The United States entered the Concacaf Under-20 Championship with a lot of pressure because the tournament served as qualification for the 2023 U-20 World Cup in Indonesia and the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The team came in with high expectations after their senior counterparts secured World Cup qualification. Lo and behold, they’ve lived up it by reaching the final against the Dominican Republic on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, which means tickets to the 2023 U-20 World Cup and 2024 Olympics have been officially secured.
Both finalists get to go to the Summer Games, but for the United States, this will be their first appearance since 2008. It maded it even sweeter that they clinched their berth via a 3-0 victory over a Honduras team that ended the United States’ chances at qualification in the previous two cycles.
With the tournament taking place in Honduras, the United States fought past the home crowd thanks to goals from Paxten Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Alejandro Alvarado Jr. (FC Vizela) and Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union). All three goals came before halftime, which allowed the team to cruise to victory. Alvarado Jr. became the 12th different player on the team to score in the tournament while Sullivan took the lead in the golden boot race with six goals to go along with four assists.
“I want to make it very clear that this is a huge team effort. The support staff, technical staff, everyone. I said it from Day q, I’m not good enough to do it by myself and everyone stepped up,” U.S. U-20 men’s youth national team head coach Mikey Varas said after the match. “The most important actors in this whole story were the players and the way they stepped up and confronted this moment in front of these fans, I can’t be more proud of them.”
It’s important to note that the players who took part in this tournament may not be the ones to feature in the Olympics and that’s because the Paris Games require players under the age of 23, with the exception of a few overage players on the roster. That doesn’t diminish the accomplishment with U.S. Soccer looking to march forward with a bright future with each passing day as the federation is only four years away from hosting the World Cup. Next up is bringing home the U-20 Championship and then keeping the momentum built during the tournament with their clubs for the remainder of the season.