Small comes up big for Panama in win over U.S.
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Carlos Small (red jersey) receives congratulations after scoring the lone goal in Panama's win over the USA in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship on January 11, 2015, in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo: Mexsport)

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- First-half substitute Carlos Small broke a scoreless draw in the 78th minute to lift Panama to a 1-0 Group A victory over the United States in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship on Sunday at the National Stadium. 

The win, the first-ever by the Canaleros in four tries against the Americans at the biennial event, allowed them to take sole possession of the group lead with a 2-0-0 record and six points.  Panama prevailed 4-0 over Aruba in its opener on Friday.  The loss left the U.S. winless at 0-1-1 and with only one goal. 

Small, who scored two goals during Central American qualifying, struck off an initial feed from Edson Samms.  The 19-year-old midfielder – a 32nd minute replacement for the injured Francisco Narbon -- beat a pair of defenders in the penalty area, before sliding home a shot from close-range past goalkeeper Zack Steffen. 

The U.S. struggled to find the back of the net for the second consecutive match, producing a handful of scoring chances following Friday’s a 1-1 draw with Guatemala. 

In fact, quality opportunities were at a premium for both teams. 

The USA had the first in the 17th minute as Emerson Hyndman fired a shot from distance that goalkeeper Jaime de Garcia knocked away.

Panama came close in the 35th minute. Ismael Diaz drilled a hard shot on goal, forcing Steffen into a kick save to keep the game scoreless. 

Each team has three group-stage matches left.  The U.S. meets Aruba (0-0-2, 0 points) on Wednesday while the Panamanians take on host Jamaica (0-1-0, 1 point), which faces Guatemala (0-1-0, 1 point) later on Sunday evening.