TIJUANA, Mexico — American striker Jack McInerney scored twice as Canada fell 4-2 to the United States on Thursday at the CONCACAF men’s under-17 soccer tournament.

In the first half, McInerney scored his first off a corner kick then added one more from 35 yards out to give the U.S. an early 2-0 lead. It was his seventh and eighth goals in four international matches this year for the U.S.

The loss puts Canada in a must-win position as it prepares for its game Saturday against Cuba. Only the top two teams in each division advance to the FIFA U-17 World Cup. Earlier in the week, Canada tied Honduras 1-1.

After the game, Canadian coach Sean Fleming praised his players for showing character against a tough opponent but admitted the team may be out of its depth.

“We don’t have the technical skills at the level of the international stage,” he said. “We have to get much more technically confident at all levels of the game.

“We’re not giving up.”

In the 38th minute, Canada failed to clear a U.S. possession and Joseph-Claude Gyau headed the ball past goalkeeper Richard Causton to increase the Americans’ lead to three.

Canada scored its first goal of the game in the second half, as Jaineil Hoilett of Brampton, Ont., turned with the ball in the box and fired a low shot under the American goalkeeper.

In the 84th minute, the U.S. benefited from an opportune bounce. Shortly after being handed a delay of game for failing to take a quick free kick, a U.S. shot was kneed off the short post by the Canadian defender, hit the cross bar and then apparently cleared. However, the referee rewarded the U.S. with a goal to make it 4-1.

Canada scored its second goal on a quick run, as Canadian substitute Coulton Jackson of Surrey, B.C., a member of the Vancouver Whitecaps, scored to cut the lead in injury time, but Canada would get no closer.

Canada is in Group A with Cuba, Honduras and the U.S.

Group B consists of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago.

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