Concacaf Under-20 Championship: Mendez and Pomykal pull strings in easy U.S. win

The USA opened play at the Concacaf Under-20 Men's Championship with a 7-1 win over Puerto Rico in Bradenton, Florida.

Indiana University forward Justin Rennicks and Toronto FC's Ayo Akinola led the USA in a match that was never in doubt.

Pulling the strings for the USA were FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal and Alex Mendez, who just signed with German club Freiburg. Both were excellent and rewarded for their work with goals in the first half.

Uly Llanez, Mendez's former teammate at the LA Galaxy academy who is expected to sign with Wolfsburg when he turns 18, came off the bench to set up Akinola for the sixth goal and score the seventh himself.

The USA was without Mark McKenzie, who will join the team in Bradenton after playing for the Philadelphia Union in its 3-1 loss to New York City FC in the MLS playoffs on Wednesday night. David Ochoa, who spent the 2017-18 season in the Real Salt Lake academy, replaced CJ dos Santos, who remained at Benfica, where he is in its youth program.

In other Group A openers, Suriname beat the U.S. Virgin Islands, 13-2, and Trinidad & Tobago edged St. Vincent & the Grenadines, 3-2. The USA's next game is against the U.S. Virgin Islands on Saturday.

Only the six group winners advance to the semifinal group stage in the marathon U-20 tournament. The top two teams from the two three-team groups will advance to the 2019 Under-20 World Cup in Poland.

Notable: FC Dallas rookie Brandon Servania started in midfield for the USA, lining up against his brother, Jaden Servania, who started for Puerto Rico. The Servanias hail from Alabama. Brandon turned pro in 2018 after one season at Wake Forest. Jaden Servania, a high school senior, switched to the Houston Dynamo's academy program from FC Dallas' program.

Nov. 1 in Bradenton, Fla.
USA 7 Puerto Rico 1. Goals: own goal 5, pen. 57, Mendez 11, Pomykal 27, Akinola 49, 69, Llanez 86; Cosme 33.
USA -- Scott, Lindsey (Dorsey 74), Rogers, Real, Gloster; Torres (Angking 64), B.Servania, Mendez; Akinola, Rennicks (Llanez 67), Pomykal.
Puerto Rico -- Calderon, Toro, N.Cardona, S.Diaz (G.Calderon 34), Velez, Cosme, G.Diaz, Rabell, Villafane (Arzan 46), Hernandez (Montanez 63), J.Servania.
Red Card: Puerto Rico -- G.Calderon 83.
Yellow Cards: USA -- Real 52, B.Servania 72; Puerto Rico -- Calderon 56.

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