BRADENTON, Fla. – This one was over a little after it got started.
The United States struck twice in the opening 11 minutes and cruised to a 7-1 victory over Puerto Rico in the Group A opener of the 2018 Concacaf Under-20 Championship at IMG Academy Stadium Thursday night.
Forward Justin Rennicks scored twice and set up another goal and Ayo Akinola also added a brace.
Midifielder Alex Mendez and Rennicks served as the USA’s spark plugs in the early going. In the fifth minute, Mendez slotted a pass to Paxton Pomykal in the box. Pomykal sent a cross in to the onrushing Rennicks, who tapped it in. Six minutes later, a nice exchange up the right wing ended with Rennicks delivering a ball to Mendez near the penalty spot where he one-timed it inside the near post.
Puerto Rico’s defenders made a handful acrobatic goal-line clearances to keep the U.S. lead from growing, but some nifty dribbling from Pomykal in the 27th minute gave the FC Dallas forward an opening to slot home the USA’s third goal. Luis Miguel Cosme pulled one back for Puerto Rico in the 33rd minute to narrow the scoreline to 3-1 at halftime.
The Americans continued to control the game and find the back of the net after the half. Akinola netted two close-range goals, one in the 49th minute and another with his head in the 69th minute. Rennicks secured his brace with a penalty kick goal in the 57ty minute.
Forward Ulysses Llanez made the most of his 23-minute substitute appearance, making a nice run and assisting Akinola’s second goal two minutes after entering the game, as well as netting a header of his own for the USA’s final goal in the 86th minute.
Defender Mark McKenzie, who played the full 90 minutes of the Philadelphia Union’s 3-1 playoff elimination debut to New York City FC Wednesday, joined the team in time to be part of the bench.
The U-20 USMNT continues its run with its second Group A match against the U.S. Virgin Islands Saturday at 6 p.m. (UDN and Concacaf GO).
|Trinidad & Tobago||1||1||0||0||3||3||2||1|
|St. Vincent and the Grenadines||1||0||1||0||0||2||3||-1|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||1||0||1||0||0||2||13||-11|
Goal Scoring Rundown: