USMNT Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team opened the 2022 Concacaf U-20 Championship with a 10-0 victory over St. Kitts and Nevis on Saturday.
The United States scored seven goals in a strong performance, including braces from midfielders Paxten Aaronson and Niko Tsakiris.
Goalkeeper Antonio Carrera, defenders Noah Allen and Michael Halliday, and midfielders Alejandro Alvarado Jr. and Tsakiris all earned their U-20 international debuts against the Sugar Boyz. Tsakiris, 16, defender Mauricio Cuevas, midfielder Rokas Pukstas, and forwards Cade Cowell and Tyler Wolff all scored for the first time in international competition.
The USMNT had possession of the ball for nearly the entire encounter, out-possessing St. Kitts 82 percent to 18 percent. In the first ten minutes of the contest, the U-20s earned three corners, and after a few chances on goal, the breakthrough came in the 18th minute, when a Video Assistant Referee review gave the U.S. a penalty kick. Cowell scored the game’s first goal, which was also his first U-20 international goal.
VAR was used for the first time in the Concacaf U-20 Championship this year, and the United States profited from it in the 33rd minute. A handball by St. Kitts prompted the referee to point to the spot once more, and attacker Caden Clark fired the ball into the left side of the net.
After that, the floodgates opened, with the US scoring four more first-half goals after the 42nd minute. Clark played up to Cuevas following a St. Kitts yellow card, and while the defender’s cross towards goal was deflected, it fell right to Wolff for the tap-in. After a corner kick, Pukstas headed in another USA goal three minutes later.
During a lengthy stoppage period prompted by several extended VAR reviews throughout the half, two more goals were added. In the second minute of stoppage time, Clark provided the assist, teeing up Cuevas to blast a shot from the far corner of the penalty box.
Cowell was tripped up in the area eight minutes after the end of regular time, earning another penalty for the Americans, and Tsakiris coolly completed another penalty to round out the end-of-half onslaught at 6-0.
After the break, the goals kept coming in. When substitute Quinn Sullivan went up against Kittitian goalkeeper Xander Parke for a ball in the air, Parke punched it into his own net, opening the score in the second half.
With a flurry of three goals in five minutes at the hour mark, three substitutes-midfielders Aaronson, Diego Luna, and Jack McGlynn-kept the momentum going for the USA. Aaronson scored a brace in less than three minutes after coming on.
In the 64th, Sullivan set him up for his first, and in the 67th, Luna played him downfield to set up his second. In the 69th minute, Sullivan found an onrushing Tsakiris for the United States’ 10th and final goal.
The victory is the MYNT’s first step in qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia in 2023. The U-20s returned to the pitch in November 2021 after a hiatus caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, and today’s game was the team’s first formal international competition since June 2019.
The USMNT U-20 will play regional opponent Canada on Monday, June 20 (8:30 p.m. ET) before finishing the group stage on Wednesday, June 22 against Cuba (8:30 p.m. ET). The Estadio Nacional in Tegucigalpa will host all of the USA’s Group E matches.