Photo by Rick Yeatts/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
With both the U.S. men's national team and U.S. women's national team claimed shutout wins, U.S. Soccer just needed a victory from Caleb Porter's Under-23 side to enjoy a dream leap year day.
Porter's team got that win and it did so in convincing fashion against a formidable foe.
The U.S. U-23 side cruised to a 2-0 win over rival Mexico's U-23 team at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Wednesday night, capping off a marquee day for U.S. Soccer and its fans.
The goals came a minute apart in the first half. Juan Agudelo knocked in a corner kick from Mix Diskerud in the 35th minute, and Diskerud followed that up with a goal of his own when he deflected a Freddy Adu shot from range that made its way into the back of the net.
The game wrapped up the U.S. team's February camp, the last one before Olympic qualifying takes place in March. The United States went 3-0 during its friendlies during this camp, ousting FC Dallas, 2-1, before topping NASL club San Antonio Scorpions, 3-0.
That string of positve outings was completed with a thorough triumph over Mexico's U-23 team. Playing in a 4-3-3 formation, the Americans outpossessed their southern foes from the opening whistle. Quick combination passes from the likes of Agudelo, Diskerud, Joe Gyau and Freddy Adu helped paved the way for the result.
The U.S. team was also pretty sound defensively, with Mexico really only threatening on shots from range. Led by captain Ike Opara, the Americans' defense outmuscled and outplayed an El Tri attack that included Mexican-American left back Miguel Angel Ponce and the highly-touted Marco Fabian.
Mexico picked things up late in the game, as Porter opted to make a flurry of substitutions. The Americans still managed to record the cleansheet, with Bill Hamid serving as the goalkeeper in the first half and Sean Johnson in the second.
With the Mexicans chasing for much of the game, the United States frustrated its opponent by keeping possession for large stretches, so much so that American fans at the stadium could be heard chanting "ole" on certain passing sequences.
The ability to keep possession eventually helped the Americans find their breakthrough. Ten minutes before halftime Diskerud served a corner kick from the left that Agudelo powered home past goalkeeper Liborio Sanchez, silencing the pro-Mexico crowd in attendance.
Diskerud then got a goal of his own when he slightly redirected Adu's shot from 25 yards out, resulting in fans chanting "dos a cero".
Porter now has tough decisions to make as he has to pick a 20-man squad for the start of Olympic qualifying on March 22 in Nashville, Tennessee.The U.S. team will play in Group A against Cuba, Canada and El Salvador.