USA cruise to CONCACAF U-20 Championship quarterfinals

Salgado & co. one win from U-20 World Cup

Kelyn Rowe was all the United States U-20 side needed to defeat Panama 2-0 on Saturday night at the 2011 CONCACAF Championship in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

The UCLA forward tallied twice in the first 20 minutes, as the Americans finished the opening round of the tournament undefeated and unscored upon.

With the win, the USA easily finish on top of Group B. They will meet Guatemala in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, with the winner qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia this summer.

The USA opened the scoring in the 13th minute on a beautiful passing sequence. Sebastian Lletget back-heeled a pass down the line to an overlapping Greg Garza. The left fullback took a touch, then delivered a curling cross that flew over two attackers and two defenders before finding Rowe alone near the back post. The UCLA star volleyed the ball across the face of goal and into the back of the net.

Rowe made it 2-0 in short order, finishing another impressive team effort. Eder Arreola delivered a pass into the center of the field that Conor Doyle dummied to a waiting Lletget. The West Ham United midfielder put a perfectly weighted pass to his streaking forward, who deftly chipped Panama netminder Kevin Melgar with the outside of his right foot.

Gale Agbossoumonde was perhaps lucky not to concede a penalty in the 26th minute. After conceding a bad giveaway, the USA center back found himself stride for stride with Jairo Jiménez. The Panamanian made a move in the box that looked to beat his defender. There was contact, with Jiménez ending up on the ground, but Cuban referee Marco Brea ruled the attacker dove and showed him a yellow card.

USA U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen made two changes to the line-up that beat Suriname 4-0 on Tuesday. Sebastian Ibeagha started as Agbossoumonde's partner in central defense, with D.C. United's Perry Kitchen pushing up and replacing Philadelphia Union's Amobi Okugo in midfield. Arreola saw his first time on the left wing. Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker Omar Salgado and fellow MLS player Moises Hernandez were both substitutes in Saturday's win.