The United States men's U-20 team hammered Nicaragua 5-0 on Saturday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Concacaf U-20 Championship in Honduras. Victory over Costa Rica on Tuesday would guarantee passage to the 2023 U-20 World Cup in Indonesia, but the ultimate goal is a win in the semifinals on July 1 to book a place at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
The U.S. finished first in Group E to secure a last-16 match against a hugely overmatched Nicaragua side. The game called on the USYNT's most creative players to unlock a packed defense, and two of the team's most highly touted attackers delivered by scoring the first three goals.
Just before halftime, 18-year-old Diego Luna — who made his Real Salt Lake debut on June 4 after arriving from El Paso Locomotive — dropped a step-over and tore past two defenders to the byline before picking out 18-year-old Philadelphia Union attacker Quinn Sullivan for the go-ahead goal.
Sullivan was then taken down in the box in the 56th minute and Luna converted the penalty.
⚽ GOAL!The @USYNT have doubled the advantage! Diego Luna scores from the penalty spot! | #CU20 pic.twitter.com/tFmg4pquZx
— Concacaf (@Concacaf) June 26, 2022
In the 65th, 18-year-old San Jose Earthquakes winger Cade Cowell (already capped once at the senior level), beat his man out wide before playing the perfect ball across for Sullivan to get his brace.
Sullivan's now leading the tournament with five goals. It's easy to see why Lionel Messi is such a fan.
In the 73rd-minute, Caden Clark (on loan at RBNY from RB Leipzig) hit a cross in the area that forced a Nicaragua defender into an own goal, and then 18-year-old LA Galaxy defender Jalen Neal was on-hand to complete the 5-0 rout in the 85th.
The U.S. will again be heavy favorites against Costa Rica in the quarters, but the Ticos are coming off a 4-1 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in the Round of 16. 19-year-old Dorian Rodriguez (Alajuelense) leads Costa Rica with four goals.