The US Men's U-20 National Team has never been the stand-alone CONCACAF Champion. Between 1998 and 2007, the CONCACAF U-20 Championship didn't crown an outright winner - it was a mere qualifying tournament for the U-20 World Cup. The USA won its group three times in the five tournaments held without naming a true regional champ. In the preceding years, the Americans were four times the runners-up, and they have finished second twice since the Championship resumed naming a champion in 2009. No other team in the region has finished as runner-up more than twice.
But the perennial bridesmaids of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship will get another shot at that elusive first regional title on Sunday, March 4. The USA will play Honduras for the 2017 title - a re-match of the 1982 final that saw Honduras clinch its first regional U-20 Championship. Los Catrachos won again in 1994, but haven't been to a final since.
The USA is a regular in CONCACAF U-20 Championship finals: this will be its third in the last five tournaments. But for both teams, the win would be a rare opportunity to step out of Mexico's shadow. El Tri is the dominant team at this level: 13 times the CONCACAF Men's U-20 Champion. This year's Mexico, however, was vulnerable. In the group stage, Honduras missed a penalty and lost 1-0 to Mexico. Los Catrachos won their next two games to clinch their place in this final.
The USA beat Mexico in the Classification Stage, 1-0, upsetting the presumptive order of the group and giving the Americans to chance to make the final with a win over El Salvador. That win was accomplished, 2-1, and the USA is in the Championship game after an tournament-opening loss to Panama threatened to derail the team's campaign.
Both teams are in form, both teams feature New York Red Bulls. Tyler Adams is a star central midfielder for the USA, young for this age-group but a standout for the team nonetheless. Adams is a graduate of the RBNY Academy, the first-ever signing for NYRB II (at age 16), a USL Cup winner with the II team in 2016 (at age 17), and is now an 18-year-old U-20 international and a starter-in-waiting for the Red Bulls in MLS.
Adams is not yet a teammate of Douglas Martinez. The Honduran is expected to join NYRB II after this tournament is over. An attacking player who tends to play on the right for the Honduras U-20s, Martinez has been a regular starter throughout this Championship.
One of the two young (present and presumptive) Red Bulls will land at the club as a CONCACAF U-20 Champion.