Brooks Lennon (pictured) scored three goals as the USA beat Haiti in a CONCACAF Under-20 Championship match on February 21, 2017, in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Straffon Images)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Any worries about a shock early exit for the United States at the 2017 CONCACAF Unser-20 Championship were dispelled with a three-goal in the second half of Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Haiti.
Despite the large margin of victory, it was a grind for the Americans, who dropped a 1-0 decision to Panama in the Group B opener on February 21.
“Certainly, we were affected by the first loss. We didn’t expect it, but when the boys come down here and participate in the tournament and realize that actually every win down here is difficult,” said U.S. head coach Tab Ramos, following the Haiti encounter. “Even the wins like tonight, when you see the scores at the end, it takes a lot of work to get to that point in games and I think the boys are starting to figure that out.”
The USA held the bulk of the possession in the first half, but ruthlessness in the final third was lacking. That was until Brooks Lennon netted the first of his three goals via the penalty spot to equalize in the 28th minute.
As the game wore on and adjustments were made, the Americans were able to exploit openings in the Haitian defense.
“The one thing we said at halftime was we wanted to play the ball a bit faster,” Ramos noted. “I think, at times, we played so slowly that if sort of gave Haiti opportunity to set themselves and defend well and not give us any space to penetrate. In the second half, we started to play the ball forward quickly and break lines. We found it easier to get opportunities.”
With the three points in the bag and a match against last-place St. Kitts & Nevis coming up on Friday, qualification to the next round is achievable.
Lennon, however, is taking nothing for granted.
“We’re going to progress every game that we play here and get better and better every time we step on the field,” said Lennon, who was recently loaned by Liverpool to Real Salt Lake. “I think we just need to keep playing together and keep moving forward and we’ll get wins.
“Now, we look forward to St. Kitts.”