Even if it seemed like a foregone conclusion before the evening began, the ensuing celebration was no less sweet. After five enormous performances, the U.S. is headed to the U17 World Cup.
Thanks to a three-goal onslaught in the first half, the U.S. weathered a couple Cuban goals to take a score-bound 6-2 win over Cuba in its penultimate match at the U17 CONCACAF Championship in Panama City. The U.S. has been more or less a scoring machine in this tournament, only pausing briefly in a physical skirmish with El Salvador on its way to piledriving CONCACAF. And after its expectedly emphatic win over Cuba on Friday, the U.S. has officially clinched its 16th trip to the U17 World Cup in 17 tournaments.
Most notably, the ghosts that haunted the U.S. in the 2013 and 2015 U17 CONCACAF tournaments appear to be completely gone. The U.S. deserves this.
Thanks to goals from starters Andrew Carleton and Indiana Vassilev, in addition to tallies from subs Zyen Jones, BRyan Reynolds and Timothy Weah (and thanks to the help of a Cuba own goal that put the U.S. up for good 2-1 in the first half), the U.S. marched past Cuba and into the final match. Against a familiar foe. But we’ll get to all that below, in my three big things we learned from Friday’s demolition.