For the first time in the history of the competition, a span of 14 tournaments, the United States will not send a representative to the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
With qualification contingent upon defeating Honduras in the quarterfinals of the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship on Sunday, the US’ path to the United Arab Emirates was clear. In the end, it was a roadmap Richie Williams’ team couldn’t follow, as the Hondurans booked their tickets to the World Cup with a 3-1 victory in Panama City.
Midfielder Joel Soñora was active early on for the Americans, nearly creating a goal and scoring one himself in the early going. But Honduras didn’t back down, forcing goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell into a 26th-minute save before taking the lead a few minutes before half.
With just three minutes until the intermission, Christopher Alegria struck a powerful shot from all of 30 yards, an effort that was nearly saved by Caldwell before nestling in the back of the net to give the Hondurans a 1-0 advantage that turned out to be short-lived.
Once again it was Soñora who forced the issue, as the Boca Juniors starlet collected midfielder Christopher Lema’s pass before dipping to the left and finding the back of the net in the 45th minute to tie the score at 1-1 heading into the break.
However, the second half was all Honduras. Brayan Velasquez set up Alberto Elis in the 57th minute for an easy tap in to make it 2-1 before Kevin Alvarez’s free kick put the game away in the 68th.
It was the US’ first U-17 loss in eight meeting with Honduras in CONCACAF youth tournaments and championships. Panama and Canada sealed their places in the U-17 World Cup with victories against Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.