SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – With its 2024 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup berth secured following a semifinal win, the U.S. U-20 Women’s Youth National Team fell 2-1 to Mexico in the title game of the Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship.
The U.S. controlled the majority of possession and had the better scoring chances, but the young Americans lacked quality in the final third against a battling Mexican team, which scored an 88th-minute deciding goal.
The USA also missed a penalty kick in the second half before giving up a goal against the run of play on transition in the 71st minute, but forward Onyeka Gamero tied the game in the 80th minute and it was seemingly headed to overtime before Mexico bagged a winner in 88th minute. Six minutes of stoppage time was not enough for the USA to create an equalizer despite several solid opportunities.
The USA outshot Mexico 14-9, but put just four shots on goal. Mexico put three shots on goal but scored on two of them.
The first half was a physical battle with both teams clearly fatigued while playing their fifth game in a span of a week and a half in temperatures that hit the high 80s, but neither side really threatened the goal. Mexico had a dangerous chance in the eighth minute when forward Tatiana Flores broke in on goal, but a masterclass in tracking back by defender Elise Evans saw her recover to deny the danger.
The USA’s best chance of the half came in the 38th minute as Gamero received the ball outside the box on the right, took a touch and fired low with her left foot, sneaking the shot between a defender’s legs but it ultimately went just inches of the left post.
The second half was much more action-packed with Mexico playing a very direct style, smashing the ball up the field in attempt to catch the USA in transition, and it was a strategy that eventually resulted in two goals despite most of the game being played mostly in Mexico’s defensive half. The U.S. had a golden chance to open the scoring in the 54th minute after forward Ally Sentnor was fouled down inside the box, resulting in a penalty kick. Defender Tessa Dellarose took the kick but saw her well-struck shot met with a good diving save from goalkeeper Itzel Velasco to keep things level. It was the USA’s second saved PK of the tournament.
The match grew more physical as the half dragged on with three yellow cards shown in as many minutes and then Mexico got the opening goal in the 71st minute. Forward Tatiana Flores combined with forward Mailin Orozco, who got inside the USA’s penalty area box and finished with a poke low into the right side of goal.
The U.S. was relentless thereafter, pressing hard while searching for an equalizer until the team’s effort paid off in the 80th minute. Sentnor unlocked Gamero with a great first-touch pass that ended with her dribbling into the penalty area from the left wing and firing a hard shot into the roof of the goal at the near post to equalize.
Mexico regained the lead in the 88th minute. A shot from outside the penalty area ricocheted off a defender and straight into the path of midfielder Fatima Servin as she crashed the goal. She was able to get a foot on the ball and finish through the legs of U.S. goalkeeper Teagan Wy from seven yards out. The USA fought hard in the final moments, nearly equalizing again as substitute forward Jordyn Dudley got a shot on target just ahead of the penalty spot, but Velasco made an initial save and stretched out to recover the slow-rolling spill.
Canada earned Concacaf’s third and final berth to the U-20 World Cup with a 5-3 win over Costa Rica in extratime in the third-place match. The USA, Mexico and Canada will wait for FIFA to name a host and the dates for the 2024 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.