Panama beat US to lead group
Group A favourites the United States (US) stumbled for a second time in two matches in the CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship in Kingston yesterday, after they went down 1-0 to a dogged Panama team at the National Stadium, leaving them winless after two starts.
The victory put the Panamanians atop the group with maximum six points, two more than Trinidad and Tobago, who turned back Aruba 5-1 in the day's first game.
Hosts Jamaica were engaged in the final match of a triple against Guatemala at press time last night. Both started the match with one point, after drawing their opening games.
The all-important goal for Panama came after 79 minutes from Carlos Small Cardenas, who took his chance clinically while battling strong pressure from the US defenders, managing to squeeze his shot under Zachery Steffen for the crucial goal.
Panama's Argentine coach, Leonardo Pipino, said it was a massive win for his team.
"I really feel very happy for the players and the people of Panama than for me," he stated.
His counterpart and US football legend, Tab Ramos, said his team had to take the risk and go for three points, as they wanted more than one point from the game.
"When we got to the last 20 minutes, we threw more players forward because we couldn't afford another tie, a tie would be like a loss. So we had to go forward as much as we could, and that made us vulnerable at the back," he said.
In the day's opener, Trinidad and Tobago eased pass Aruba - which ended with 10 men - 5-0 to register their first win in their second match in Group A.
Man-of-the-match Jabari Mitchell (3rd, 78th pen) led the young Trinis with a brace, while Aikim Andrews (16th), Kadeem Corbin (29th pen) and Karl Muckette (58th) were also on target for the Derek King-coached team.
The result gave Trinidad and Tobago some consolation, after they threw away a two-nil lead to draw 2-2 with hosts Jamaica in their opening game on Friday.
"We started well, and the game plan was to push them aside and dominate the play, and it worked for us in the early minutes," said King. "But I was disappointed with that goal we conceded; although, at the end of the day, three points is what's important."
The infringement that led to Corbin's penalty also resulted in Aruba's Ginayla Geerman seeing the red card.
Aruba's Duncan Homoet scored with the last kick of the game, in time added.
"Two big mistakes by the team - then the penalty and red card - made it 3-0 at half-time, and it's very hard to beat a team that has experience," said Aruba's coach, Arent Bekhof.