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USA loses in final at CONCACAF Championship

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: January 28, 2018

Mexico’s women’s program struck another blow to the USA dominance in North America on Sunday with a historic result. 

The Mexico U20 Women’s National Team defeated USA 1-1 (4-2) in the CONCACAF U20 Championship. It was the first regional championship for Mexico, which defeated Canada in the semifinal on Friday. 

USA’s loss was not entirely unexpected as Mexico played USA close during the group stage game. USA came away with a 2-1 win in that game, but there were clearly cracks in the armor and Mexico looked capable of exploiting that in a rematch. 

The rematch on Sunday did not deliver the best showing from either team. The wet conditions made the early stages of the game difficult for either side to show much in terms of keeping possession of the ball. 

USA did look aggressive early on, and had a chance to take the lead within the first 10 minutes when Civana Kuhlmann fired a shot from 15 yards out that Mexico goalkeeper Emily Alvarado pushed away. The block eventually fell to Taryn Torres with an empty net ahead of her. However, Ashley Soto made a great block and kept USA off the scoreboard early in the game. 

Mexico’s Dayana Cazares notched the opening tally in the 33rd minute. The play started with a free kick in Mexico’s defensive half near the bench. The long delivery ended up with Cazares who touched it past her defender and then ripped a shot past Amanda McGlynn. It was the first time USA had trailed during the tournament. 

Mexico kept the lead into half time, but USA made some adjustments to the squad at the break. Ashley Sanchez and Tierna Davidson entered the game at the start of the second half and they made their presence immediately obvious.  

Davidson scored the equalizer within 10 minutes of entering the game. Kuhlmann was on the far post run after a long service. She headed the ball back toward the center of the six-yard box. Davidson headed the ball into the goal. 

The two teams played the rest of the 60 minutes with very few noteworthy spells. USA had a chance to win it late in regulation, but Alvarado denied Sophia Smith in the final seconds with a great save. 

Alvarado, who won the Golden Glove at the event, was at her best during the penalty kick shootout. She made two saves from the four kicks for the USA. Tierna Davidson and Isabel Rodriguez converted from the spot in the 4-2 loss in the shootout. 

Mexico lifted the title and took home the hardware as the Fair Play winners from the event. Defender Miriam Garcia was named the Golden Ball, best player, from the 2018 CONCACAF U20 Championship. Canada forward Jordyn Huitema finished as the Golden Boot winner with five goals from five games. 

USA players Kiara Pickett, Jaelin Howell, and Savannah DeMelo were named to CONCACAF’s All-Tournament Team. 

Both Mexico and USA had already qualified for the 2018 U20 World Cup in France after winning in the semifinal round on Friday. Earlier on Sunday, Haiti joined Mexico and USA as the qualifiers from CONCACAF. Haiti defeated Canada 1-0 to become the first Caribbean country to qualify for the U20 Women’s World Cup in another historic first from the competition.  

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