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Benji Joya

U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team
National Teams

Academy Alumni: McNamara, Joya Tally During MLS Opening Weekend Debuts

The 2014 Major League Soccer season kicked off over the March 8-9 weekend, and among the former Development Academy players, it was a memorable debut for two who squared off against each other on Sunday.

Chivas USA’s Thomas McNamara, formerly of FC Westchester, scored a goal in his first MLS match as the host team defeated the Chicago Fire 3-2 at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. He slotted a cross at the near left post to give Chivas USA a 2-0 lead in the 59th minute. McNamara was the 20th overall selection (first pick in the second round) by Chivas at the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.

“It was a dream come true, especially getting the win, as well, in a dramatic fashion like that,” McNamara said. “It was just an awesome experience – something that I’ll never forget.”

On the other side in that match, De Anza Force product and Chicago Fire rookie midfielder Benji Joya scored a goal off the bench on his very first touch. The former U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team player was a 63rd-minute sub, and within the first minute of his debut, tapped in the Fire’s first goal of the season to cut Chivas’ lead to 2-1. Joya captained two games at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship as the USA advanced to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.

“All I put in my mind was to get the debut, get a goal and get my name on the score sheet, and luckily the first touch I had turned into a goal,” Joya said after the match. “I’m really proud of that.”

SLSG Alum Bruin Records Brace: Houston Dynamo forward and St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri product Will Bruin scored two goals and assisted a Boniek Garcia tally during Houston’s 4-0 victory at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday.

Bruin’s brace and assist all came in the game’s first 23 minutes. It was Bruin’s fifth multi-goal game of his MLS career, and he now has 27 goals in 88 regular-season games.

Alumni Honored by MLS: Bruin and former Seattle Sounders FC Academy defender DeAndre Yedlin were each named to the MLS Team of the Week following the opening week of the season. Former Crew Soccer Academy midfielder Wil Trapp of the Columbus Crew also was recognized as one of seven players named to the bench in this weekly honor.

Miller Earns Early Call: Montreal Impact right back Eric Miller, the No. 5 overall selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft and former Minnesota Thunder Academy player, made his professional debut with the start and 90 minutes during the Impact’s 3-2 loss to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. Also in that match, PA Classics product Andrew Wenger scored a 65th-minute goal for Montreal to cut FC Dallas’ lead to one, but the Impact was held in check the rest of the way.

Miller’s counterpart, 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup teammate Kellyn Acosta, began his second season in MLS with the start at right back for FC Dallas. Acosta enters his second MLS season, coming off a 2013 rookie campaign where he started in 11 of 13 games and logged 1,004 minutes.

Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Mexico

Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. U-20 MNT vs. Mexico
March 3, 2013

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach TAB RAMOS
On the team’s effort against Mexico for a runner-up finish in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship:
“I’m proud of the effort they made. I’m proud that they were able to grow in a game like this. This is an experience that obviously we couldn’t pay for. There’s no way in the world we could travel to get a game against our rival in their country for a trophy. I think our players proved a lot. They got a lot out of tonight.”

On handling the Mexico-favored crowd:
“I have to give the players a lot of credit. This is their first time playing in a situation like this and they responded incredibly. They played a great game and I’m very proud of that. I see it more as here are some players that are coming up through our system who can do this, and I think that’s really important for us.”

On the team’s response to Mexico’s early goal:
“I think we did very well. This just shows the character of the players that we have coming up through the U.S. We’re not only playing in a difficult environment but we take a goal early and we take a goal when we’re attacking, and the players responded well. We got a goal back and we almost got another one right away. I’m very happy about the response of the players.”

On the team’s tired legs and Daniel Cuevas, who did not play because of an ankle injury:

“There’s no question with about 10 minutes left in the game, in regulation time, that I started to think about the possibility of making some changes to try to either win the game right at the end or start thinking also into overtime. If there was a possibility, I know that Daniel Cuevas really wanted to play. The doctor, we had a discussion during the game, and the doctor didn’t think it was a good idea. Daniel said ‘I really want to play.’ But that was one of those things where maybe we could have put him in for 10 minutes and I didn’t want to put him in the last 10 minutes of the game because then if we didn’t win we’d have to go to overtime and he couldn’t play for that long.”

U.S. Under-20 MNT goalkeeper CODY CROPPER
On the hard fought effort against Mexico:
“We’re disappointed with the loss, but there are a lot of pluses we can take away from this game and how we played. At times we played very well and I’m happy with everybody’s effort today. I’m proud of every single one of these guys.”

On responding to Mexico’s early goal:

“I think we did well to respond so quickly. We got ourselves back in the game, and possibly if we waited any longer we don’t get back in the game. Benji stepped up and took the penalty and put it away. That’s all we could ask from him.”

On the World Cup-like environment:

“It’s massive experience playing Mexico in Mexico. It’s a crazy feeling. You go out there and everybody is screaming at you. There’s nothing better than that to get you pumped up.”

U.S. Under-20 MNT midfielder BENJI JOYA

On Sunday’s effort against Mexico:
“We go home happy and proud. Our team gave it their all. We came to do our job and we did. The score didn’t go our way, but we never gave up.”

On responding from Mexico’s early goal with a game-tying PK:
“We gave up an early goal, and it was the same situation against Canada. The team didn’t put its shoulders down. We went out there and did our job. Scoring the PK was great. Shutting the whole crowd out was just amazing.”

On the environment and how it prepares the team for the World Cup:

“The World Cup is going to be much like this. We’re just going to continue working and we have to get used to this. We’re going to Turkey and it’ll be the same situation. We have a strong group mentally and physically, and we will continue with that and keep putting it to practice.”

On the players trudging through a 120-minute match and a thin bench:

“It was tiring, honestly. We’re humans. We get tired. But the last 30 minutes was just playing with heart rather than our legs and stamina and all that. I’m very satisfied with what the team did and what we accomplished tonight. We showed many people out there the U.S. has talent, and we’re going to keep working. Hopefully the World Cup goes great.”

Under-20s: Joya served as team captain for the semifinals and final during the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, where the U-20s finished runner-up to host Mexico. Joya scored a penalty kick goal in the title match on March 3 to tie the score at 1-1 - the first goal allowed by Mexic in the tournament. But the U.S. would eventually fall 3-1 in overtime. Heading into the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Joya has recorded two goals and two assists in nine games (all starts) while logging 782 mintues. In 2012, Joya was the lone U-20 MNT player to see time in all 10 games in 2012, posting two goals and an assist in 724 minutes. Joya’s first goal was a go-ahead tally against Chile at the Northern Ireland Milk Cup in July, but the USA settled for fourth place when Chile rallied for three straight goals. Joya added the game-winning goal of a 3-2 victory against Azerbaijan’s U-21 team at the 2012 Marbella Cup in October.

Joya signed with Santos Laguna in 2011 after a trial in June. From the beginning, Joya has played a regular role for Santos Laguna’s U-20 team, but recently he has trained more extensively with the first team as he looks for his first appearance at the top level.