Last August, the U.S. U-17 boys lost in Mexico City, 6-3, to Mexico in the 2016 Torneo de Naciones after a being tied, 2-2, until the 55th minute mark.
“As a team, we said, we’re not going to let this happen again,” said midfielder Blaine Ferri, who scored the USA’s third goal in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Mexico at the Concacaf U-17 World Cup qualifying tournament in Panama. “And it’s a great feeling that we came out and we did it and actually won the game. We came out with more intensity.”
Ferri scored with a low 22-yard shot in the 51st minute to break a 2-2 tie. Mexico had taken an early lead, captain Josh Sargent scored twice to put the USA up 2-1, but the Mexicans equalized the game shortly before halftime
“It feels great,” said U.S. coach John Hackworth. “The guys really put together a solid game. Tough going down a goal. A great response by our team to continue to play the way we wanted to play. And then go up, and give up the second one right before halftime was a little tough. But in the locker room the guys had a good resolve and felt good about coming out in the second half, executing again, so I’m really just proud of those boys. They’ve worked hard. We’ve worked smart."
Sargent, who scored and assisted in the USA’s opening game, a 5-0 win over Jamaica, scored his first after receiving a high pass from Ferri and beating defender Carlos Robles by flicking the ball onto his head and down for the shot. He finished his own rebound in the 40th minute for his third goal of tournament.
“I’m just glad that we could get some revenge on them,” said Sargent, a Scott Gallagher Missouri product. “We played them back in August and they had a good go at us. They got an early goal on us but fortunately I was able to put two in the back of the net. It was a huge relief for us. At the end of the game, now that we won, everyone can take a deep breath and it’s a great feeling.
“It was a great team effort and it was good game. It puts us in a great spot and we look forward to the next game, one game at a time.”
The USA, already assured of finishing first in Group C, faces winless El Salvador on Saturday. It advances to a three-team second-round group from which the top two finishers will qualify for the 2017 U-17 World Cup in India.
Mexico, which had beaten El Salvador, 6-0, got its third goal with a Jaylin Lindsey own goal, one minute into stoppage time. But by then, Ayo Akinola, who had scored twice against Jamaica, had scored the vital insurance goal with a crisp finish after George Acosta combined with Sargent for the setup.
Mexico is the two-time defending U-17 Concacaf champion and in the last three U-17 World Cups, finished fourth (2015), second (2013) and first (2011). Its semifinal loss in 2015 and its final loss in 2013 both came against Nigeria, winner of three of the last five U-17 World Cups.
The USA’s win on Wednesday marked its first ever over Mexico in U-17 World Cup qualifying and ended Mexico’s 25-game unbeaten streak in Concacaf U-17 Championship play.
“This was a huge game in a lot of ways,” said Hackworth. “It’s great feeling.”
April 26 in Panama City
USA 4 Mexico 3.
Goals: Sargent (Ferri) 26, Sargent 40, Ferri (Carleton) 51, Akinola (Sargent) 78; de la Rosa (Perez) 6, de la Rosa (Lopez) 44, Lindsey (own goal) 92+.
USA — Garces; Gloster (Watts, 46), Vasquez, Sands, Lindsey; Ferri, Durkin, Goslin (Acosta, 80); Carleton (Weah, 75), Sargent, Akinola.
Mexico — Lopez; Vazquez, Robles, Olivas, Sandoval; Gamiz, Gutierrez (Guerrero, 78), Perez (Huerta, 60); Torres, Lopez (Alvarado, 71), De La Rosa.
Referee: Jose Kellys (Panama).
Stats Summary: USA/Mexico
Shots on target: 6/3
Corner Kicks: 2/5
Yellow cards — Mexico (Gutierrez) 60.
USA-Mexico full game: