PANAMA CITY, Panama – The U.S. Under-17 national team played to a 1-1 draw with Mexico before falling 5-4 on penalty kicks in the final of the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship at Estadio Rommel Fernandez Sunday.

In the group stage, the Americans defeated Mexico, 4-3.

The USA, which finished the tournament with a 5-0-1 mark, turns its focus to preparing for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, set for India Oct. 6-28.

The U.S. carried the play early on and came close to taking the lead in the 10th minute when Ayo Akinola’s opportunity was denied thanks to a last-gasp clearance from Mexico captain Luis Olivas. The Mexicans put their stamp on the remainder of the opening half and forced two diving saves out of U.S. goalkeeper Justin Garces.

El Tri carried their momentum early in the second half, as Daniel Lopez had a what would have been the go-ahead goal called back for a handball in the 53rd minute before Jairo Torres clanged his effort off the post five minutes later.

The U.S. broke through just after the hour mark when former B.W. Gottschee standout Tim Weah won a poor clearance at the back, leading to Andrew Carleton’s blistering effort in the 62nd minute. The U.S. had chances to increase the lead, as Josh Sargent’s run led to a point-blank save from goalkeeper Cesar Lopez in the 82nd minute before Chris Goslin hit the woodwork in the 90th minute.

Mexico finally broke through in second-half stoppage time as Robles headed home a cross from Daniel Lopez, sending the match to penalty kicks.

The teams converted each of the first three attempts in the shootout, but the pivotal penalty kick came in the fourth round when Akil Watts lifted his try just over the bar. After Alexis Gutierrez gave Mexico a 4-3 advantage, New York City FC’s James Sands gave the U.S. hope in the fifth round, only to see Roberto de la Rosa send the title-winning penalty inside the right post.

Garces was awarded the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper of the competition.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at