For the first time ever, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team earned the title of CONCACAF’s best.
The U.S. U-20s toppled Honduras, 5-4, in penalty kicks following a scoreless draw, winning Sunday’s CONCACAF U-20 Championship final. The win is the first U-20 championship in U.S. Soccer history.
Following a physical 90 minutes, the U.S. made all five of their penalty kicks with Brooks Lennon starting the run. Coy Craft, Emmaniel Sabbi and Luca de La Torres soon followed before Honduras finally slipped up as Rembrandt Flores skied his shot over the bar. Danny Acosta buried his shot from the spot, sealing the championship for the U.S.
The game was not without its losses for the U.S., who saw two stars leave the match due to injury while another was forced to play on through a leg issue. Midfielder Eryk Williamson was the first to depart with a hamstring injury in the 26th minute. Then, just moments in the second half, Justen Glad was removed after taking a shot to the knee late in the first half. Out of substitutes late in the match, captain Erik Palmer-Brown suffered a knee injury of his own but was forced to play on due to the lack of available reinforcements.
Although the first half was a bit quiet, the U.S. had the better of the chances. The best came via set pieces, one of which saw a corner kick pushed up and over the bar. Moments later, Brooks Lennon’s free kick was parried away by the Honduras goalkeeper.
As the game wore on, though, Honduras began to find a groove. After initially relying on the counter for a majority of their attacking push, Honduras began to turn up the pressure, causing several U.S. mistakes. Erik Palmer-Brown helped quell several fires as Honduras created chances as the second half wore on.
They would fail to break through, though, as the match moved to penalty kicks. The U.S. proved flawless, smashing all five of their spot kicks to seal the win.
The U.S. now looks towards this summer’s World Cup, which is set to begin May 20 in South Korea.