U.S. U-20s thump Puerto Rico to open World Cup qualifying

Tab Ramos’ side cruised on Thursday in the first match of the Concacaf Championship.

The U.S. U-20 national team began Concacaf Championship play in emphatic fashion, crushing Puerto Rico 7-1 with five different players getting on the scoresheet.

Thursday’s match was the first of World Cup qualifying, beginning a gruelling run of five games in nine days.

Indiana University forward Justin Rennicks and Toronto FC product Ayo Akinola each netted braces on the day, leading the way for a strong debut match despite the absence of several highly-touted players like Josh Sargent, Tyler Adams, Timothy Weah and Jonathan Amon, all of whom recently featured for the senior team.

Rennicks opened the scoring just five minutes in while Freiburg’s Alex Mendez doubled that lead six minutes later to truly begin the onslaught.

FC Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal scored soon after, but Puerto Rico was able to pull back a goal before the halftime whistle.

The second half was even more comprehensive, with Akinola finishing off a Jaylin Lindsey cross in the 49th minute to restore the three-goal advantage with his first goal of the match.

Rennick’s second came in the 57th minute while Akinola completed his brace as well by heading home a cross from Ulysses Llanez.

It was the Llanez who capped off the victory with the seventh and final goal.

Even with the six-goal victory, the U.S. does not sit first in the group as a 13-2 victory over the Virgin Islands leaves Suriname as Group A leaders through the first round of games.

Trinidad & Tobago was victorious in the third and final game of the group’s opening round, scoring twice in stoppage time to secure a 3-2 win over Saint Vincent & The Grenadines in their opener.

Next up for the U.S. is a match against the Virgin Islands on Saturday before taking on Trinidad & Tobago two days later to reach the midway point of the group stage.

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