BRADENTON, Fla. – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team secured its place at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup with a convincing 4-0 win over Costa Rica at the 2018 Concacaf Under-20 Championship Friday.
Alex Mendez connected a highlight-reel goal from distance early on and Ulysses Llanez, Juan Pablo Torres and Ayo Akinola closed out the scoring to give the Americans three points and guarantee a top-two finish in Group G of the qualification stage of the tournament. The USA will face Honduras next, needing a tie or win to advance to the title game.
Coached by former U.S. international Tab Ramos, USA again started on the front foot and took a lead early behind Mendez. Center back Mark McKenzie played a low ball down the center of the field to Mendez, who with his back to goal, spun to set up his favored left before ripping a blast from 30 yards into the upper left corner for his sixth goal of the tournament.
Ulysses Llanez doubled the lead five minutes later, running at the defense from the left side before tucking a shot between the goalkeeper and near post for his team-leading seventh goal in five games.
Juan Pablo Torres extended the lead on a second-effort goal just after the break, and Ayo Akinola’s flicked header secured the win and the USA’s 16 th appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be held in Poland in May-June 2019.
The USA has qualified for four straight FIFA Under-20 World Cups – all under the guidance of head coach Tab Ramos – and 11 of the past 12. With Honduras tying Costa Rica earlier in the week, the result leaves Costa Rica with one point in the Qualification Stage triangular, guaranteeing the USA a top two finish with the last group match on Monday against Honduras.
The U-20 USMNT will face Honduras on Monday, Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. ET at IMG Academy Stadium in Bradenton, Fla. The USA would advance to the title game with a draw or win over Honduras. The match can be seen live on UDN and theConcacafGo app.