The U.S. took a big step on the road to the 2017 U17 Men’s World Cup with a historic 4-3 victory over rival Mexico in Panama City on a rain-soaked Wednesday night to secure a place in the Classification round.
The win was the first at this age level for the Americans over El Tri, bringing the U.S. record versus Mexico to 1-4-1, as well as being the first loss for Mexico’s U17’s in 25 matches.
Coach John Hackworth named Josh Sargent as team captain prior to the CONCACAF tournament and the 17-year-old from the famed St. Louis Scott Gallagher club proved up to the task tonight with an impressive brace.
The U.S. found itself in an early hole in the sixth minute when Roberto de la Rosa took a defense-splitting pass from Andres Perez and outran and outmuscled A.J. Vasquez before beating Justin Garces to put Mexico ahead just six minutes in.
The Young Yanks responded well to that setback and when Sargent equalized in the 26th minute it was no less than the U.S. deserved. Sargent ran onto Blaine Ferri’s long ball and showed plenty of poise, strength, and skill to fight off a defender and put his shot past Cesar Lopez in the Mexico goal.
Sargent was the picture of persistence when he put his team in front in the 40th minute after his first and second attempts at goal were rebuffed before the captain finally converted a nice little chip to beat Lopez.
Mexico struck back quickly with de la Rosa slipping James Sands and nodding home a perfect cross from Daniel Lopez to set up a thrilling final 45 minutes.
Blaine Ferri started the second half fireworks giving the U.S. the lead six minutes after the break with a 25-yard rocket that had the small Panama City crowd breaking into the USA! Chant.
The Americans scored an insurance goal in the 78th minute when substitute George Acosta fed Josh Sargent to spring a deadly counterattack. Sargent connected with a streaking Ayo Akinola who did well to finish a bouncing pass on the slick surface at Estadio Maracaná de Panamá.
The Yanks looked to be home free but that insurance goal proved a necessary one when Mexican pressure yielded an added time own goal off defender Jaylin Lindsey.
Mexico kept the pressure on but the Americans managed to run out the clock to advance to the Classification Round. Two three-team groups move on to the Qualification stage with the first two in each qualifying for the U17 World Cup this October in India.
Before that, the U.S. have one more Group C game to play versus El Salvador on Saturday night at 6:00 pm ET. Hackworth could opt to give some playing time to some of his backups against El Salvador who have lost both of their Group C matches, 6-0 to Mexico and 3-1 to Jamaica.
Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 2 4
MEX 2 1 3
MEX – Roberto de la Rosa (Andres Perez) 6th minute
USA – Josh Sargent (Blaine Ferri) 26
USA – Josh Sargent 40
MEX – Roberto de la Rosa (Daniel Lopez) 44
USA – Blaine Ferri (Andrew Carleton) 51
USA – Ayo Akinola (Josh Sargent) 78
MEX – Jaylin Lindsey (own goal) 90+2
USA: 1-Justin Garces; 3-Chris Gloster (13-Akil Watts, 46), 5-A.J. Vasquez, 4-James Sands, 2-Jaylin Lindsey; 8-Blaine Ferri, 6-Chris Durkin, 14-Chris Goslin (10-George Acosta, 80); 11-Andrew Carleton (19-Tim Weah, 75), 9-Josh Sargent (Capt.), 7-Ayo Akinola
Subs not used: 12-C.J. Dos Santos, 15-Zyen Jones, 16-Taylor Booth, 17-Bryan Reynolds, 18-Indiana Vassilev, 20-Adrian Villegas
Head coach: John Hackworth
MEX: 12-Cesar Lopez; 2-Adrian Vazquez, 3-Carlos Robles, 4-Luis Olivas (Capt.), 5-Raul Sandoval; 6-Luis Gamiz, 8-Alexis Gutierrez (17-Carlos Guerrero, 78), 11-Andres Perez (19-Cesar Huerta, 60); 7-Jairo Torres, 9-Daniel Lopez (20-Alfonso Alvarado, 71), 10-Roberto De La Rosa
Subs not used: 1-Andre Alcaraz, 13-Haret Ortega, 14-Alan Maeda, 15-Andres Catalan, 16-Marco Ruiz, 18-Victor Reyes
Head coach: Mario Arteaga
Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 10 / 8
Shots on Goal: 6 / 3
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 2 / 5
Fouls: 15 / 10
Offside: 3 / 0
MEX – Alexis Gutierrez (caution) 60th minute