BRADENTON, Fla. – Toronto FC II’s Ayo Akinola scored a pair of goals as the United States U-20 National Team swept to a 7-1 victory against Puerto Rico in its opening game of the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship at IMG Academy on Thursday evening.
Seven players in the United States’ starting lineup had prior USL experience, with the side captained by current Bethlehem Steel FC defender Matt Real – a selection to the 2018 USL 20 Under 20 in October alongside fellow members of the back line Jaylin Lindsey (Swope Park Rangers) and Sam Rogers (Seattle Sounders FC 2).
The United States took the lead in the fifth minute via an own goal by Puerto Rico’s Nicolas Cardona before former LA Galaxy II midfielder Alex Mendez doubled the lead in the 11th minute. FC Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal added a third before Puerto Rico responded in the 35th minute through a goal by Luis Miguel Cosme to make it a two-goal game at the halftime break.
Akinola notched his first goal of the game four minutes into the second half, however, before Justin Rennicks – who played this past summer for USL League Two side the Boston Bolts – converted from the penalty spot to make it 5-1. Akinola then added a second on a diving header in the 69th minute before former LA Galaxy II midfielder Ulysses Llanez added the final goal of the game with four minutes to go.
The United States continues its bid to defend its Concacaf U-20 Championship and earn a place at next year’s 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup on Saturday when it faces the U.S. Virgin Islands at 6 p.m. ET.