Mindful Acosta beats nerves, helps U.S. to CU20 crown

Honduras-born Danny Acosta (#3) was a standout for the USA at left back during the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. (Photo: Straffon Images)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- As Danny Acosta stepped up to take what would end up being the decisive penalty in the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship final, plenty of emotions were swirling.

Yes, the title was on the line, but for the 19-year-old defender it was so much more.  You see, against Honduras, Acosta was squaring off against the land of his birth.  He obviously wanted to convert for the crest on his chest, but he doesn’t forget where he’s from.

“Honestly, I was nervous because I’m originally from Honduras and I’m playing against my home country and it wasn’t easy at all,” said Acosta, who was born in San Pedro Sula and will be given some solace with the fact that both the U.S. and Honduras will be headed to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in a few months.

Acosta got the Americans’ party started when he capped off what was a perfect series of penalty kicks by simply rolling his shot right down the middle of the goal.  Honduras goalkeeper Javier Delgado dove to his left and could only look back helplessly as the ball hit the back of the net.

Those initial celebrations were cut short as referee Henry Bejarano intervened.  After a few seconds, however, the situation was clarified and the victorious team had its moment.

“I didn’t know it was going on,” Acosta said with a smile.  “I just looked around and the referee blew his whistle and even pulled out a yellow (card).”

The Americans showed a lot of growth over its six games at the tournament. A 1-0 loss to Panama in the opener was followed by four straight wins, before a claim to crown was validated from the penalty spot after a scoreless draw in the curtain closer.

“Since day one, we came here and told everyone that this is our tournament,” finished Acosta. “We didn’t start the way we wanted and people were doubting us, but throughout the tournament we got better.  It was a tough battle and we came out with the win and that’s all that matters.”