The US Under-17 national team clinched their place at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup on Sunday, sweeping aside Panama 3-0 via three second-half goals in their quarterfinal matchup at the Concacaf Championship at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Chicago Fire Academy goalkeeper Damian Las resumed his starting role in net for the national team, picking up his third-straight clean sheet in four tournament starts so far.
An obdurate Canaleros side kept things scoreless until the 54th minute, when Sporting KC's Gianluca Busio broke through, assisted by a pass from Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez. Giovanni Reyna doubled the lead from the penalty spot a few minutes later, with Ocampo-Chavez pivotal again as the one who drew the PK call.
Ricardo Pepi came off the bench to replace Reyna and ice the game in the late going, dispatching a feed from Danny Leyva to complete the scoring in the 75th minute.
Now assured of a World Cup slot, coach Raphael Wicky's side will now aim to win Concacaf's qualifying tournament. They'll meet Canada in the semifinals on Tuesday (6:30 pm CT | Concacaf's Facebook page, Univision Deportes), a rematch of their intense meeting in the opening match of group play, where Canada seized a surprise 2-0 lead before the US rallied for a 3-2 comeback win.
- USA - 54' - Gianluca Busio
- USA - 60' - Giovanni Reyna
- USA - 75' - Ricardo Pepi
USA: Damian Las (Chicago Fire) -- Joe Scally (NYCFC), Adam Armour, Kobe Hernandez-Foster (LA Galaxy), Tayvon Gray (NYCFC) -- Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy), Giovanni Reyna, Danny Leyva (Seattle Sounders) -- Gianluca Busio (Sporting KC), Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Seattle Sounders), Griffin Yow (D.C. United)
- 69' Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas) for Giovanni Reyna
- 79' Tyler Freeman (Sporting KC) for Griffin Yow
- 81' Bryang Kayo (D.C. United) for Gianluca Busio