USA’s exuberant trouncing of Costa Rica in its first game of the Qualifying Stage confirmed the suspicion that the home team is the favorite to win this edition of the CONCACAF Men’s U-20 Championship. The Group Stage was a mostly easy ride for all six of the teams that made it through to the second phase of this tournament, so it wasn’t entirely clear that it was fair to burden the USA U-20 MNT with the favorite tag merely because it made its Group Stage look a little easier than it appeared to be for the other group winners.
But the 4-0 dismantling of Costa Rica - a team that won all its Group Stage games without conceding a goal and played Honduras to a 1-1 draw in its first game of the Qualifying Stage - does suggest the USA is indeed more than a little better than the rest of the field at this tournament. The big win over Los Ticos was the most convincing result of the first two rounds of the Qualifying Stage, and the USA looks in good shape to handle what is expected to be the sterner test provided by Honduras.
For Los Catrachos, the first priority is to not lose by a lot of goals. Honduras is technically still battling Costa Rica for a place at the 2019 U-20 World Cup, but that place is really Honduras’ to lose: stay ahead of Costa Rica on goal difference (or goals scored if goal difference is tied) and Los Catrachos can look forward to a big tournament next year.
A win or tie for the USA will send the home team into the final of this championship. Honduras will need a win to make the final. Thirty goals in the Group Stage would suggest Los Catrachos have the firepower to trouble the Americans, but even a goal or two might not be sufficient to halt the USA’s progress: the 4-0 win over Costa Rica was the U-20 MNT’s lowest margin of victory at this tournament so far.
Per livesoccertv.com, here’s where to find the game if watching from the USA: