Mexico prevail in strengthened CONCACAF region
Haiti, Mexico and USA reach U-20 Women's World Cup
Mexico win CONCACAF Women's U-20 Championship for the first time in history
Mexico defender Miriam Garcia named MVP, Canada's Jordyn Huitema wins Golden Boot
Mexico were crowned CONCACAF Women's U-20 champions for the first time in history after a drama-filled victory over holders USA in Couva, Trinidad and Tobago. Nothing could separate the two regional rivals after regulation and extra time, but it was Mexico who prevailed from the spot with goalkeeper Emily Alvarado making two crucial saves.
Dayana Cazares opened the scoring for El Tri with a well-taken goal in the 18th minute as the Stars and Stripes went behind for the first time in the tournament. Half-time substitute Tierna Davidson found the equaliser for coach Jitka Klimkova's side when she headed in from close range in the 49th minute.
The teams battled for the duration of the second half and extra time with both sides creating scoring opportunities, but the margins proved too fine and the victor was to be decided on penalties. Katty Martinez scored the first penalty kick and Alvarado saved USA's opening kick to ultimately give coach Christopher Cuellar's team the momentum they needed to make history, and bring home the trophy for the first time in their history at this level.
The qualified trio As the tournament served as qualifying for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup France 2018, the top three teams, Mexico, USA and Haiti, will represent the CONCACAF region at the global finals, which will take place from 5-24 August this year.
Cuellar's Mexico started the competition off strongly with two consecutive clean sheets, opening with a 4-0 victory over Jamaica and a 2-0 win over Nicaragua in Group B. They then met USA in the last match in group play where they were edged 2-1 after trailing 2-0 at half-time. Mexico sealed qualification to France 2018 in dramatic fashion when they defeated Canada in the semi-finals with a 4-3 victory on penalties, after the match finished 1-1 in regulation time.
USA came in to the tournament as heavy favourites, having won the competition for four straight editions (2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015). However the competition this time around proved to be stiffer. They opened with a 2-0 win over Nicaragua, followed that up by edging Jamaica 2-1 thanks to a late Jaelin Howell goal, before holding off Mexico 2-1. Proving just how improved the parity has become in the region was Haiti, who pushed USA all the way in the semi-finals, only to lose 3-0 on penalties after captain Nerilia Mondesir had scored a dramatic equaliser in stoppage time. With the win over Haiti, USA clinched qualification to France 2018.
History-making Haiti leave Trinidad and Tobago having written arguably the headline story. The Caribbean side opened the tournament with thrilling 3-2 wins over hosts Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica. Led by captain Mondesir, Haiti then fell in a 4-0 defeat by Canada but that was not enough to derail them from their mission. After the semi-final loss to USA, they then had to get past Canada in the match for third place to seal an historic qualification. Sherly Jeudy scored what proved to be the winning goal in the first half with a superb finish after she was played through by Mondesir, and Haiti became the first Caribbean side to qualify for the U-20 Women's World Cup.
"It's so crazy,” Mondesir told CONCACAF.com. "We worked hard and we are very happy. We’re going to celebrate for sure. We are all proud of what we achieved against Canada today. I don’t know what else there is to say. I just want to send a big thank you to everyone in Haiti. Haiti generally suffers from time to time, but we won for them and qualified for them. We’re happy for that."
Tournament awards Fair Play Award: Mexico Golden Glove Award: Emily Alvarado Golden Boot Award: Jordyn Huitema Golden Ball Award: Miriam Garcia
The stat 3 - Mexico are the third nation to lift the CONCACAF Women's U-20 Championship trophy after USA and Canada.
Did you know? Haiti are the first Caribbean nation to qualify for a Women's World Cup at any level. Trinidad and Tobago hosted the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2010, but they qualified as hosts.