Top 2 and we’re not 2.— U.S. Soccer YNT (@ussoccer_ynt) November 22, 2018
Raise that, boys! pic.twitter.com/64aVizWg8Q
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).