USA crush Aruba to keep CONCACAF U-20 Championship hopes alive

The United States men’s national team Under-20 squad won the match it had to, overpowering outclassed Aruba Wednesday night in the National Stadium at Kingston, Jamaica, 8-0.

The Americans had disappointed in their first two games of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, held to a draw by Guatemala and beaten by Panama, but they showed some of their potential against a team that had lost its first two matches by a 9-1 aggregate and did not figure to provide a stern test.

The victory kept alive American hopes for a top three finish and qualification for the FIFA Youth World Cup in New Zealand starting this May. However, the United States will need to produce its best form against host Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in their final group games to keep those hopes intact.

Only the group winners qualify directly for New Zealand with the second and third place finishers from each group engaged in sudden-death matches for the remaining two CONCACAF places in the FIFA event.

Earlier Wednesday, Guatemala moved to the top of Group A with a 2-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago. Mauro Portillo’s 88th-minute goal clinched it for the Central Americans after a Martieon Watson own goal had opened the scoring in the 25th minute. Unbeaten Panama face Jamaica in the night game with a chance to regain the Group A lead.

The Americans have four points after three matches leaving them behind Panama and Guatemala and level with Trinidad & Tobago on points. A Jamaica win over Panama would boost the hosts onto the same point total, but Wednesday’s goal-feast did a favor for the Americans as goal-difference could ultimately be important in deciding the top three spots.

The USA started on the front foot Wednesday evening but it took 16 minutes to open the account as they wasted early chances before Romain Gall profited from excellent work on the right by Tommy Thompson, who set up Bradford Jamieson IV to make the final pass. It was Jamieson IV who got on the board two minutes later with the final touch after a corner was headed off the crossbar and fell into a ruck of players in the six-yard box.

That started an avalanche which finished the game as a contest in just 30 minutes. It was 3-0 when Jean Van der Linden brought down Tyler Turner to concede a penalty which Gall drove home sweetly as Tab Ramos’ team asserted its superiority. Thompson emphasized that in the 27th minute when he beat the advancing keeper to a corner kick and headed into an empty net.

Emerson Hyndman made it 5-0 on the half hour mark after he stepped past a defender on the 18 yard line and then finished smartly as he entered the box, while Gall reached his hat trick just two minutes later. He had an empty-net finish after beating the keeper and the defense’s poor offside trap attempt to collect a through ball.

Jamieson IV needed just three minutes to get his second and the after the interval, firing home from the right but the Americans had clearly taken their foot off the gas. Armando Moreno finally nabbed an eighth American goal six minutes from the end when he tucked in a rebound after Jamieson IV’s shot could only be parried.

Group B play resumes Thursday with leaders Mexico facing Honduras (live, FOX Sport 2, 5:30 p.m. ET) after El Salvador meets Canada. Haiti vs. Cuba concludes the program in Montego Bay. The United States returns to action Sunday night against Jamaica (live, FOX Sports 2, 8 p.m. ET) and will finish group play against Trinidad & Tobago next Wednesday.