The U.S. Under-17 men’s youth national team fell to Mexico, 3-1, in the Concacaf U-17 Championship final in Antigua, Guatemala on Sunday night.
A goal from Pedro Soma and several dangerous chances down the stretch were not enough to match a pair of penalty kicks from Mexico. After clinching its berth to the FIFA U-17 World Cup with a win against Guatemala in the tournament quarterfinals, the USA will shift its focus to preparations for November’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.
The game got off to a fiery start as Mexico brought immediate some pressure in the attack, as midfielder Isaac Martinez’s first shot went well over the crossbar in the first minute. In the eighth minute, the USA strung together a good run of play near the top of the penalty area that ended with an attempt from forward Keyrol Figueroa that was blocked. In the ensuing counter from Mexico, midfielder Brandon Lomelí was brought down inside the USA box as goalkeeper Duran Ferree attempted to snuff out the dangerous attack. That resulted in a penalty kick converted by forward Stephano Carrillo to open the scoring in the 10th minute
The USA regained control of the match as the half wore on, especially toward the later stages of the opening frame as the team’s best chance for an equalizer came off a strike from midfielder Cruz Medina at the top of the box that forced a stretched out save from goalkeeper Norberto Bedolla in the 41st minute.
The Americans endured more pressing play at the start of the second, avoiding trouble early as Mexico skied a chance from close range in the half’s opening minutes. Ferree came up with a big save in the 51st minute to deny a breakaway from José Urías as he received a ball over the top. The following corner kick, however, resulted in Mexico’s second goal when defender Luis Navarrete finished it with a header.
The USA continued to apply pressure in the attacking third. Reinvigorated by three substitutions in the 63rd minute, the USA continued to test El Tri’s defense with a refreshed attacking corps.
On the back of three consecutive promising chances, the USA narrowed the deficit in the 69th after Soma buried a header off a corner kick from substitute midfielder Chris Aquino to score his first goal of the tournament. The U.S. continued to threaten with numerous dangerous chances, but despite putting six shots on target in the second half, it was not meant the Americans’ night.
The U.S. went down to 10 men in the 89th minute after Ferree was shown a second yellow card following a foul inside the box. With the USA having already made all five of its allowed substitutions, defender Stuart Hawkins put on the goalkeeper gloves and stepped into goal for the remainder of the match, but Martínez buried the resulting penalty kick to secure the win for Mexico.