The United States Under-17 national team earned a spot in the 2019 U-17 World Cup with a 3-0 win over Panama in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship. It is their third consecutive World Cup qualification and 17th since the tournament’s founding in 1985.
The USMNT opened the scoring in the 54th minute. Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez played Gianluca Busio in on goal, and the Sporting Kansas City wunderkind finished the sequence:
This is Busio's 5th goal of the tourney in 4 appearances! pic.twitter.com/PdXFz2TfAr— U.S. Soccer YNT (@USYNT) May 12, 2019
In the 59th minute, Ocampo-Chavez was fouled in the box. Giovanni Reyna doubled the lead from the penalty spot:
This is Reyna's 5th goal of the tourney as he is up for Silver Boot contention!⚽ pic.twitter.com/RjDR3Vz4mE— U.S. Soccer YNT (@USYNT) May 12, 2019
Ricardo Pepi scored the insurance goal in the 75th minute, his first of the tournament. He was assisted by Daniel Leyva.
TopDrawerSoccer youth soccer expert J.R. Eskilson was very complimentary of the team’s performance and its manager:
The U.S. was organized, disciplined and played intelligent soccer. If this is any indication of head coach Raphael Wicky’s ability, there is reason to be optimistic about this group on the international stage. They’ve been increasingly better with every game at this competition as he has spent more time instilling his style.
The U-17s advance to the tournament semifinals where they’ll face Canada on Tuesday, May 14th. In the group stage, the U.S. prevailed, 3-2, in a tight match with their northern neighbors.
The final is scheduled for Thursday, May 16th. The U.S. has not won the tournament since 2011, with Mexico claiming the last three titles.
Busio and Reyna are chasing the Silver Boot, with both having scored five goals apiece. The current leader, Costa Rica’s Geancarlo Castro, has seven, but his team was eliminated by Canada.
The 2019 U-17 World Cup will be held this fall in Brazil. Peru was the original intended host nation, but FIFA announced the change after finding a “number of organizational and infrastructure challenges linked to the event delivery.”