The United States U-17 Men’s National Team is one step away from the World Cup in Peru later this year, after smashing the Dominican Republic in the Round of 16 of the CONCACAF Championship, with Liverpool’s Keyrol Figueroa netting two of the team’s seven goals.
Having made easy work of their three group-stage opponents by a combined 8-1 goal margin, the U-17 squad from head coach Gonzalo Segares had an even easier time with the Dominicans, who directly entered the Round of 16 by way of their finish in last year’s qualifying pre-tournament.
The Americans outshot their opponents by an eye-popping 26-5 margin, while holding more than 60% of possession and completing just over 90% of their 365 passing attempts.
Still, it took the team until nearly the midway point of the first half to open the scoring, after Taha Habroune found Seattle Sounders youth player Christopher Aquino all alone at the top of the area, for a pinpointed left-footed shot to the upper right corner.
Aquino completed his brace shortly before the half-hour mark; after being tripped up on his way into the area, he coolly slotted his spot kick to the lower right corner, sending Dominican keeper Edwin Frías diving in the opposite direction.
Liverpool academy player Keyrol Figueroa gave the Yanks the unassailable three-goal lead deep into first-half added-time, first hitting the post before Paolo Rudisill maintained possession, and set him up at the edge of the six-yard box for a successful second attempt.
Figueroa added his second of the game in the 57th minute, this time with Rudisill hitting him at the spot for an easy finish, also bringing his overall scoring total in the tournament to four goals.
Two minutes past the hour, Austin FC academy player Micah Burton netted the Americans’ fifth, leaping at the far post to smack in Rudisill’s cross from the opposite side of the area.
Shortly following the 5-0, Segares opted to give several of his starters an early exit with an eye towards Tuesday’s quarterfinal, first replacing Figueroa with Ezekiel Soto as a part of a double-switch that also saw Barcelona academy member Adrián Gill enter the fray, then pulling UE Cornellà-based midfielder Pedro Soma in favor of San Jose youngster Edwyn Mendoza.
The introduction of Soto only added more pain to the already beaten Dominicans, as he was perfectly positioned at the right post to tap in Gill’s cross from the same side in the 84th minute, then scored the seventh and final goal at the end of regulation, heading in Brian Romero‘s cross from the right flank.
The team has one final step before they qualify for the final tournament in Peru later this year, namely Tuesday’s quarterfinal match against Guatemala. Los Chapines narrowly beat Jamaica in their Round of 16 game on Saturday evening, and are looking to qualify for the first time to the U-17 World Cup.