Forward Joshua Perez grabbed a hat trick to lead the United States Under-17 national team to a 4-1 win over Guatemala on Thursday night in the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, pushing the Baby Yanks to a perfect 3-0-0 record in the tournament.
Perez, who was recently with Fiorentina's youth academy in Italy, got the scoring started early when his curling free kick snuck in at the near post in the 10th minute. Nine minutes later, it was Perez again after Borussia Dortmund prospect Christian Pulisic found him with a flicked pass over a Guatemala defender, allowing Perez to cut inside and finish the move with a left-footed shot.
US goalkeeper Will Pulisic was forced into a couple strong saves in the first half, dealing with a dangerous corner in the 16th minute and turning over a hard shot in the 27th.
The third goal of the day for Perez and the US came on the stroke of halftime after Christian Pulisic drew a penalty kick as he burst into the box, a chance that Perez would comfortably finish off. Pierre da Silva found the final goal of the game for the US in the 48th minute after a strong from from Luca de la Torre found da Silva for the finish on the left side. Guatemala would pull one back through Erick Soto in the 65th minute, breaking a 245-minute shutout streak by the US defense in the tournament.
Perez's hat trick was the second of the tournament, after Joe Gallardo scored three against Cuba. The US, coached by Richie Williams (above), will next face hosts Honduras on Sunday, March 8 at 10 pm ET (Fox Soccer Plus, UDN). Though they are all but guaranteed a spot in the final stage of the tournament, a win against Honduras would put them into the tournament final and hand them an automatic berth in the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile this fall.