USA Men’s U-23 Team rolls over rival Mexico in soccer friendly, 3-0

April 23, 2015

Carson, Calif. – In a sparsely-attended international friendly U-23 soccer match between the USA Men’s National Team (MNT) and archrival Mexico, the USA earned a 3-0 shutout in devastating fashion to claim an easy walk-in-the-park victory at the StubHub Center.

Within the first minute of the game, striker Angel Zaldivar gave Mexico its first chance, blasting a shot at goal that was quickly saved by USA goalkeeper Cody Cropper to prevent a sure score.

From that point forward, the first half would be filled with a series of missed opportunities from both sides.

In the fourth minute, American defender Oscar Soto right-footed a beautiful ball center cross, only to have alert Mexican goalkeeper Luis Cardenas adjust perfectly to fist the ball out of scoring position.

In the ninth minute, Mexico was awarded the first corner kick of the match, but was unable to capitalize due to a horrible touch reception by midfielder Daniel Hernandez.

Things then became a bit testy, as American forward Mario Rodriguez would pick up a yellow card after fouling Mexico's Luis Solorio hard to the ground, causing him to spin as if he were breakdancing.

In the 27th minute, the USA's Joya missed a clear shot at goal, veering the ball far right.

Then, as if out of nowhere, in the 30th minute Mexican captain and striker Marco Bueno took on several USA defenders midway across the field which opened up a perfect one-on-one play with only the American keeper to beat.

However, Bueno was not able to capitalize on this precious opportunity when he missed the shot at goal by hitting the left post.  The crowd booed Bueno dearly for that miss.

The second yellow card of the match came at the 37th minute when the American midfielder Fatai Alashe stretched out his leg and injured Mexican midfielder Jorge Espericueta.  A third yellow card was given later to USA defender Shane O’Neil at the close of the 43rd minute.

Overlooked among all the fouls was the quality play of Cropper, who made multiple stops in the closing minutes of the half to keep things even at 0-0.

Although the second half began at a much slower pace, within three minutes the USA scored the first goal of the match with a sliding strike by forward Mario Rodriguez, who was assisted with a pass from teammate and captain Luis Gil.  It was a fantastic goal from a center cross that was superbly controlled and placed by Rodriguez to put the USA on top 1-0.

After this first score, it became obvious that the psyche of the Mexican team was severely affected, although this did not stop the relentless Mexican fans from drumming their encouragement throughout the remainder of the match.

In the 53rd minute, the USA came at the Mexicans full throttle with speed and power, and again nearly had another sure goal, but were not able to convert.

Inevitably, however, USA substitute defender Christian Dean would score the team's second goal when  he smashed in a header in the 58th minute.  The play was made thanks to a perfect pass from teammate defender Dillon Serna on an outer free kick sent smack into the center of the goal area.

The USA's Jordan Morris would add one more score for good measure in the 68th minute for a 3-0 advantage.

Mexico would have two more late chances, first in the 73rd minute when Zaldivar missed a well-placed header, and then later in the 84th minute when Hernandez missed another header that veered wide left.

The 3-0 victory gave the USA MNT U-23 team a 6-3-0 won-loss edge over Mexico since 1992.

The American U-23 team will next gather for the Toulon Tournament May 27-June 7 in Toulon, France, where the USA will face France (May 27), the Netherlands (May 29), Costa Rica (May 31), and Qatar (June 2)

News and Notes
  • Although the match drew a low attendance, the small crowd nevertheless was quite vocal, chanting songs and banging away with their percussion instruments.
  • The 20 players that USA U-23 MNT head coach Andi Herzog assembled were all from  California.  Nine players were part of the USA’s 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup team, and 11 players participated in the U.S. U23 camp in Europe this past March, which was highlighted by a 5-2 victory over Bosnia in Herzog’s first victory as head coach of the U-23 program.

By Felix I. Hernandez
Contributing Writer for

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