PANAMA CITY — The United States took a major step toward reaching the Under-17 World Cup by registering a 4-3 win over Mexico in the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Wednesday night.
The Americans (2-0-0, 6 points), who reached the final round, ended El Tri’s (1-1-0, 3) 25-game unbeaten streak (20-0-5) at the U-17 level at rain-drenched Estadio Maracana Wednesday night.
Blaine Ferri broke a 2-2 deadlock in the 51st minute and Ayo Akinola added a counterattack goal from 10 yards in the 84th minute in one of the most memorable group matches in the history of the competition.
The Americans needed those goals because their defender Jaylin Lindsey scored an own goal to pull Mexico within a goal a minute into second-half stoppage time of the rain-drenched match.
An entertaining, high-scoring first half turned into a duel between Roberto De La Rosa and Josh Sargent.
With the match only six minutes old, De La Rosa struck first as he ran onto a long ball, held off defender Chris Gloster (a member of the New York City FC Academy), who was on his back, and beat goalkeeper Justin Garces from 15 yards.
Then Sargent demonstrated his finishing touch over during a 14-minute span.
First, he ran down a long ball on the right flank and beat defenders Carlos Robles and Raul Sandoval before placing the ball past goalkeeper Cesar Lopez in the 26th minute.
In the 40th minute, Sargent demonstrated his tenacity. After Lopez saved his close-range shot, Sargent gathered in the rebound and slotted it home for his third goal of the competition and a 2-1 advantage.
Not to be outdone, De La Rosa equalized in the 44th minute. Daniel Lopez sent a spot-on right-wing cross to the left side as the striker headed a line drive past Garces for a 2-2 deadlock.
The Americans retook the lead at 3-2 in the 51st minute as Ferri fired a 23-yard shot into the lower left corner.
NYC FC defender James Sands played for the U.S.
The USA needs only a against last-place El Salvador Saturday to clinch the group title. A draw against Jamaica will see the Mexicans through to the next round.
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
Referee: Jose Kellys (PAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Daniel Williamson (PAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Alejandro Camarena (PAN)
4th Official: Juan Gabriel Calderon (CRC)