In a match that was never close, the U.S. under-20 men's national soccer team dominated Suriname on the way to a 4-0 win in their opening game of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Guatemala.
The Americans, whose starting eleven featured Zac MacMath and Amobi Okugo of the Philadelphia Union, came out playing an attractive, attacking style of soccer in their 4-3-3 formation and kept their foot on the pedal throughout the entire first half.
Bobby Wood, a Hawaii native who has just begun to crack the first team at 1860 Munich in the German 2nd Bundesliga, scored the first goal off a corner kick. Left winger Joe Gyau, who may have been the best player in the game with his darting runs and skill on the ball, scored the second goal. Gyau is an exciting attacker who is currently with the reserves at TSG Hoffenheim.
The third goal came after a series of defensive errors by Suriname. A giveaway left the ball with USA midfielder Kelyn Rowe, who delivered a beautiful ball to Derby County striker Conor Doyle. The Texas native headed the ball on goal, and although the goalkeeper stopped Doyle's effort he spilled the ball just barely past the goal line for an own goal. Much more after the jump.
The final goal came in the second half, after Suriname had already been issued a red card to add insult to injury. Rowe got himself some space just outside the area and blasted the ball into the net. The UCLA midfielder is an exceptional talent who could have been a high pick had he come out for the 2011 SuperDraft. Instead, he will probably be a top-3 pick in next year's draft.
Union midfielder Amobi Okugo, who played in this same tournament in 2009 but just missed out on the '09 U-20 World Cup roster, played the first half, picking up a yellow card. Coach Thomas Rongen may rest Okugo in the second and final group stage game to make sure he doesn't pick up another card, which would rule him out of the all-important quarterfinal match, which will be a do-or-die scenario to qualify for the U-20 World Cup.
Goalkeeper Zac MacMath went the full 90 minutes, but did not have much work to do. He will probably be tested more in the next game against Panama.
This tournament serves as the qualifying process for CONCACAF to the U-20 World Cup in Colombia later this year. The four semifinalists in this tournament will move onto the World Cup; this means that the quarterfinal matches are win-or-go-home, high pressure games. The U.S. would face either Guatemala, Jamaica, or Honduras in the quarterfinals.