The U.S. U-20 men's national team failed to win its first-ever regional title by falling 3-0 to Costa Rica in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship final. The game was played at Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad.
It was the third time the Americans advanced to the tournament's championship, also appearing in 1980 and 1982. Sunday marked the first CONCACAF Under-20 championship game since 1996.
The U.S. entered the game with a 10-game unbeaten streak in CONCACAF qualifying. However, U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen made eight changes from the starting lineup that won Friday night's semifinal game in a penalty shootout against Trinidad & Tobago.
Aaron Maund, Amobi Okugo and Billy Schuler all received their first starts of the tournament in the final, while Josh Lambo replaced Brian Perk in goal.
Diego Estrada opened the scoring in the 41st minute and second-half goals from Josue Varela Martinez and Allen Guevara secured the win for Costa Rica.
"We made a lot of changes tonight to try to put ourselves in a situation to be successful, but also to look at some players under pressure," said Rongen in a press release. "I'm disappointed in the loss but overall satisfied with the way we've played throughout the finals. Getting to Egypt was our primary goal here, we reached that and to reach a final is a very good accomplishment for a team that came together in a very short amount of time. We did some very good things, and I think this team will represent us well in Egypt."
The U.S., Costa Rica, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago are the final four countries from CONCACAF that will participate in the 24-team 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Asia will send four representatives in Australia, Korea Republic, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. Africa will have five teams, the hosts Egypt, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa. Europe will be represented by the Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Spain. Oceania sends Tahiti, while Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela will represent South America.