Panama's Leandro Avila (#17) eludes a USA defender before scoring in their CONCACAF Under-20 Championship match in Tibas, San Jose, Costa Rica, on February 17, 2017. (Photo: Victor Straffon/Straffon Images)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Panama survived an early ejection to earn a 1-0 win over the United States in the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship opener for each on Saturday at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa.
The result means that Panama sits second in Group B, trailing Haiti – which beat St. Kitts & Nevis, 5-1, earlier in the day – on goal difference, +4 to +1.
Justin Simons was shown a straight red card in the 18th minute for what appeared to be a harsh tackle on Tyler Adams, who eventually left the game with a left-leg injury.
The Panamanians netted the only goal in the 37th minute off a brilliant effort by Leandro Avila. The USA-based forward received in the left side of the box a diagonal pass from Ronaldo Cordoba. He then eluded a pair of defenders while drifting back towards the top of the penalty. Then, while falling, Avila somehow curled a right-footed shot into the far-side netting from 15-yards out.
Panama had other opportunities to increase its lead as Cordoba barely missed the right post after holding off defender Marlon Fossey on break away in the 62nd minute.
Charles Taylor was outstanding in the Panamanian goal, especially as the Americans pushed late for an equalizer. He made a tremendous diving save in the 80th minute to thwart Justen Glad and denied Jeremy Ebobisse from close range in the 87th minute.
Ebobisse nearly leveled just three minutes into the second half, but his header at the six-yard crashed off the crossbar.
Panama also defeated by the U.S. by same score when the sides last met in the competition two years ago.
On February 21, the United States will look to bounce back against Haiti, while Panama takes on St. Kitts & Nevis.