The 2018 CONCACAF Men’s U-20 Championship wraps up with a final between the two teams most might have picked to get this far before the tournament kicked off.
Mexico is historically the dominant team at the men’s U-20 level of CONCACAF: 13 titles overall, including a recent hat-trick of regional U-20 championships from 2011 to 2015. The USA is the defending CONCACAF Men’s U-20 champion, having won the title for the first time in 2017.
Also, the present U-20 cohort owes much to the teams that contested the 2017 CONCACAF Men’s U-17 Championship - at which Mexico beat the USA on penalties in the final.
That result was something of an upset: the USA had beaten Mexico in the group stage of that tournament and seemed a worthy favorite to win the competition by the time the final rolled around. El Tri needed a stoppage-time equalizer just to get to the shoot-out, but held its nerve from the penalty spot.
So this game provides the USA with a chance both to avenge the upset at last year’s regional U-17 final, and lay down its own marker for a measure of dominance at the CONCACAF U-20 level. Back-to-back regional U-20 titles isn’t quite the same as Mexico’s 13-tournament string of CONCACAF U-20 championships, but it’s a start.
The US team at this tournament has won every game it has played, outscoring opponents by a total of 44-2. The team’s last outing was its narrowest win of the tournament: 1-0 over Honduras. But the scoreline reflects a game that was not so much an even contest and more a display of uneven finishing from the USA.
Meanwhile, Mexico has yet to lose at this tournament, but has not progressed with quite as much confidence as the young Americans. El Tri was held to a 2-2 draw by Jamaica in the Group Stage, and had to fight back for a 2-2 draw with Panama in the Qualifying Stage just to get to this final.
Those performances suggest Mexico is the more vulnerable of the two finalists. The USA has made a habit of scoring early and often at this tournament - and it hasn’t coughed up a lead yet.
If scores are tied after 90 minutes, the game will go to extra time, and then a penalty shoot-out, if required.
Per livesoccertv.com, here’s where to find the game: