Paxten Aaronson led the way for the U-20 USMYNT national team as he scored goals in both halves to see them through their CONCACAF U-20 Championship quarterfinal encounter with Costa Rica on Tuesday to book their spot in the U-20 FIFA World Cup.
Costa Rica started the game aggressively, but they would find themselves down a goal just five minutes in when the Americans started a counter-attack. Alejandro Alvarado Jr. played the ball to Quinn Sullivan on the right side, who then crossed to Aaronson to fire a powerful shot past goalkeeper Bayron Mora.
Los Ticos would not wait to let the early deficit hold them back as they went back the other way a minute later when Santiago Van Der Putten put a long-range effort on target. However, U.S. goalkeeper Chris Brady would make the save.
The U.S. had an excellent chance to double their lead before the half-hour mark when they went on another counter-attack. Diego played a through-ball to Aaronson which allowed him to charge into Costa Rica’s end. The young Philadelphia Union man then layed the ball off for Sullivan to score, but Mora would parry the ball away for a corner kick.
Sullivan would be denied again a few minutes later when recovered the ball from a Brandan Craig free kick to add to the U.S. tally only for Mora to keep it out.
The young Americans finally got the decisive goal in the 49th minute of play as Aaronson was on the spot again. Luna once again started the play as he sent the ball to Michael Halliday. His cross from the right side found Caden Clark at the far post on the left, who headed back towards the center of the area. Alvarado Jr. then feigned a shot which left Aaronson to follow up and blast his shot into the back of the net.
Costa Rica had a chance to cut the deficit in the 52nd minute when the referee blew his whistle for a penalty following a handball. However, Brandon Aguilera sent his spot-kick over the bar to presevere the U.S. shutout.
Los Ticos tried to make it a game, but could not find the goals as the U.S. progressed to the semifinals of the tournament.
Up next is a clash with fellow U-20 World Cup qualifiers Honduras and a chance to qualify for another tournament, the 2024 Olympics in Paris.