The U.S. U-20 men’s youth national team put on a dominant display on Saturday as they came away with a big win over St. Kitts and Nevis to kick off their defense of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship title at the National Stadium in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Saturday.
One of the highlights of the game was the use of the video assistant referee, which will be available throughout the tournament. It would come into play a couple of times in the favor of the U.S.
That first instance would come 15 minutes into the contest when referee Ricardo Montero initially blew the whistle for a foul on the U.S. in St. Kitts’ end. However, VAR would overrule his decision and he would call it a penalty. Cade Cowell would step up to bury the spot-kick and his country the lead.
VAR gifted the Americans another penalty at the midway point of the game as officials went back to review a suspected handball by a St. Kitts defender. It was confirmed and Caden Clark this time took the opportunity, putting his shot past the hands of goalkeeper Xander Parks.
Tyler Wolff got on the scoresheet in the 43rd minute through some good build-up play. Alejandro Alvarado sent the ball over the top to Mauricio Cuevas on the right side. His low cross to the center caused some confusion among the St. Kitts defense and Wolff would be on the spot to tap the ball in from close range.
The U.S. bagged a fourth in the 45th minute through Rokas Pukstas as he headed in a loose ball from a corner kick. Cuevas and Niko Tsakiris added two more in first-half stoppage time.
There was no let-up from head coach Mikey Varas’ team as they entered the second half.
It would be an unfortunate moment for Parks as he was credited with an own goal in the 47th minute to give the U.S. their seventh goal on the day. A corner kick would come directly into the path of the goalkeeper. However, under pressure from Markus Ferkranus, who heading towards the center area to meet the ball, Parks attempted to punch it away only for the ball to end up in the goal.
Paxten Aaronson then made his presence known as he scored twice within a three-minute span. The first came in the 64th minute when a through-ball was played to Quinn Sullivan who then laid it off for the Philadelphia Union youngster to fire home. He grabbed his second in the 67th minute when Diego Luna sent the ball to him from midfield, allowing him to slot his shot past Parks.
Tsakiris scored his second on the day in the 69th minute to finish things off as he tapped in a low cross from Sullivan.
The win puts the U.S atop the standings in Group E with a very healthy goal margin.
The team will next prepare for their clash with Canada on Monday.