In the opening match of the Classification Stage at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, a 29th minute header from Erik Palmer-Brown on a Brooks Lennon cross propelled the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team to a 1-0 victory over Mexico, ending their 20-match unbeaten streak at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
The victory now guarantees the U.S. a FIFA 2017 U-20 World Cup spot with a win or draw against El Salvador on Friday at 4:30 p.m. PT.
The lone goal for the U.S. was scored about a half-hour into the match when Lennon sent a picture perfect cross into the box. Palmer-Brown redirected the cross with power and it was nearly cleared off the line, but Mexico’s Diego Cortes could not react fast enough and his failed clearance deflected the ball into the net. The goal was the first allowed by Mexico in this year’s tournament who had previously shutout Canada, Honduras, and Antigua & Barcuda in the group stage.
The U.S. would never relinquish its lead or dominance after this. Mexico came out strong in the second half and the U.S. weathered the storm and controlled the pace of play again. Led by Palmer-Brown, Justen Glad, and Tommy Redding, the U.S. limited Mexico to a handful of opportunities and zero shots on goal.
Chances to extend the lead were there throughout the second half, but Mexico’s goalkeeper, Jose Hernandez, kept El Tri in the match. Glad’s header in the 63rd minute was saved. Coy Craft tried to cut the goalkeeper in the 84th minute, but was denied when Hernandez ran off his line, and Jonathan Lewis’ shot was saved in the 91st minute.
Up next for the U.S. is the waiting game. Mexico will face El Salvador on Wednesday with their U-20 World Cup chances on the line. If El Salvador is able to walk away with three points, Mexico will be eliminated and the U.S. will qualify for the 2017 U-17 World Cup regardless of their result against El Salvador on Friday. If Mexico is able to bounce back and draw or win, the U.S. would need to win or draw against El Salvador on Friday to qualify. Mexico vs. El Savador will kick off on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. PT.