The United States U-17 soccer team took a step closer to qualifying for October’s U-17 World Cup on Wednesday night, defeating their Mexican rivals 4-3. With the win, the US secured their passage through the first group stage with one game remaining. After Saturday’s game against El Salvador, the US will move onto a group of three teams, with the top two teams from that group qualifying for the World Cup, which will take place in India.
After scoring the winning goal in the opening game against Jamaica, D.C. United’s Chris Durkin once again played 90 minutes for the US. Durkin played as the deepest midfielder for John Hackworth’s side, dropping even deeper to help the defense out in the late stages of the game.
Before tonight’s game, the US had never beaten Mexico in a competitive U-17 game, with just one draw from five previous meetings. And proceedings didn’t look good early on, as Mexico took the lead in the 6th minute through Roberto De La Rosa. But the US responded well after the early wound, and Josh Sargent scored twice in the first half, providing a highlight reel effort with his first goal.
Mexico equalized just before the end of the first half though, with De La Rosa netting his second of the game with a well placed header in the 44th minute.
But the US, who enjoyed good spells during the first half, weren’t deterred by De La Rosa’s second goal. The US played well to start the second half, and took the lead once again through Blaine Ferri, who lashed a low shot home from outside the box in the 51st minute.
Durkin had to be attended to in the 60th minute, after he took an elbow on a jump ball from Alexis Gutierrez. Gutierrez earned a yellow card, and after being tended too for a minute, Durkin rejoined the action immediately after making it to the sideline.
The US had a couple of chances to add to their lead, but final made Mexico pay for pushing numbers forward in the 78th minute. After collecting a pass in midfield, Sargent made his way towards goal in a three on one break, and played out wide to Ayo Akinola in the box. Akinola, part of the Toronto FC academy, one timed a shot that ended up being the winning goal.
Mexico made things close in the first minute of stoppage time, as right back Jaylin Lindsey accidentally turned a cross into his own goal. That was it though from Mexico, and the win propelled the US on to the next round.
To top their group, and play against the runner-ups of Group A and B in the next round, the US need just one point in Saturday’s game against El Salvador. El Salvador, who lost 6-0 to Mexico in their first game, lost 3-1 to Jamaica on Wednesday, eliminating them from the tournament. The goal from El Salvador came from Ronald Cerritos, who is part of D.C. United’s academy and son of former United striker Ronald Cerritos.