Red Bulls Academy product Chris Lema came up big for the U.S. U-17 national team in this past weekend’s CONCACAF Championship opener, as he registered a brace in the side’s 3-0 win over Haiti.
The 16-year-old Ridgefield, NJ native notched his first tally on a calmly-finished penalty kick in the 26th minute to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead, one they maintained heading into the half.
In the second half, Corey Baird sent a cross toward the far post that was met by Rubio Rubin. The Oregon native delivered the ball to Lema, who one-timed it into the netting with a strong left-footed finish to the lower corner to round out the brace. Ahinga Selemani would register the final goal of the match in the 86th minute, when he broke in on goal after pick-pocketing a Haitian defender, enabling his slick finish that slotted under goalkeeper Cleef Cadet.
Lema, along with Red Bulls teammate and goalkeeper Evan Louro (South River, NJ), helped lead the club to a U-15/U-16 championship last summer. The duo was among four Red Bulls players added to the 2013 U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Residency Roster this past January, in addition to Steven Echevarria (Slate Hill, NY) and Wesley Wade (South Orange, NJ).
The big win over Haiti gave the U.S. an early lead in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship Group C standings. They’ll face off again on Apr. 11 when they take on the U-17 Guatemala side.