Three takeaways from USA-Mexico U-23s

The U-23 teams of Mexico, which won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, and the USA, which failed to qualify for the London Games, met on Wednesday in Carson, Calif., as part of their preparations for the October qualifying tournament for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. After a dismal first-half performance, the Americans stormed to a 3-0 win thanks to second-half goals by Mario Rodriguez, Christian Dean and Jordan Morris.

1. USA won't need a wild-card goalkeeper.

The Olympic tournament is a U-23 competition with each team allowed three overage "wild-card" players. If the USA qualifies for Rio, it shouldn't have to use a wild-card spot on goalkeeper, as it did in 2008 (Brad Guzan), 2000 (Brad Friedel) and 1996 (Kasey Keller) -- because 22-year-old Cody Cropper can handle the job, as he demonstrated from the get-go against Mexico.

Cropper made a diving save on a sharp 14-yard effort from Angel Zaldivar in the first minute. It was the first of Cropper's seven saves and he gets credit for the USA surviving a disjointed first-half effort without going behind. And based on Wednesday's performance, Cropper, who started for the USA at the 2013 U-20 World Cup before joining Southampton, looks to have outgrown his disturbing habit for berating teammates.

2. Jordan Morris displays key scoring skills.

A week after the 20-year-old scored his first full national team goal in the 2-0 win over Mexico April 15, the Stanford University sophomore struck against El Tri's U-23s -- the USA's final goal, in the 68th minute. Last week, he pounced on a deflected pass in classic goal-poacher style. With the U-23s, he received a high, fairly hard pass from Shane O'Neill and managed to lift his left-foot up in time to volley home.

Those two strikes came in the wake of Morris opening the scoring in the U-23s' 5-2 win over Bosnia & Herzegovina on March 27. That one was a well-placed, low right-footed shot in to the corner.

Evading markers, pouncing on loose balls, crisp finishes with either foot, quickness and speed, the proverbial being in the right place at the right time – Morris is displaying the key attributes of a lethal scorer.

3. Luis Gil’s leadership comes through.

Captain Luis Gil is one of the few players Coach Andi Herzog fielded who’s getting first-team action for his club. The 21-year-old has started five of six games he’s appeared in for Real Salt Lake this season.

Whatever the reasons for the USA’s second-half surge -- Mexico lost its rhythm after making three halftime subs -- Gil stepped it up impressively, beginning with the precise cross that Rodriguez finished to make it 1-0 in the 48th minute.

After Dean -- completely unmarked three yards in front of Mexico’s goal -- headed Dillon Serna’s free kick into the goal in the 58th minute, Gil helped up set up the third goal with a lofted pass that found O’Neill.

TRIVIA: The last USA-Mexico U-23 clash ended 2-0 in the USA’s favor in February of 2012 in Dallas on goals by Juan Agudelo and Mix Diskerud, but that U.S. team, coached by Caleb Porter, failed to qualifying for the Olympics.

April 22 in Carson, California
USA 3 Mexico 0. Goals: Rodriguez (Gil) 48, Dean (Serna) 58, Morris (O'Neill) 68.
USA -- Cropper; Sorto (Okwuonu, 68), Zimmerman (Dean 46), O'Neill, Serna (Ocegueda 81); Alashe, Guido (Villarreal 24; Metzger 40), Joya, Gil; Morris, Rodriguez (A.Hernandez 72).
Mexico -- Cardenas, Buron, Guzman, Solorio, Caballero (B.Hernandez, 46), Espericueta (Perez 59), Escamilla (P.Hernandez 46), D.Hernandez, Luna (Cisneros 74), Zaldivar, Bueno (Cota 46).
Att.: 3,782.

6 comments about "Three takeaways from USA-Mexico U-23s ".
  1. Mike Jacome, April 23, 2015 at 5:28 p.m.

    Well, usually Mexico plays the US with their C team, so we shouldn't analyze this petty victories I suppose...

  2. Santiago 1314, April 23, 2015 at 6:45 p.m.

    This could get to be Fun..!!! Rinse-Lather-Repeat at EVERY AGE GROUP.. (Re-Post from 4-15-15)..."@John B.,,, 3rd String???.. and ours wasn’t???... Mexico 3rd string is Not much worse than their 1st string… Just like ours…Just like everyone else’s.. Level of Players is 90-95% the same, World Wide…… And we should ALWAYS Brag about BEATing Mexico… They would, if the shoe was on the other foot… DOS A CERO is getting ingrained in their Defeatist Cultural Mentality(LA Times 6/16/02)… They expect to lose to the Gringos…It’s like they always say “Si, Se Puede” and yet they know they Can’t… We got players like Morris, THAT DON’T know any better… Watch the Kid, Lovejoy, at the Dynamo, He will be next on the scene… NO CLUE, but He makes things happen…"... TresACero...TresACero...TresACero!!!

  3. Joe Linzner, April 23, 2015 at 7:36 p.m.

    kids the real deal, not flashy just everywhere

  4. FRANCISCO VILLA, April 23, 2015 at 11:02 p.m.

    You guys crack me up. This was exactly the same reaction in exactly the same situation before last Olympics. USA won vs Mexico U23's in a friendly and failed to qualify for Olympics with what seemed to be a much more talented team than this one. But celebrate away. Be my guest. Arriba USA!!

  5. Rick Estupinan, April 24, 2015 at 3:12 a.m.

    This Mexican team that lost to the US,is the worst selection of players ever.They were just as bad as the American team,except that the latter plaid a bit better at time.In sum it was a mediocre game that will soon be forgotten

  6. Santiago 1314, April 24, 2015 at 3:08 p.m.

    When it comes to versus Mexico...JUST WIN BABY, WIN!!!... I Don't care if it's u12 or u23...We have to get in their Heads, If we are going to have a chance against their better Technique, Tactics and Traditions....

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