The US U-20 Men's National Team could have qualified for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup if El Salvador had beaten Mexico in the second game in Group D of the Classification Stage of the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
Instead, however, it was Mexico who did the USA a favor. By beating El Salvador, El Tri took away the USA's quickest and easiest path to the U-20 World Cup, but also made the task of advancing a little less challenging for the Americans. Mexico didn't just beat El Salvador, it demolished its opponent, 6-1.
It was a must-win game for El Tri, which had lost its opening Classification Stage bout, 1-0, to the USA. The embarrassment of surrendering a startlingly good CONCACAF U-20 record (the loss was Mexico's first at this tournament since 2009 - which is also the last time Mexico didn't win the CONCACAF U-20 Championship) was clearly all El Tri was willing to endure. Failing to make the top four of the competition and qualify for the U-20 World Cup, without a fight at least, would be total failure for the pre-tournament favorite to lift the CONCACAF trophy.
So Mexico took out the frustration of probably having missed out on the final of this Championship by trouncing El Salvador. El Tri took a four-goal lead into half-time (El Salvador missed a penalty along the way), and added two more after the Salvadorans raised the faintest threat of a comeback by scoring in the 65th minute.
The big win hands Mexico a big goal difference advantage over both the other teams in the group. And that means El Tri is all but assured a place at the World Cup. If the USA beats El Salvador on March 3, Mexico will clinch a World Cup spot as the runner-up in the group. A tie will deliver the same outcome for El Tri. If El Salvador beats the USA, it will set up a three-way tie in the group that will be settled by overall goal difference - and it is now impossible for Mexico to finish behind both the USA and El Salvador on goal difference.
So Mexico is through to the U-20 World Cup, and might even still make the CONCACAF Championship final if the USA-El Salvador game delivers a fortuitous result.
As for the Americans, they can only be denied a place at the World Cup if they are thrashed by El Salvador: there is currently a six-goal difference between the two teams records in the Classification Stage, and the Salvadorans need to overturn that to sneak past the USA in the standings.
The US U-20s were hoping for a favor from this game, and they got it from El Tri. They will be in the Championship final with a win or a draw against El Salvador on March 3, and can only be denied a place at the U-20 World Cup by the sort of catastrophic loss El Tri just handed the Salvadorans.