- Mexico won their fourth consecutive Concacaf U-17 Championship
- A free-scoring USA came up short in the final
- Canada and Haiti also qualified for Brazil 2019
There is no stopping Mexico, who maintained their dominance of the Concacaf U-17 Championship thanks to a 2-1 extra-time defeat of USA in this year’s final, a repeat of the 2017 showpiece match, which the Mexicans also won. Along with beaten semi-finalists Haiti and Canada, the two sides will now represent the region at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Brazil 2019.
FIFA.com looks back at the qualifying competition and picks out the highlights.
Mexico do it again
The Mexicans have been in sole possession of the Concacaf crown since 2013, with this year’s triumph being their fourth in a row. It was a title that Marco Ruiz’s side won in style too. Playing very much as a unit, they won all their matches.
El Tri’s 21 goals were shared around, with no player reaching five. Taking most of the scoring burden for the two-time world champions were Santiago Munoz, Efrain Alvarez and Israel Luna, who helped themselves to four apiece.
The Mexican defence also excelled, conceding just three goals, though the statistics do not tell the whole story. Mexico once again showed their mental strength, an attribute that has been a hallmark of theirs in recent times. Whenever they found themselves under pressure, they managed to stay calm and hold their nerve.
In the Round of 16 against Puerto Rico, they went a goal down after ten minutes before turning the match around, and in the final against USA they did it again, keeping their cool to come out on top once more.
USA come up just short
For the second time running, USA came close to lifting a trophy they last won in 2011. Just as they did in 2017, they took the Mexicans to extra-time before this time going down to Israel Luna’s 108th-minute winner.
The Stars and Stripes enjoyed a fine tournament, nonetheless, outscoring everyone else with 28 goals. Unbeaten in the group phase, they then advanced to the final without conceding a goal in the knockout rounds.
Their clutch of talented performers includes Gianluca Busio, who has already enjoyed some MLS game time with Sporting Kansas City. An equally gifted organiser and finisher, Busio struck five times in the competition and though he failed to find the back of the net in the semi-final win over Canada, he played a key role in three of his side’s four goals.
Canada and Haiti back in the big time
Having shown on their pre-tournament tour of Europe that they had the potential to achieve big things and make a return to the U-17 World Cup, Haiti did not let their fans down. Unbeaten winners of Group G with a goal difference of +11, the Haitians saw off Dominican Republic in the Round of 16 and then booked their Brazil 2019 place with a penalty-shootout defeat of Honduras in the quarter-finals.
Canada also needed penalties to make their return to the global stage after a four-year absence, accounting for regional heavyweights Costa Rica in the last eight.
Did you know?
- Mexico have only lost one of their last 37 matches at the Concacaf U-17 Championship, a defeat that came against USA in the group phase in 2017.
- USA have now finished runners-up eight times, a tournament record.
- Haiti will make their return to the U-17 World Cup 12 years after their tournament debut. On that occasion they qualified as Concacaf champions.