Ayo Akinola

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Stunner leads U.S. to U-20 World Cup berth

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Alex Mendez and Ulysses Llanez scored first half goals and the United States U-20 men’s national team cruised to a 4-0 win over Costa Rica at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship semifinals on Friday.

The win means the U.S. needs a draw or better against Honduras on Monday to set up a match-up with Mexico or Panama in the Nov. 21 final in Bradenton, Florida.

Costa Rica is out unless the U.S. beats Honduras by more than four goals.

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Juan Pablo Torres and Ayo Akinola also scored for the U.S., who can make plans for the summer in Poland.

Mendez’s goal was a masterpiece, the Freiburg center mid slashing a left-footed ball into the Upper 90. Mendez is an LA Galaxy Academy product.

U.S. U-20 men one win from World Cup

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One win.

That’s all the United States’ U-20 men’s national team will need to advance to this summer’s World Cup in Poland and the Pan-American Games in Peru.

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The Yanks cruised through group play with a nearly perfect nine days of soccer, the closest of five wins a 6-1 defeat of Trinidad and Tobago.

Competition is a bit tougher in the knockout stage, but Costa Rica and Honduras did the U.S. a massive solid by drawing 1-1 in their opener.

Now Tab Ramos’ kids can qualify for the World Cup with a defeat of Costa Rica on Friday or Honduras on Monday.

The top two teams in each group qualify for Poland, while the Group A winner advances to the CONCACAF U-20 Championship to face the winner of Group B (Mexico, El Salvador, or Panama).

The U.S. has spread the scoring around, lead by 17-year-old Ulysses Lainez of LA Galaxy II (six goals). His former Galaxy Academy buddy, Alexis Mendez of Freiburg has five goals, as does Toronto FC 18-year-old Ayo Akinola.

Ramos announces U.S. U-20 World Cup qualifying roster

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Tab Ramos announced the 20 men tasked with leading the United States to another U-20 World Cup through qualifying next month in Florida.

[ USWNT: Surgery for O’Hara ]

Goalkeeper Brady Scott is the lone returning member of the team which won the 2017 CONCACAF Championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2017 World Cup in South Korea.

The U-20 World Cup is this summer in Poland.

Several players have MLS minutes under their belts, including promising Jaylin Lindsey of Sporting KC and Mark McKenzie of Philadelphia. McKenzie, 19, could miss some of the Union’s playoff run, having started the side’s last four matches at center back, but reportedly will not join the U-20s yet.

Ayo Akinola, 18, is also one of the headliners, having scored five goals in the USL and nabbing a goal and an assist in six matches for Toronto FC.

There are four college players and six youngsters based overseas.

U.S. U-20 roster for CONCACAF Championship

Goalkeepers: 1-Brady Scott (FC Koln), 12-CJ Dos Santos (S.L Benfica).

Defenders: 2-Jaylin Lindsey (Sporting KC), 3-Chris Gloster (Hannover 96), 4-Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), 5-Matthew Real (Philadelphia Union), 14-Manny Perez (NC State), 16-Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), 19-Sam Rogers (Seattle Sounders).

Midfielders: 6-Brandon Servania (FC Dallas), 7-Juan Pablo Torres (K.S.C. Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen), 8-Alex Mendez (SC Freiburg), 10-Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), 15-Anthony Fontana (Philadelphia Union), 18-Isaac Angking (New England Revolution).

Forwards: 9-Justin Rennicks (Indiana University), 11-Ulysses Llanez (Unattached), 13-Griffin Dorsey (Indiana University), 17-Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC), 20-Frankie Amaya (UCLA)

U-17 World Cup wrap: United States, Paraguay shine (video)

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The United States and Paraguay clinched knockout round places by moving to 2-0, while hosts India temporarily lifted their crowd with an 82nd minute equalizer before losing its second match of the competition.

[ MORE: USMNT scenarios for final day of WCQ ]

All that and more in the wrap.


Group A

Ghana 0-1 United StatesRECAP

The U.S. is on the fast track to win Group A after weathering an early second half storm from the young Black Stars. Toronto FC prospect Ayo Akinola scored the winner after great work from Man of the Match midfielder (center back here) Chris Durkin of DC United.

India 1-2 Colombia

Estudiantil’s Juan Peñaloza ensured that the U.S. will be playing for Group A when the group stage comes to a close on Thursday. Peñaloza gave Colombia a lead and then answered Jeakson’s 82nd minute goal one minute later to restore the advantage.


Group B

Turkey 0-3 Mali

Rebounding form a thriller of an opening day loss to Paraguay, with goals from Djemoussa Traore, Fode Konate, and Lassana Ndiaye leading the way. Turkey falls to 0-1-1.

Paraguay 4-2 New Zealand

Someone buy Paraguay captain Alexis Duarte his dinner and keep him upright, or perhaps Duarte should turn to Anibal Vega. Not one but two own goals from the Cerro Porteno defender dropped Paraguay’s into a 2-1 hole, but Vega scored twice in four second half minutes to keep the South American side atop the group.

Terrific Akinola finish keeps U.S. perfect at U-17 World Cup (video)

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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.

[ MORE: USMNT scenarios for final day of WCQ ]

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.