Ayo Akinola’s goal off the bench helped the United States to a 1-0 win over Ghana and clinched the Baby Yanks a place in the knockout rounds of the U-17 World Cup in India.
Chris Durkin and goalkeeper Justin Garces starred for the U.S., which had to deal with a strong if not dominant 30-minute sequence from Ghana.
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The United States looked very good in the opening stages of the match, though Ghana’s electricity and danger in countering was on display.
The Ghanians finished the first half well, and carried that momentum into what was a dominant first 15 minutes of the second frame.
That included an incredible save from Garces (Kendall SC) and a subsequent block by Durkin (DC United).
Blaine Ferri ripped a left-footed wide in the 66th minute as the Baby Yanks attempted to get a foothold.
Akinola gave the U.S. its breakthrough in the 75th minute, the Toronto FC II player with a fine finish.
Durkin made a strong tackle at the edge of the final third and slipped the ball inside to Chris Gloster, who fed Akinola on the right edge of the box. Akinola bodied off his defender before scoring.