The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team is all but certainly going to this fall’s World Cup, but first they’ll have to take care of business with a spot in the CONCACAF final on the line.
After dispatching Honduras on Wednesday by a 3-0 scoreline, the U.S. faces off with Cuba on Friday as they look to seal a spot in India. Even entering the match, the U.S. is essentially World Cup bound barring a historic collapse. A win, draw or a loss by four or fewer goals would be enough to get the job done while a win or draw would be enough to push the U.S. into the CONCACAF final and, potentially, a rematch against Mexico.
First up for the U.S., though, is Cuba, a team that was thumped, 7-1, by Honduras in their classification stage opener. In the initial group stage, Cuba edged a second place finish following a draw with Suriname, win over Canada and a loss to Costa Rica. Cuba has not qualified for a U-17 World Cup since 1991.
The U.S., who ran perfect through the initial group stage with three straight wins, kept the ball rolling on Wednesday in a major way. Josh Sargent fired his fourth and fifth goals of the tournament, putting him two behind Honduras’ Carlos Mejía for the tournament’s Golden Boot. The team’s other goal was scored by Ayo Akinola, who sits just behind Sargent with four goals of his own. Andrew Carleton, Blaine Ferri and George Acosta each have two assists on the tournament with each collecting one against Honduras.
On the defensive end, the U.S. has been rock-solid as well. In four matches, the U.S. has maintained three clean sheets with the lone goals coming in a rollercoaster 4-3 win over Mexico. A win or draw on Friday could seal a rematch if Mexico, who has already qualified for the World Cup, can get past Costa Rica.