Upon his return from the Concacaf U-17 Championship, D.C. United youngster Griffin Yow was given an extended run out during last week’s friendly against Spanish side Real Betis. Coming on as a substitute in the first half, the homegrown player was greeted with a loud reception from the crowd at Audi Field. The youngster then capped off his performance with a goal in the second half against Betis, providing a moment to remember for the 16-year-old.
That goal and appearance marked the end of a busy month for Yow, who made a cameo appearance for United to make his MLS debut on April 21st. Yow then went and scored four goals as the US finished second at the Concacaf tournament, qualifying for this year’s U-17 World Cup in Brazil. Now, Yow will have a couple of months to get time with D.C. or Loudoun United to continue to grow his game before the World Cup.
“Being able to score on that stage, get man of the match, contribute, showed that I’m able to play at this level,” Yow told B&RU on Thursday, after practicing with D.C. United, about his performance against Betis. “It was huge for me at a confidence standpoint.”
With the US at the Concacaf U-17 Championship, Yow was able to hit the ground running under new head coach, Raphaël Wicky. Yow’s four goals were tied for third best on the team, with his final tally giving the US an early lead over eventual champions Mexico in the final.
That goal scoring run continued his previous form with the U-17 team, where Yow made and impact last year at the Nike Friendlies, before being part of camps twice earlier this year.
“It was a great experience to get to know the new coach, Rafa,” Yow said of the tournament. “It was the first time we got to be together for a long time. We didn’t get the result we wanted in the finals, but overall, it was a great tournament.”
The format of the tournament was rather forgiving, with three teams from each group of four advancing to the Round of 16. But in their first game, the US found themselves down two goals early to Canada.
It was a bit of a wake-up call for the Americans, who eventually scored three times in the second half to grab a 3-2 win. That performance helped settle the side down, as the US would then go on to only concede one more goal in the tournament before the final against Mexico.
“Going down 2-0 gave us a kick in our ass, and was like hey, ‘you guys aren’t as good as you think you are,’” said Yow. “Having that as our first game was huge. We built on it, and the next four or five games, we killed teams.”
That run ended in the final though, when the US faced off against Mexico, who always stands in between the US and domination of the Concacaf region at every level. Yow scored in the 9th minute of the final, but Mexico had their equalizer in the 17th minute. Whereas other teams in the region might get discouraged from a deficit, that definitely wasn’t the case with Mexico, who would go on to win with a goal in extra time.
“The one thing they had - usually when we would go up on a team, they would put their heads down, say oh the game is over,” said Yow. “But for Mexico, we scored, and then they were on us in 30 seconds. They had opportunity after opportunity. We were on our heels.”
Now for Yow, the goal between now and the U-17 World Cup is to continue to get minutes on the field, whether that’s for D.C. or Loudoun. The Black-and-Red are about to take a break for the Gold Cup, but a US Open Cup game, and USL games might give the winger a chance to continue to get pivotal playing time.
And though the youngster has plenty of growing still to do as a player, he’s continuously impressing his teammates. Paul Arriola, who plays in a similar style as Yow, and who is about to go to the Gold Cup with the US, sees a lot of similarities between himself and Yow.
“I see a lot of myself in him. I always tell him, I want him to take my spot,” Arriold told B&RU. “From what we’ve seen of him, he’s an impactful player. When he gets onto the field, somehow things happen.”
“I tell him to ride the wave, enjoy it, and he’ll get his chance, and when he gets his chance, he’ll be ready.”