Small comes up big for Panama in win over U.S.

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.