The United States added another feather in their cap at the Concacaf U-20 Championship, booking a 2024 Summer Olympics spot and advancing to the title match by thrashing hosts Honduras 3-0 in the semifinals Friday night at Estadio Morazán.
With the convincing result, the US became the third country to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games in men's soccer. It will be their first appearance in the quadrennial tournament since Beijing 2008, having missed out on the 2012, 2016 and 2020 editions – the latter two via semifinal losses in Concacaf qualification, coincidentally, to Honduras.
The lopsided win came three days after the US sealed qualification for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia thanks to Paxten Aaronson's brace in a 2-0 quarterfinal defeat of Costa Rica. The 18-year-old was again on the scoresheet in San Pedro Sula, as was fellow Philadelphia Union homegrown Quinn Sullivan and F.C. Vizela midfielder Alejandro Alvarado Jr.
Now, the US look to cap off their stellar fortnight in Honduras with a win in Sunday's final vs. upstart Dominican Republic (8 pm ET | FS1, TUDN) to make it a three-peat at the Concacaf U-20 Championship. The Dominican Republic, who defeated Guatemala 4-2 in a penalty shootout after playing to a 2-2 draw in Friday's other semifinal, stand in their way. The Caribbean island nation, for the first time ever, is also heading to the FIFA U-20 World Cup and Summer Olympics.
In a new regional format, this year’s Concacaf U-20 Championship served as qualifying for both the FIFA U-20 World Cup (four berths) and the 2024 Olympic Games (two berths). In men's soccer, the Olympics is historically a U-23 tournament that allows for three overage players.
Even without the suspended Cade Cowell, the US were dominant from the get-go, opening the scoring just three minutes in after Aaronson poked home a free kick from defender Brandan Craig – yet another Philly Academy product who's making a name for himself at this year's competition.
After Alvarado Jr. doubled the visitors' lead in the 22nd minute, New York Red Bulls playmaker Caden Clark forced the Catrachos' defense into a poor clearance of his close-range shot, allowing Sullivan to make it 3-0 two minutes before the break.
Even with qualification to the U-20 World Cup and Olympic Games secured, there's still plenty of motivation – both collectively and individually – for the United States, who have 17 (of 20 total) MLS players on their roster.
The two-time defending champions are looking for a third straight Concacaf Under-20 title that will yet again confirm their dominance in the region. Sullivan, meanwhile, is sitting on six goals – tied for first with Marco Aceituno of Honduras – and wants to be the sole Golden Boot winner.
The US will be participating in the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament for the 14th time. Plus, head coach Mikey Varas' team booked a fifth straight FIFA U-20 World Cup trip for the Yanks.