U.S. wins third straight, advances to CU20 playoff

Bradford Jamieson (#19) celebrates after scoring the only goal in the USA's 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship on January 21, 2015, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. (Photo: Mexsport)

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- Bradford Jamieson scored in the 78th minute to lift the United States to a 1-0 Group A victory over Trinidad & Tobago and into the playoff round of the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship on Wednesday.

The Americans, who needed a draw or a win at the Montego Bay Sports Complex to clinch the berth, finished the group stage at 3-1-1 and ten points (+10 GD), second to Panama (5-0-0, 15 points) on goal difference over Guatemala (3-1-1, 10 points, +4 GD).  Trinidad (1-1-3, 4 points) was eliminated. 

The U.S. will earn the top seed in the playoffs, which will be played on Saturday, if Honduras fails to beat Canada by nine goals or more on Thursday in Group B.  The winners of Saturday's playoff matches will clinch spots in the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand from May 30 to June 20.

"We kept working hard though some things didn't work out well for us in the beginning," Jamieson said, whose team won for a third consecutive time.

Jamieson experienced initial disappointment in his efforts to break the deadlock.

In the 49th minute, Emerson Hyndman sent in a free kick from the right side.  After the Soca Warriors failed to clear, Jamieson tried a point-blank attempt with goalkeeper Johan Welch out of the net.  Neveal Hackshaw blocked the ball off the line to preserve the scoreless tie.

The LA Galaxy youth standout, however, finally solved the defense in the 78th minute.  Junior Flores initiated the play with a quick counter that started at Trinidad’s penalty box.  He passed to Paul Arriola, who crossed in the ball from the right side.  Jamieson slotted it home into the lower left corner for his second goal of the tournament. 

"It's a big sigh of relief," Jamieson said.  "It's definitely something that we worked through.  My goal reflected the work of the whole team." 

Both sides had chances to score late in the match.

Only three minutes before Jamieson's decisive strike, T&T center back Leland Archer nearly netted during a scramble in the penalty area.

Hyndman, known predominantly for his playmaking and set pieces in this competition, almost gave the Americans a two-goal lead in the 85th minute, but Welch thwarted him with a tremendous save.