The US U-23 side took on Mexico’s U-23 side last night at the Home Depot Center in preparation for Olympic Qualifying in a match full of adrenaline and energy. At halftime the match was 0-0, but in the second half it was all about 1,2,3 for the young USMNT.
Uno A Cero…
Dos A Cero…
Y Tres A Cero!
Whatever coach Andi Herzog said at halftime worked. His side came out aggressively and played significantly better than they did in the first half. Perhaps bringing on Christian Dean at center back for Walker Zimmerman was the key, as the defense looked much more steady with Dean and Shane O’Neil playing together. Mario Rodriguez caused tons of problems for Mexico up top, making a great run to put away Luis Gil’s inch perfect ball to open the scoring, and barely missing a second when he beat multiple defenders and the keeper but was unable to finish a tricky opportunity. He and Jordan Morris were both very dangerous up top, and look to be a formidable pair when Olympic Qualifying starts. It’s possible that Morris has become Mexico’s boogeyman, scoring against them both at the senior level and U-23’s in a span of only 8 days.
Cody Cropper was huge in goal, coming up with multiple big stops, starting in the first minute. He alone helped keep Mexico scoreless on at least three occasions. Luis Gil caused problems for Mexico out of the midfield, playing a few marvelous balls. He looks to be a solid leader for this side going forward as they continue to prepare for qualification for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
The US finished the match with four yellow cards, while Mexico somehow ended up with zero. Some dubious refereeing at times in the match, and I was expecting one of the teams to finish with ten men, either the US to get a second yellow or a straight red for a Mexican player based on the intensity of the game and the overall level of chipiness. Fortunately the US worked through the inconsistency and kept their composure to pull out a nice win. Full match highlights in Spanish are below.