BRADENTON, Fla. — There were was no need for any comeback this time.
The U.S. Under-17 men’s national team struck four times in the first half en route to a 6-1 win over Barbados in its second Group F game of the Concacaf U-17 Championship Saturday.
The Americans advantaced to the knockout round as it remained on top of the group with six points from two matches, outscoring their foes, 9-3.
Twp first-half goals from Gianluca Busio tied him for the tournament lead with three goals and increased his tally to six in his last nine matches for club and country. The U.S. proved to be lethal on restarts, scoring six goals its two matches either directly from or through free kicks and corner kicks.
The U.S. closes out group play against Guatemala on Monday, May 6 at 6 p.m. ET. Fans can watch the match on Concacaf Facebook page and Univision Deportes Network.
The top three teams from each group qualify to the Round of 16. Four teams — Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico — advanced directly to the Round of 16 from a pre-tournament qualifying phase. The four tournament semifinalists earn berths to the U-17 World Cup.
U.S. U-17 head coach Raphael Wicky made seven changes to the group that earned a 3-2 comeback win against Canada in the tournament opener. The U-17s came out firing on all cylinders from the opening whistle, pinning Barbabos in its own end for virtually the entire first half and finishing with an 11-1 advantage in shots.
Set pieces were the name of the game, as team captain Kobe Hernandez got the U.S. on the board in the 20th minute with a skillful free kick, while Busio doubled the lead six minutes later. A short corner led to Adam Saldana’s first goal of the competition at the 33-minute mark, before another cleverly choreographed restart resulted in Busio’s second goal.
The second half read much like the first, with any of hopes of a Barbadian revival getting doused only two minutes in after an own goal off the foot of defender Ethan Bryan.
The U.S. added its final goal from the run of play when a pinpoint delivery from Hernandez and the deft touch of Ocampo Chavez led to the USA’s sixth of the match.
A penalty awarded to Barbados in the 53rd minute put the Bajan Tridents on the scoresheet, and a Nathan Skeete point-blank shot from the penalty spot could have added intrigue in the 63rd minute save for the quick reflexes of the U.S. goalkeeper Chituru Odunze. The 6-7 netminder was equal to the task and parried it over the crossbar as the United States remained firmly in control and finished out the contest still on the front foot.