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USMNT U-20’s shifting focus to Canada at Concacaf Championship

The U.S. Under-20 men’s national team enjoyed a strong start at the 2022 Concacaf Under-20 Championship on Saturday, but now the focus shifts to a tougher opponent in Canada on Monday.

Mikey Varas watched from the sidelines in Honduras as his team rolled past Saint Kitts and Nevis 10-0 in their tournament opener. A total of seven different players contributed goals on Saturday, as Cade Cowell, Caden Clark, and Mauricio Cuevas headlined strong performances from the Americans.

Now with a Monday night showdown against rivals Canada on the horizon, Varas and his players are focused on the job at hand.

“At the end of the day we can improve in every single area of the game,” Varas said after Saturday’s win. “Monday’s matchup is going to be a battle and right now what we’re doing is focusing on recovery, focusing on getting a very clear idea and strategy against Canada, and preparing the boys for a really important match.”

The Americans showed their quality for 90 minutes, constantly pressuring Saint Kitts and Nevis and finding different ways to wreak havoc in the final third. VAR awarded the Americans two penalty-kick opportunities, while the creativity and hunger of several attacking players truly made Saturday’s match a long afternoon for Saint Kitts.

Even after holding onto a 6-0 halftime lead, the USMNT U-20’s continued to dominate for the second half. Paxten Aaronson scored a brace in a three-minute span, Niko Tsakiris capped off his first international cap by adding his second goal of the match, and Quinn Sullivan added two assists as a substitute.

It was an all-around impressive day for the Americans, who made sure to use every minute of Saturday’s match to improve as a unit.

“I like that we took care of business, I liked that the boys entered the game with a clear identity of being brave, being relentless, and at the end of the day, playing against the opponent in front of them,” Varas said. “Saint Kitts gave an amazing effort and I thought our boys showed a lot of respect to the game and then by playing hard the entire time.”

“I felt that the group was really feeling it towards the end of the match and the goals kept coming for us,” Tsakiris said. “We have confidence in ourselves and I think that showed today and overall the group looked really strong. Everyone is excited for what’s next because we don’t have to wait a long time to get onto the field again.”

Canada’s U-20 national team suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Cuba on Saturday night, putting itself in a early hole in Group A with only two matches left to play. Led by Toronto FC II players Hugo Mbongue and Kobi Hamilton, Mauro Biello’s squad will provide a new test for the Americans on Monday night, especially with the added importance of the result for Canada to avoid elimination.

The USMNT U-20’s cruised in several areas against Saint Kitts and Nevis in its first competitive match under Varas, but is already expecting improvement to take another major step towards World Cup and Olympic Qualification.

“We just have to be focused all of the time on learning how to get over games quicker because now we have to focus on Canada,” Cuevas said. “We have to go and prepare for that, get our minds and bodies ready for that game.”

Comments

  1. Isn’t it strange that everyone gets so dramatic about qualifying for the Olympics or not, when when the U20 teams are not even designed to take the best players of that age group? Obviously if we wanted to ensure qualification we’d have Scally, Musah, and Reyna on the roster. If you fail to qualify because you have a lot of teenagers on your senior team, doesn’t that mean your future looks good, not bad?? It’s weird.
    All that said, this group looks great and I’ll bet they’ll get some great exposure and get our next crop of european league players moving.

    Reply
    • Hay Dave- I agree and… disagree. I’m not so sure that wanting, even expecting our youth teams to qualify is dramatic. It is a worthy, realistic desire. Our program is at a level and has enough depth off talent comparatively within the region where we OUGHT to qualify. Having young players already established at a top level club is definitely a good thing, but doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels and ignore those not there yet. The 18, 19, 20 year old players starting for Euro clubs are outliers. Olympic and u20 WC offer great opportunities for other developing players to gain valuable international tournament experience and showcase themselves to top clubs. Injuries and stalled careers happen, many rising stars falter. Top nations run a few players deep at every position playing for top flight clubs. Thats the target if we really want to legitimately compete for a World Cup some day. That would be nice in my lifetime!

      Reply
      • It’s usually far more difficult to qualify for YWCs and Olympics than it is for WC. Fewer spots and qualifying comes in knockout rounds instead of group play like the Hex or Octagon. Like in this tournament the US could face Honduras the home side in the quarterfinals. The US should be 4-0 with around a +20 GD going into the game but if they don’t finish their chances could find themselves out of U20 WC and Olympics.

      • And that match with Canada shows my point you can completely dominate the match and the other team takes their chances and then we’re in trouble. Luckily that was in the group stage. However, this backline looks sketchy.

  2. Toronto did not release Kosi Thompson and Jahkeele Marshall Rutty who both played for TFC over the weekend. Rutty has been injured so Canada may have passed not knowing how fit he’d be for a 20 man roster. Not sure how Concacaf came up with their rankings but Cuba was rated 7th to Canada’s 9th so maybe it wasn’t as shocking as most of us thought. US should win by multiple goals.

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  3. Hardly a shock loss for Canada. Outplayed badly in half one. Outshot 9-2 and should have been down by multiple goals. Cuba had made all subs and keeper got a red so 5 ft 6 forward had to play goal. 25 minutes and he was never tested and Cuba still had the more dangerous chances. Terrible Canada team.

    Reply
    • As I noted above Canada’s best U20s in MLS did not get released and I’m sure some of their Euro based kids didn’t either. Much like US this is going to be in issue for them going forward.

      Reply

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