are currently tied for the lead in the tournament’s Golden Boot race with Mexico’s Stephano Carrillo.
- Nine players have scored for the U.S. at CU17C: Figueroa (six goals), Habroune, Cruz Medina (three), Chris Aquino, Micah Burton, Ezekiel Soto (two), Aiden Harangi, Brian Romero and Paulo Rudisill.
- Eight players have logged an assist: Rudisill (four assists), David Vazquez (three), Adrian Gill, Habroune, Romero (two), Figueroa, Jura, Medina and Soto.
-U.S UNDER-17 MEN’S YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT-
Match: United States Under-17 Men’s Youth National Team vs. Guatemala
Date: Feb. 21, 2023
Competition: 2023 Concacaf U-17 Championship – Quarterfinal
Venue: Estadio Nacional Doroteo Guamuch Flores; Guatemala City, Guatemala
Kickoff: 7 p.m. local (8 p.m. ET)
Weather: 71 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 3 5
GUA 1 2 3
USA – Brian Romero (David Vazquez) 7th minute
USA – Keyrol Figueroa 28
GUA – Olger Escobar 45+1
USA – Aiden Harangi (Cruz Medina) 50
GUA - Gabino Vasquez (Kevin Illescas) 52
USA – Keyrol Figueroa 53
GUA – Carlos Aguilar (Antony Recinos) 74
USA – Taha Habroune (Paulo Rudisill) 83
USA: 1-Duran Ferree; 13-Aiden Harangi, 15-Christian Diaz, 4-Tyler Hall (Capt.), 13-Sawyer Jura; 8-Pedro Soma, 14-Taha Habroune (15-Stuart Hawkins, 87), 10-Cruz Medina (16-Adrian Gill, 70); 7-Brian Romero (19-Paulo Rudisill, 71), 17-Keyrol Figueroa (9-Micah Burton, 56), 11-David Vazquez (18-Ezekiel Soto, 86)
Substitutes not used: 12-Adam Beaudry, 2-Oscar Verhoeven, 6-Edwyn Mendoza, 20-Chris Aquino
Head coach: Gonzalo Segares
GUA: 1-Diego Bolanos; 3-Daniel Merida (Capt.), 5-Jeffrey Lopez, 7-Hector Prillwitz (20-Jorge de Leon, 75), 8-Santiago Garazo, 11-Gabino Vasquez, 13-Selvin Sagastume (9-Oseas Guerra, 56), 14-Kevin Illescas, 16-Elvi Ellington (15-Carlos Aguila, 12), 17-Anthony Recinos (18-Anthony Salama, 75), 19-Olgar Escobar
Substitutes not used: 12-John Lutin, 2-Nicolas Chinchilla, 4-Cristopher Raymundo, 6-Ariel Lon
Head coach: Marvin Cabrera
Stats Summary: USA / GUA
Shots: 14 / 16
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 2 / 1
Corner Kicks: 3 / 1
Fouls: 15 / 7
Offside: 3 / 2
GUA – Kevin Illescas (Caution) 38th minute
USA – Christian Diaz (Caution) 73
USA – Duran Ferree (Caution) 88
USA – Micah Burton (Caution) 90
Referee: Victor Caceres (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Michel Espinoza (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Leonardo Castillo (MEX)
Fourth Official: Jefferson Escobar (HON)