The CONCACAF Under-20 Men’s Championship got under way last weekend and after the first preliminary games Jamaica, U. S. and Mexico won their openers. The 12-team tournament, with four groups of three teams, is taking place in Puebla, Mexico and will qualify the top four teams for the 2013 FIFA Youth World Cup in Turkey this June and July. The tournament started on Monday, Feb. 18 and plays through Monday, March 3.
Jamaica’s junior Reggae Boyz kicked off the tournament with an emphatic 4-1 win against Puerto Rico in a Group C match last Tuesday, Feb 19. Kendan Anderson came off the bench to score two second half goals to steer Jamaica to victory. Omar Holness scored Jamaica’s first goal in the eighth minute, but Reid Strain equalized 14 minutes after to level the score at halftime.
The junior Reggae Boyz took the lead again in the 61st minute through Damion Lowe, son of former Jamaican international Onandi Lowe, then Anderson capped the day; Jamaica dominated the match throughout and next plays Panama.
U. S. vs. Haiti
The U.S. found itself in a battle versus Haiti on the opening day of the tournament as it managed a 2-1 win over the Haitians. Luis Gil scored in the 3rd minute from the penalty spot after Daniel Cuevas was fouled in the area, and taken down in the box. Cuevas later scored the U.S. second goal for a 2-0 halftime lead.
Haiti really was the better team in the second half; trailing by two goals, the Haitians’s were determined to save the game. The continued to attack the U.S. and created several opportunities using their skill and speed. Wilberne Augusmat pulled a goal back for Haiti in the 49th minute to make it 2-1, but time ran out the Haitians. Costa Rica is the other team in this Group A.
Mexico vs. Curacao
At the same venue later that day, Mexico defeated Curacao, 3-0, in the teams’ Group D opener. The hosts dominated the game from the start and by the 20th minute, Jesus Corona put Mexico ahead, 1-0; he struck again in the 34th minute. Jose Bueno gave Mexico a comfortable 3-0 lead just before half time sand that was all Mexico needed.
Curacao was a very determined team, but it lacked defensive organization; too many unmarked Mexicans roamed freely in midfield and in the offensive third, which revealed a lacking of marking ability. Curacao’s goal keeper Zeus de la Paz is an exceptional player and his teammates showed a lot of determination despite Mexico’s domination. Curacao created a few chances of their own and in doing o showed the potential to be a good tem in the near future. Curacao next plays El Salvador.
Cuba vs. Canada
Cuba got two second half goals from Maykel Reyes to defeat Canada 2-1 in the teams’ Group B opener last Monday. After a goalless first half in which Canada was the better team, Cuba turned the tide in the second half and was rewarded with a win. In the 69th minute, Reyes beat Canada’s defense with his speed down the right side to score a low hard shot at the far post past the outstretched arms of Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. Reyes scored Cuba’s second goal off a corner kick. Stefan Vukovic scored for Canada near the end.
Joseph in Seattle
Grenadian international Shalrie Joseph, a 10-year veteran of the MLS and a seven-time MLS All-Star selection was traded to the Seattle Sounders from Chivas USA. Joseph played most of his career with the New England Revolution, the team he helped steer to three MLS Cup finals. Chivas got draft picks in the 2014 and 2015 drafts and the team also moved up in the selection process. U. S. forward Landon Donovan is set to return to the Los Angeles Galaxy in March after saying that he was unsure if he will continue to play. Nigeria won the African Nations Cup recently, defeating Burkina Faso, 1-0.