The U.S. Under-17 men’s youth national team defeated Canada, 2-0, in the Concacaf U-17 Championship semifinals to advance to the final in Antigua, Guatemala on Friday night.
Forward Micah Burton scored free-kick goal to open the scoring in the 36th minute, while forward Keyrol Figueroa added an exclamation point with his seventh goal of the competition in the game’s final moments, tying him for the lead in the Golden Boot race.
The USA will face Mexico in the final on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; FS2, TUDN, ViX+), seeking its first confederation title at this level since 2011. Mexico defeated Panama, 5-0, in Friday’s other semifinal.
The U.S. was on the front foot from the opening whistle, firing off three close-range chances. Forward Paulo Rudisill’s initial attempt was too high from a few yards out, but it fell to forward Ezekiel Soto for another try. When Canada’s Chimere Omeze finally cleared it from the goal mouth, it fell to midfielder Chris Aquino near the penalty spot. His volley was deflected by goalkeeper Alexander O’Brien. In the fifth minute, the U.S. threatened again as Aquino and defender Oscar Verhoeven arrived to a cross from Rudisill at the same time, hitting it over the crossbar.
Rudisill and Verhoeven combined well on the left wing all night. A combination with Aquino on the left side saw Rudisill fire a shot just wide in the 11th and after winning the ball on the press in the 19th, he had another opportunity snuffed out by Canada defender Alessandro Biello.
The U.S. kept the ball in Canadian territory for the majority of the evening, outshooting Canada, 19-4, as the Maple Leafs failed to put a shot on goal. Despite the advantage, the U.S. wasn’t able to find its breakthrough until the 36th. After Burton was fouled 25 yards out, he lined up for the free kick and rocketed it to the top left corner for the opening goal.
The Americans pushed to build their lead after the break, boosted by several second-half substitutes. Forward Brian Romero made an instant impact after coming on, immediately putting in two good crosses for Rudisill, but neither of his bouncing headers found the back of the net. O’Brien leapt to make a save in the 60th and the other went over the crossbar in the 63rd minute.
Burton nearly bagged his brace nine minutes later. Midfielder Edwyn Mendoza sprung the Austin FC forward down the right wing on a long ball and he ripped a shot as he drove towards goal, but it rolled just wide of the left post. He fired off another dangerous free kick in the 76th minute from just outside the right side of the box, but it went just over the bar.
After searching all half for a second goal, the answer finally came in the game’s closing minutes from Figueroa, the USA’s leading scorer at the tournament. He finished off fellow substitute forward David Vazquez’s fourth assist of the competition.