BRADENTON, Fla. – Toronto FC II’s Ayo Akinola scored his seventh goal of the tournament to lead the United States U-20 National Team to a 1-0 victory against Honduras on Monday night at IMG Academy to send the side into the final of the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship.
The United States will play Mexico on Wednesday night for the championship, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. ET. The game is set to air live on Univision Deportes and online at Concacafgo.com.
Akinola – who had five goals in 16 appearances for TFC II in the 2018 USL Championship campaign – almost put the United States ahead in the 15th minute with a flicked header from a corner that went just wide of the left post. Sebastian Soto also had a big chance four minutes before halftime when he got in behind the Honduran defense but was unable to direct his finish past goalkeeper Oscar Reyes.
Six minutes into the second half Akinola provided the breakthrough, however, as he took advantage of a misplayed attempt at a clearance to run onto the ball as it entered the right side of the penalty area. Akinola hit a controlled first-time finish that bounced past Reyes and just inside the left post for the lead.
“It was very important,” said Akinola. “I’m going to give credit to Honduras, they were just setting their block and defending really hard and then literally just one ball over the top and we finished our chances. That’s it.”
Akinola’s goal tied him for the team-high with former LA Galaxy II midfielder Ulysses Llanez. The United States’ defense – which included former New York Red Bulls II fullback Chris Gloster and former Bethlehem Steel FC center back Mark McKenzie – held Honduras at bay from there as Real Monarchs SLC goalkeeper David Ochoa needed to make only one save to record the shutout.
The U.S. will now get to defend its title against Mexico, which played to a 2-2 draw with Panama to top the other group on FIFA Fair Play due to fewer yellow cards in the tournament.