[CONCACAF UNDER-17 CHAMPIONSHIP] The USA held off Cuba for a 3-1 win Monday in their opening Group B game at the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Alfred Koroma, who returned to the U-17 residency program after a year off, had the lone goal in the second half. Andrew Oliver added a goal and an assist, and Esteban Rodriguez scored the third goal.
Cuba had its chances, however. Klanze Froese hit the crossbar late in the first half, and after Dairon Perez cut the deficit to 3-1 in the 69th minute, U.S. goalie Fernando Pina was called up to stop Javier Aguilar on a breakaway.
“We did not play our best game tonight but we were able to win and that’s important in this tournament,” said U.S. coach Wilmer Cabrera. “We have to improve ourselves because we did not play a complete game, but hopefully it will be a good lesson for the kids to understand that we have to play our best in every game if we want to go to the World Cup. The most important thing for us is to take care of ourselves first and make sure that we get better and show a better quality to our game.”
The USA is now off until Friday when it faces Panama at Jarrett Park.
In Monday's other game, Costa Rica beat Haiti, 3-1, in the Group A opener.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the quarterfinals with berths at the 2011 U-17 World Cup in Mexico on the line.
Feb. 14 in Montego Bay
USA 3 Cuba 1. Goals: Koroma 27, Oliver 46, E.Rodriguez 50; Lopez 68.
USA -- Pina, Smith, Souders, Fehr, Acosta, E.Rodriguez, Dunn, Serna (Allen, 72), Oliver, M.Rodriguez (McBean, 73), Koroma (Salkicic, 76).
Cuba -- Sanchez, Labrada, Diz, Rosales, Froese, Collado, Perez (Capote, 71), Herrera (Lopez, 60), Piedra, Aguilar, Mezquia.
Yellow Cards: USA -- Salkicic 81; Cuba -- Labrada 35, Froese 78.
Referee: Enrico Winjgaarde (Surinam)