U-20 Qualifying: USA impresses in historic win over Mexico

The USA took a big step toward qualifying for the 2017 U-20 World Cup by opening the second round of the Concacaf U-20 Championship with a 1-0 win over Mexico on a goal by captain Erik-Palmer Brown.

The top two finishers of the three-team group that includes El Salvador earn World Cup bids. Mexico faces El Salvador on Wednesday. A U.S. tie or win against El Salvador on Friday will clinch a World Cup berth for the USA, which would also qualify with a with a loss on Friday if El Salvador beats or ties Mexico.

Results: Concacaf U-20 World Cup Qualifying

Mexico, which won the last three Concacaf U-20 Championship titles, in 2011, 2013 and 2015, hadn’t lost a game in the competition since 2009. It had only lost to the USA once before at the Concacaf U-20 level, in 1986 when Tony Meola was in goal.

Palmer-Brown put the USA ahead in the 29th minute with a 6-yard header from Brooks Lennon’s corner kick. Palmer-Brown’s strike, the first goal Mexico conceded at this tournament, marked the only penalty-area action of the first half, during which Mexico mustered a pair of futile long-range shots. For most of the first 45 minutes, the Americans succeeded in pinning the Mexicans in their own half.

"It felt great but I think what felt the best was the fact our team gave everything it had and didn’t really give options to Mexico to win the game," said U.S. coach Tab Ramos. "We know Mexico is always a high-scoring team. We know they always create a lot of chances. And we gave them very little if anything at all today. The team made an incredible effort and we got the result."

Shortly after the second-half kickoff, central defender Tommy Redding slid to clear a threatening low ball near goal area to deny Ronaldo Cisneros a shot — but it wasn’t a sign of a more lethal Mexican attack. Cisneros, who entered the game with a tournament-leading five goals, saw little of the ball and it wasn’t until the final minutes that the Mexicans, who finished the game without a shot on frame, had any sustained possession in the U.S. half. But even late in the game, it was the USA that came closest to scoring as Mexican keeper Jose Hernandez denied Coy Craft and Jonathan Lewis on breakaways.

"I think what was important for us is that tactically we wanted to push them from the start of the play," Ramos said. "We didn’t want them to feel comfortable at all in the game and I think the boys did a great job. It requires a big effort in order to not allow a team to play. And we did that today."

Feb. 27 in Tibas
USA 1 Mexico 0. Goal: Palmer-Brown (Lennon) 29.
USA -- Klinsmann, Fossey, Redding, Glad, Acosta, Palmer-Brown, Adams, de la Torre (Gutjahr, 90), Williamson (Lewis, 80), Lennon, Ebobisse (Craft, 57).
Mexico -- J.Hernandez, Cortes, Alvarez, Aguayo, Torres, Antena, Cervantes, Cordova (Lara 55), Aguirre (Zamudio, 78), Magana (Lopez, 46), Cisneros.
Referee: Melvin Matamoros (Honduras).

Stats: USA/Mexico
Shots: 8/3
Shots on target: 4/0
Saves: 0/3
Corner Kicks: 5/6
Fouls: 22/14
Offside: 1/4
Yellow cards: Alvarez (Mexico) 61, Palmer-Brown (USA) 90.

12 comments about "U-20 Qualifying: USA impresses in historic win over Mexico".
  1. Bob Ashpole, February 27, 2017 at 10:05 p.m.

    Well played and well coached. The entire team played very well. The US game plan neutralized Mexico's attack, and Mexico never figured out how to adjust. The officials did well too.

  2. stewart hayes, February 28, 2017 at 9:10 a.m.

    They came out and pressed high from the start and they kept it up all game. They did that very well and El Tri almost made some huge mistakes with weak passes by their backs. Mexico had more possession the second half but not much. They took some chances trying to equalize unfortunately the US team could not capitalize on two great counterattacks opportunities in the final 15 minutes. The team had a 2v1 and a 1v1 with the Mexican goalkeeper that were choked. Lennon has a mouth on him. He was complaining about everything, crying wolf far too much. The referee could easily have given him a card at one colorful moment early in the first half. The ref was restrained to his credit. The next one may not be.

  3. Walt Pericciuoli, February 28, 2017 at 9:54 a.m.

    Win or tie the next game, then we can celebrate. I've seen too many times our teams come up short in what should be the easy game. Come on boys, keep it tight.

  4. frank schoon, February 28, 2017 at 11:09 a.m.

    Bob,Although the US won this mud battle, it had little to do with soccer. I expect that the players who are nearing 20 to play better level of soccer for example in a positioning( on both sides) sense for it caused so much fighting and ball loss. Simple stuff like positioning was lost on either team. The first goal scored was an own goal by the right footed defender. On corners you NEVER place a right footed defender on the right post instead should be on the left post for then you're able to use right foot ,your best foot, to clear the ball going into the goal. This is basic stuff that should have been taught in travel soccer long time ago. Although it was a Mexican mistake ,I wonder if any of the American player are aware of this detail. When you take into account that our players are fast , why do his teammates run towards to help out ,only to bring all their opponents with them thereby reducing the flank player's space and effectiveness.Throw-ins , why do I see always players attempting to throw downfield to a crowd of players of both teams waiting for this ball , instead throwing it back upfield , usually to the back who is wide open and not marked. This is elementary kind of stuff you see in house league soccer. As a result the throw-ins results in mass brawl and no one knows the result of where that ball will end up. Diagonal crosses, switching the field aways from pressure were nowhere to be seen ,basically. Positioning square facing the sidelines to receive a ball again creates a lot fighting for there is a lack of overview as to the passing options. There was no off the ball ,but instead standing watching receive the ball to the feet. Bob, you mentioned 8 passes in a row....I didn't see that. But I'm willing to bet those 8 passes the backfield was involved , which to me are the easy ones, and are not counted as passes in my book. 8 passes in the opponent's half are real passes and I'm sure that didn't happen. The passing was atrocious on both teams. So much ball loss. The American have a bad as soon as they get the ball to run full speed with and losing control of it. They played like they drank too much coffee before the game. There is no-one on either side that settled the ball and passed the to an area for rest after the transition. The mexicans played dumb, trying to players on while outnumbered , sometimes 1v2 or 1v3. The #10 Lennon for the US on the left flank is quick but needs to work on such simple things as crossing the ball. Crossing skills at his age should be easy but lacks the ability of making a decent cross.

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, February 28, 2017 at 1:34 p.m.

    Oh what a surprise. Frank weighs in with how everyone sucks, has sucked and always will suck because they aren't as good as Cruyff. Boring!!

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2017 at 7:14 p.m.

    Thanks for the comments Frank. I agree with your points, but where we part is that I think the US game plan was good coaching. It relied on the US strengths (physical and mental) to neutralize Mexico's strengths (technical and tactical). Essentially the US made the field very big and isolated the Mexico players to eliminate their short passing game. The US essentially relied on a very direct attacking game. To a purist it is ugly soccer, but to a US coach and team wanting to beat a technically better team for the first time in 30 years, ugly has its own beauty. As for the 8 pass sequence, no it was not possession in the opponent's half. Mexico killed the sequence with a foul as soon as the play crossed the half line. That is why you didn't count it. I suspect a game plan based on possession and a more patient game would have favored Mexico in the immediate match.

  7. John Lander, February 28, 2017 at 11:35 a.m.

    Good win. Great result. They played great defensively, lots of hard working players with great pressure on the ball.
    But that's not new for US. That's the American fighting spirit.
    But boy was the attacking in the final 3rd poor!
    Time and time again the great defense lead to US wining the ball with time, space and numbers in the middle and final 3rd. We showed no creativity, passing combination, individual skill in attack. Break away after break away went to waist. The forwards and attacking players are of poor quality. slow, nonathletic, poor technical skills. We need goal generating attacking player.

  8. frank schoon, February 28, 2017 at 8:24 p.m.

    Bob, I'm not impressed with Mexico. Their players were too busy trying to take on the opponents when they were outnumbered. I remember in the 1st half a mexican on the flank try to take on 2 Americans with 2 more for back support..insane, obviously he lost the ball. This should have been drilled in to the head of these players that if you're outnumber at least 2 to 1 on the wing, you've actually done your job than pass the ball off quickly for someone else should be open.
    Technically , the mexicans were not better, if we're talking here about game technique. Because the US scored early in the game they weren't so pressured to score , unlike the Mexicans. Neither did both teams position properly off the ball for support. The Americans like the mexicans just didn't move well off the ball . They all played very stationary never taking a step or two towards the on coming pass in. Very ,very few passes were ever given ahead of the player into a space but instead right to the feet. The US team had usually about 9 players on defense, making it difficult for the mexicans for they needed to score. There is nothing wrong with playing direct soccer, or even playing a lot of long balls as long as if they are accurate or given into open spaces or on the run. Yes, the Americans packed it in and were successful because of how stupid the mexicans played.
    Whether the US beat Mexico or not is not important to me but how they play. I rather see them lose 2-0 and play a nice controlled game ,displaying good game technique, nice build up, able to make 3 passes in a row in the opponents half , nice cross passes to switch the field of attack and not run full speed with the ball like a chicken with its head cut off and lose it. For it is those types of details that show if they can play football.

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2017 at 10:31 p.m.

    These comments, particularly the comparison of the two teams, was what I was hoping you would say. I am a midfielder at heart so I understand your point about always passing to feet is not good. I am afraid that your observation about passing to feet is an unfortunately common interpretation of USSF inspired training. I don't think that is actually what Tab Ramos and others want, but it is what happens at some clubs. While sometimes an accurate pass to feet is not the best choice, it is also not the worst thing that could happen. I am not sure if you can teach a player the vision and anticipation resulting in knowing where to put the ball. If it is not obvious to someone that you want to pass so that the player's body is well positioned versus the marker and open to the field, then I don't think telling them so is going to help.

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2017 at 12:03 a.m.

    Frank, my pet peeve is similar. It is requiring players to always pass on the ground with the inside of the foot. The last time I tried to explain that passes on the ground are slower, have spin, and are less accurate, that players eventually need to learn how to pass the ball off the ground with no spin to play accurate quick passing combinations, the people thought I was crazy.

  11. frank schoon, March 1, 2017 at 11:03 a.m.

    Bob, your right about passing off the ground but that all depends on the condition of the field , i.e. length of the grass or weather. For example, Let us say the game begins at 5pm than you might get dew on the field or perhaps play in the shade of the field which means the ball will move faster or might skip due to any wetness. Taking that into account and you look at the opponents' midfielders age for the older they are it might become a little tougher for them.This is why it is good to know when the game is played and where and what time for that can influence the technique of how you the pass the ball. Furthermore Brazilians prefer to play in higher grass for the ball moves slower. So in sum it all depends on the conditions of how you apply the passing technique.

  12. MA Soccer, March 3, 2017 at 9:27 a.m.

    Great win and result. Well done boys!

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