Thanks to a 4-2 win over Canada, the United States qualified for the U-20 World Cup, which will take place in Turkey this summer. Before then, U.S. U-20 coach Tab Ramos has something else in his sights: a U-20 CONCACAF Championship final matchup with host Mexico.
El Tri won bronze in the 2011 U-20 World Cup, and this current generation won the 2011 U-17 World Cup.
"Yes, facing Mexico in the final would be the dream but Costa Rica or Cuba have the final word in that regard," Ramos said. The Yanks will play Cuba in the semifinal (Ramos was speaking before the Costa Rica – Cuba quarterfinal finished). "We're positive and we think we'll see [El Tri] in the final. It would be the normal thing. I'd love to face Mexico."
In the U-20 CONCACAF Championship, the four semifinalists earn passage to the U-20 World Cup. The Americans advanced out of a group containing Costa Rica and Haiti by two one-goal victories. Then, on Tuesday, in the crucial quarterfinal, they beat neighboring Canada.
The Canucks took the lead midway through the first half thanks to a long-range blast from Dylan Carreiro. Then, in a 17-minute spell to close out the first half, the United States plundered three goals to take a commanding lead.
"I have to give credit to the players because they came back," Ramos said. "We grabbed hold of the ball fortunately and took responsibility. Canada's goal served as a wake up call."
A Jose Villarreal strike 10 minutes into the second half, his second of the night, killed off the match as a contest. The Baby Eagles sat back and ground out the win despite coughing up a goal to Samuel Piette.
"At the end of the day I don't want to dampen the celebration saying I'm not happy with the final score, although, to be honest, we played much better than they did," Ramos said. "That doesn't take away the fact that we did not play a good second half. We have to get a lot better, but our work is done so far."
Integral attacker Luis Gil will leave the group to rejoin Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. The 2013 MLS season kicks off this weekend. Jerome Kiesewetter will rejoin club side VfB Stuttgart, as well. Right back Eric Miller is injured.
Even with qualification assured and a depleted squad, Ramos has circled a potential final against Mexico, which first must overcome Jamaica in the quarters, on March 3 as his objective.
"I'm satisfied," Ramos said. "Now our aspiration is to win the tournament."
Mario Aguirre contributed additional reporting from Puebla, Mexico
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