Dos a Cero: USA repeats as Concacaf under-20 men's champion with dominating win over Mexico

In its most impressive performance ever at the Concacaf Under-20 Men's Championship, the USA repeated as regional champion with a 2-0 win over Mexico in Wednesday's final in Bradenton, Florida.

Alex Mendez was the star for the USA, tying an American record with both goals in the final to give him eight goals in Concacaf qualifying and earning the tournament's Golden Ball as its best player, but he had an excellent supporting cast, beginning with FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal, who set up both goals.

Mendez, who recently left the LA Galaxy academy to sign with German club Freiburg when he turned 18, gave the USA a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. Pomykal, whose moves gave Mexico fits all evening from the USA's left wing, cut inside and put the ball on a platter for Mendez, open at the top of the box, to strike with his preferred left foot inside the right corner of the goal.

In the 50th minute, more dazzling moves by Pomykal pushed him inside after a run through midfield, but this time he played a one-two with Mendez, who slipped the ball past charging Mexican keeper Carlos Higuera for the second goal.

The USA had tons of chances, finishing with a 20-11 edge in shots. The best one fell to Mendez, who was denied a hat trick when he hit the post with a free kick later in the second half. Midfielder Frankie Amaya, one of two collegians in the starting lineup, Jong Ajax right back Sergino Dest and Pomykal continually unsettled the Mexican defense with runs through midfield.

Mexico, whose lineup included Club America's Diego Lainez, who had bedazzled the USA in the battle of senior national teams in September, had plenty of possession and grew in confidence late in the first half, drawing yellow cards from Akinola and Brandon Servania, but it didn't create many chances to get behind the backline marshaled by Mark McKenzie and Chris Richards between captain Matt Real and Dest.

Brady Scott -- winner of the Golden Glove as the tournament's best keeper -- made four saves, including a kick save on a header late in the first half. In the 62nd minute, Servania was on the line to clear a header away with his thigh and Scott out of his goal.

Best of Ramos' four teams. The win gives the USA victories over Mexico in back-to-back under-20 tournaments -- it prevailed, 1-0, the semifinal stage a year ago -- after losing eight of its previous nine meetings.

Ramos' 2019 team is easily the best of the four qualifying teams in terms of the soccer it played, let alone the results.

The USA finished with eight wins in eight games in the expanded Concacaf competition, outscoring its opponents, 46-2. After opening with easy wins over five CFU opponents, it beat Costa Rica, 4-0, to clinch a berth at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup in Poland, and Honduras, 1-0, to win its qualification group.

In qualifying for the 2017 Under-20 World Cup, the USA won the Concacaf tournament but not before losing to Panama, 1-0, in its opener, falling behind Haiti in its second game and needing a shootout to beat Honduras in the final after a scoreless draw.

Ramos has qualified the USA for the last four Under-20 World Cups. In 2015, the USA needed to beat El Salvador, 3-0, in a playoff game after finishing second in its group. In 2013, the USA lost to Mexico, 3-1, in overtime in the final played in Puebla, where the soccer it played was considered the best the USA has produced in Concacaf action.

That all changed Wednesday night.

Nov. 21 in Bradenton, Fla.
USA 2 Mexico 0. Goals: Mendez (Pomykal) 17, Mendez (Pomykal)  50.
USA -- Scott; Dest, McKenzie, Richards, Real, Mendez, Servania, Amaya (Llanez, 64), Akinola (Gloster, 82), Rennicks, Pomykal (Torres, 76).
Mexico -- Higuera; Alvarez, Sepulveda, Orona, Dominguez, Macias (Lopez, 80), Lainez, Hernandez (D.Lopez, 46), Leon, Plascencia, Meraz (C.Gutierrez, 74).
Att.: 3,500.

8 comments about "Dos a Cero: USA repeats as Concacaf under-20 men's champion with dominating win over Mexico".
  1. Tom G, November 22, 2018 at 9:57 a.m.

    nice result and encouraging performance. Long journey this is.  How do we grow the game when Its broadcast n only available in Spanish? 

  2. Nick Gabris, November 22, 2018 at 11:47 a.m.

    Big Congrats to the U-20's! T. Ramos for MNT coach. Has done a terrific job with all the youngsters over the years, knows all of them, strenghts and weaknesses.

  3. John Soares, November 22, 2018 at 2:25 p.m.

    Excellent game, too bad most of us could not see it.
    100 sport stations so many showing slug races.

  4. R2 Dad, November 22, 2018 at 2:52 p.m.

    "continually unsettled the Mexican defense with runs through midfield." Wow, it would seem that after seeing the USMNT completely unable to do this vs Italy and England, it would seem obvious we should be selecting field players that can do this. But No, the Nats silo continues to select the big/tall/fast guys (and girls) with low IQ and poor touch. But yay, they're excellent headers of the ball. /S

  5. don Lamb replied, November 23, 2018 at 10:43 p.m.

    This is ridiculous. Can you give more than an example or two where this is true? This is not a player selection problem -- the experienced players are just not there. This younger generation is much better, and we can thank the DA and MLS for that.

  6. R2 Dad replied, November 26, 2018 at 12:32 a.m.

    Player selection problem:

  7. Bob Ashpole, November 22, 2018 at 6:08 p.m.

    Comparing U20 to Senior competitions is going to be misleading. Clubs don't have to release professional players for the U20 competition so that means the best U20 players for each country are not available. For the major soccer countries it is sort of a B team competition. A professional club is unlikely to make first team players available even for the finals. 

    The U20 competition does give some indication of the level of player development in a country and the depth of its player pool.

  8. don Lamb replied, November 23, 2018 at 10:40 p.m.

    Bob - This was our B team for sure with the top 6-8 players left out. However, that was not the case for the other countries. Mexico did not have Gonzalez, but they did have Lainez.

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