Pre-tournament expectations appeared to get a resounding endorsement from the first results in Group C of the 2017 CONCACAF Men's U-17 Championship. The USA is one of the favorites to win the tournament, and that status was confirmed by the 5-0 win over Jamaica the team delivered in its opening match.
The USA was initially defied by a stubborn and determined Jamaica side that didn't have a lot of success at getting the ball out of its own half but defended resolutely for the first half.
A match report based entirely on the first 45 minutes would have heaped praise on Jamaica captain and goalkeeper Tajay Griffiths, who saved a penalty as part of a sterling effort to keep his team in the game.
But the USA's pressure was unrelenting. Early in the second half, in the 53rd minute, Chris Durkin got the goal the US had long deserved, heading in off a corner kick. Still, falling behind didn't break the Jamaicans' resolve, and the 1-0 scoreline held until the game's final stanza.
Tim Weah's introduction to the field didn't change the game - it was almost entirely about the USA's dominance from the start - but perhaps his combination of fresh legs and fresh ideas served to help the Americans convert control of the match into control of the score board. Weah started and finished the sequence that provided the USA's second goal in the 77th minute. And three more goals followed in the waning minutes of the game.
The 5-0 win was a fair reflection of the USA's performance, though a disappointing outcome for a Jamaica team that held up surprisingly well against constant pressure for most of the match.
New York Red Bulls fans will note the USA got 90 minutes out of RBNY Academy prospect Chris Gloster, who is expected to be a regular at left back for the U-17 national team this year (since he was a regular for the team last year). Weah is also a former RBNY Academy player, though his association was brief and he is now part of the Paris Saint-Germain youth set-up.
Next up for the USA is Mexico - the other primary challenger for the title per pre-tournament expectations. Mexico opened up its group stage with a 6-0 win over El Salvador, so it is also a team showing the form expected of it at this competition.
Two teams advance from each group to the next stage of the tournament. From Group C, it is thought those two teams will be the USA and Mexico, with those two also eventually meeting in the final. After the opening round of group stage games, that line of thinking is untroubled.
The US and Mexico will confront each other next - on April 26 - but it is anticipated that will be merely the first time they see each other in this tournament: the final is on May 7.