Ulysses Lainez

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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.