The US Under-20 national team got their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track with a 4-1 win over Haiti at Estadio Nacional in Costa Rica on Tuesday evening, paced by a hat trick from Real Salt Lake’s Brooks Lennon (pictured above).
The result pushes the young Yanks back into a stable position in Group B after their tournament-opening loss to Panama on Saturday. They will look to clinch advancement to the second group stage with a win or draw vs. St. Kitts & Nevis, who have been heavily defeated in their first two games, on Friday. Finishing second in the group behind Panama would expose the US to the possibility of a tougher second-phase assignment, however, including a potential meeting with Mexico.
Coach Tab Ramos’ side endured a wobbly start on Tuesday, as they dominated possession in the early stages only for the Caribbean side to tear them open on the counterattack in the 16th minute. Kenley Dede adeptly volleyed a cross from Jonel Desire past US goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann to earn a shock early lead for Haiti.
The favored US side responded, paced by the work of New York City FC rookie Jonathan Lewis, who was making his first start in the tournament. Lewis won a penalty kick just short of the half-hour mark, darting behind his marker to connect with D.C. United academy product Eryk Williamson's through ball into the 18-yard box.
Lennon would calmly stroke home the spot kick to draw the US level going into halftime.
Seven minutes after the break, Luca De La Torre exploited a mistake by Haitian ‘keeper Isaac Rouaud on a US corner kick to give the Yanks the lead, and moments later Lennon iced the result with two goals in just six minutes, one of them assisted by the Portland Timbers' Jeremy Ebobisse.
The US meet St. Kitts & Nevis at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa at 5:30 pm on Friday (Univision Deportes Network, Facebook Live).