USMNT U-20 turns focus to Canada at Concacaf Championship

The U.S. men’s under-20 team got off to a strong start at the Under-20 Koncacafe Championships on Saturday, but attention is now shifting to a stronger opponent in Canada on Monday.

Mikey Varas watched from the sidelines in Honduras as his team beat St. Kitts and Nevis 10-0 in the first leg of the tournament. A total of seven different players scored on Saturday, with Cade Cowell, Kaden Clarke and Mauricio Cuevas all scoring strong performances from the Americans.

With Canada on the horizon on Monday night, Varas and his players are focused on their jobs.

“In the end, we can improve in all aspects of the game,” Varas said after Saturday’s victory. “Monday’s game is going to be a battle and right now we’re focused on rebuilding, focusing on a very clear idea and strategy against Canada, and getting the guys ready for a really big game.”

The Americans showed off their skills for 90 minutes, constantly putting pressure on St. Kitts and Nevis and finding different ways to wreak havoc in the final third. The VAR system gave the Americans two penalty opportunities, and the creativity and hunger of a few attacking players really made Saturday’s game a long day for St. Kitts.

Even after holding a 6-0 lead in the first half, USMNT U-20 continued to dominate the second half. Paxten Aaronsohn scored a brace in three minutes, Niko Tsakiris finished his first cap with the second goal of the match and Quinn Sullivan added two assists as a substitute.

It was an impressive day for the Americans, who tried to use every minute of Saturday’s game to improve as a unit.

“I love that we took care of the business, I liked that the guys came into the game with a clear identification of courage, ruthlessness and, in the end, playing against the opponent in front of them,” Varas said. St. Kitts put in an incredible effort and I think our boys showed a lot of respect for the game and then played hard all the time.”

“I felt that towards the end of the match, the team really felt it and the goals kept scoring us,” said Tsakiris. “We have confidence in ourselves and I think that showed today and overall the band looked very strong. Everyone is excited about what’s to come because we don’t have to wait long to get on the field again.”

The Canada Under-20s were defeated 1-0 by Cuba on Saturday night, putting themselves in an early hole in Group A with just two games left to play. Mauro Biello’s team, led by Toronto II players Hugo Mbonge and Kobe Hamilton, will be a new test for the Americans on Monday night, especially with the additional importance of the result for Canada to avoid relegation.

The USMNT U-20 team competed in several regions against St. Kitts and Nevis in their first competitive match under Varas, but are looking to improve to take another major step towards a World Championship and Olympic qualification.

“We just have to be focused all the time on learning how to get through games faster because now we have to focus on Canada,” Cuevas said. “We have to go and prepare for this, prepare our minds and bodies for this game.”

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