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Post-Match Quotes: U.S. U-23 MNT 3, El Salvador 3

Post-Match Quote Sheet:
U.S. 3, El Salvador 3
2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying
March 26, 2012
U.S. U-23 Head Coach CALEB PORTER

Overall thoughts on the match:
“It’s a painful moment. The players are devastated. To put in as much as they put in that game, the amount of heart they put in, to play the way they played in that second half to come from behind and score two goals, to be seconds away from getting the No. 1 seed, it’s unimaginable. I told them in the locker room is that this won’t define their careers. As low as this moment is for them and as painful as it is, they’ve got big days ahead – a lot of those guys that were out on that field. That’s the future of our country. It’s sad that I’m not going to get a chance to be in the trenches with those guys anymore. They did everything I asked. They made some mistakes that cost us the game. The guys have long careers ahead of them. I’m proud of those guys and I know they’re going to do great things in the future. I’m sorry for our fans, sorry for U.S. Soccer that we didn’t get the job done. But there’s nothing to be ashamed about.”

On what he said to goalkeeper Sean Johnson:
“I just hugged him. Cried with him. What do you do? He’s feeling like he’s let everybody down, let his teammates down – he feels that way, and I told him he didn’t [let them down]. The kid’s got a big future, and he was very good in the game, and he’ll move forward from this. It’s going to be hard for some time, but these guys are young players, talented players. Are they perfect? No. They’re still learning, still growing, still maturing. But there will be some bright moments in these players’ careers. A good majority of them will be wearing the crest. And in some ways this will shape their character in a way that will help them achieve greater things in the future.”

On whether he has experienced an emotional swing like Monday:
“No. I’ve never felt anything like this in my life. That’s honest. I can tell you something different but as attached as I’ve gotten to those guys in four months, to see them not achieve – it’s not about me, and I’ve said that all along. I’ve told them that all along. It’s about them. I’m here to help them continue to evolve as professionals and help them achieve successful results and get to London. For me it’s painful that they have to suffer like this given what they gave in the second half. It’s unbearable. I’ll move on from this, as well. It’s going to take some time. In some ways I’m still in complete, utter shock. It was seconds away.”

On the team’s preparation for El Salvador:
“Our team was ready to play. You saw that from the opening whistle. It’s a good El Salvador team, though. They’ve got very talented young players on that team. I credit them, as well. They battled back. They wanted this bad, too.”

On the U-23 MNT as a whole:
“This was a tight team. Ask any of them. Very tight team, great spirit and chemistry in this group, and that showed in that second half. Were we perfect? Were they perfect? No. We all made mistakes. But they also played some pretty darn good football. They also showed a lot of the things that we’re known for in this country – the heart they showed, the passion they showed, the grit. They did everything that they needed to win the game. In my opinion they deserved better.”

U.S. captain FREDDY ADU
On mising a chance of qualifying for the London Olympics:
“I’m real disappointed. This is the lowest I’ve ever felt as a pro athlete. This is going to be hard to get over, but at the end of the day, things like this happen. You know, sometimes they make you stronger. For me, I never want to feel this way, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to never feel this way again.”

U.S. forward TERRENCE BOYD
On the team’s play following the loss to El Salvador:
“For us, it’s a nightmare right now because we’re the team that had the most quality in CONCACAF, in my opinion. It’s just a bad day for us, but we have to keep going. I’m proud of my team, and for the first time I really felt what it’s like to fight for your country.”

“It was an amazing game for the fans, I think. Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify for the Olympics. Life goes on, and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of these guys at the World Cup in Brazil.”

On El Salvador’s last goal:
“This is soccer. At the end, it’s just a game, but it hurts. Sometimes it’s the best thing you can do, and sometimes it’s the worst sport ever. It just hurts. For us, it’s like the world just ended. We lost as a team, and it’s just sad really. Life goes on.”

U.S. defender PERRY KITCHEN
On the final moments of the match:
“We knew what we had to do. We needed three points, and we had it. It was there. And in 90 seconds, we lost it, so it’s tough to swallow. It’s a cruel game, and the coaches told us to keep our heads up because we’re a really strong team. We were a family, and it hurts. But all of us have bright futures. We’re trying to keep our heads up. It’s going to hurt for a while.”

On the U.S. U-23 MNT team:
“We became a family over the four months. He loves all of his players, and it’s tough for him to see us go down like this. He knows how hard we’ve worked and how hard we’ll continue to work. He told us to stay in touch and that he appreciates all the work that we’ve put in for him.”

Bouncing Back - Resilient and Ready

International football history is littered with examples of something that is often taken for granted about group play: no matter the teams, no matter the order, it usually takes all three games to guarantee your place in the knockout phase.

Who can forget the 2002 World Cup, when the U.S. was 17 minutes away from being eliminated before Korea scored the game-winning goal against Portugal and the team went on to defeat Mexico in the Round of 16? Or most recently, Landon Donovan’s 91st-minute goal against Algeria that not only put the U.S. through, but also allowed the team to win their group for the first time in U.S. Soccer history?

For the U-23 MNT, the situation is clear: a win and they are through to the semifinals.  To have your fate on your own hands is what every team hopes for, and this group appears up for the challenge.

“Guys are good,” said U.S. head coach Caleb Porter. “They put yesterday behind them, and they are focused on El Salvador. They are looking forward to getting back on the field. The game can’t come quick enough.”

U.S. captain Freddy Adu, who was part of the 2011 Gold Cup team that rebounded from a group phase lost to Panama and reached the final of the tournament, puts tomorrow’s game in the simplest perspective.

“Tomorrow is our final, and everybody understands that,” Adu observed.  “We know what we have to do to move on. Guys look motivated.”

Adversity is a part of any tournament and with loads of experience in youth international championships on this U-23 squad, the players have been through this before.

“It’s important to be able to respond in the right way because you’re going to go through adversity, and you have to have a short memory,” said Adu. “We’re going to work hard to right the ship.”

Ultimately, the focus and the belief within the U.S. team remains the same. And Porter firmly believes it will be on display Monday against El Salvador.

“We’re confident in our team,” Porter added. “The players are confident that we can get the job done. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to get the result tomorrow.”

Post-Match Quotes: U.S. U-23 MNT 6, Cuba 0

Post-Match Quote Sheet
U.S. U-23 MNT 6, Cuba 0
2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying
March 22, 2012

U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team head coach CALEB PORTER
“We’re obviously pleased with the strong start, but we’re also not satisfied with the performance. Even though the result was lopsided, I still thought it could have been better. Early in the game we were a little bit shaky in the buildup. The defending could have been a little tighter. It’s a little bit to be expected in the first game of the tournament. It’s been a long wait for this first game, and I think that showed a little bit in the nervousness out of a few guys. The nice thing is they settled in. You saw in the second half it was sharper, the defending was better, and you could see what we are capable of doing when we play quickly, the spacing is good, and the ball moves. I thought we put together some very attractive sequences and it was very effective, and I think we’ll get better and better as the tournament goes on. We’ll keep grounded on this one, file it away, and get ready for Canada.”

On whether the 6-0 result was a result of superior play or the red card to Cuba early in the game:
“Clearly the red card played into the game, but I would have liked to think we would have still played in a similar way. A lot of teams, even up a man, don’t move the ball as well as we did. Even when we’re even numbers, we’re a team that likes to possess the ball, and now when we’re up a man it was nearly impossible for them to get us off the ball. We leave the game with a realistic perspective. We win the game 6-0, but there’s a red card and in the early stages it wasn’t as good as it needed to be.”

On what he saw in Joe Corona that earned him a place in the lineup:
“We’ve had Joe in every camp, so I’ve seen him every day in training. Really for me, the light bulb went on in the Costa Rica portion of our camp in January. We played two matches in Costa Rica, and we had the midfield we had today with Jared [Jeffrey], Mix [Diskerud] and Joe starting in the game against Alajuela. I thought for me it just felt good. It felt right. Mix and Joe are quality players and very technical. The nice thing about all three of those guys is that they are three of our most fit guys on the team, with tremendous range, and get around the field. Not only are they technical and intelligent tactically, they’re also honest defensively. I thought they were a little soft in the first half as a group. They could have been a little bit harder in the middle of the field. A lot of that too had to do with the pressure at times from the front guys, and also the back four keeping things compact. In the second half it was much better.”

On how much the lineup will change with three games in five days:
“We’re going to be smart with how we manage our group from game to game. We’re going to look at our team after each game and assess where we’re at physically. Ultimately we want to try to get three points from each game, but also be smart in how we manage the rigors of this difficult format. We’re going to take some time to consider the group, and look at Canada as well.”

On how much he saw of the Canada game tonight:
“I didn’t really see much of it. We’ve got some good scouting reports on Canada. We’ll look at them tonight and start to digest their team. Right now with our guys is more about physically recovering. We need to give them time mentally. I like to give them tonight to enjoy, and tomorrow it’s behind us and it’s back to work.”

On taking out Juan Agudelo at halftime:
“We wanted to be smart. We’re up 4-0 at the time and we want to be smart about how we manage the game. He also took a knock, so we didn’t want to take any risks. We also have a lot of confidence in our bench. We have a lot of depth, and we know we can put guys in the game and the level will stay right where it is.”

On what he said to the team at halftime to avoid a letdown:
“Exactly what I said before. We’re going to keep it in perspective. We’re going to stay grounded. This is a long tournament. You’ve got to keep your highs low and your lows high. We need to keep this high a bit low, and understand I’m happy and pleased that we got the result. It’s a good start, but we need to be better. That will be the message. The nice thing is that I don’t really need to harp on that, because they know it. These guys have very high standards. They know what they’re capable of. I’ve seen it, and you saw it for some periods today. When we move the back quick and we put together our combination play and accelerate it at the right times, it was pretty special.”

On the play of Freddy Adu, and his goal:
“It was a great finish. He’s really flourishing in the way we’re playing. We like him on that right side, but he comes inside as a second attacking midfielder at times and finds pockets of space. It’s difficult to pick him up in that kind of position because he can sit in seams and between the layers. He’s tough to deal with. He’s very technical. He can play a final pass, and he can score. On the other side you have Brek Shea, who is just an absolute horse. You’ve got two very different types of guys, which makes it difficult to deal with, and then you’ve got Juan Agudelo up top who is also a handful. You’ve also got guys of the bench who bring a different dimension. We’ve got some dangerous guys in the attack. We’ve just got to make sure we continue to keep things tight defensively. I thought they had a few more chances on counters. Maybe to everybody else it didn’t feel like that they had a lot of the ball, but we want to win the ball back within six seconds, and I thought they had a little bit more of the ball in the first half then we wanted them to.”

On the play of Juan Agudelo:
“I thought he did great. He scored a goal, and the own goal he was right there as well. At the end of the day, he’s started two games for us and has two goals – Mexico and this game. So that’s pretty good production.”

U.S. midfielder and ussoccer.com Man of the Match JOE CORONA
On how he is fitting in with the team:
“I feel very good. The coaches and players have received me very well. I have a lot of confidence. I feel like I’m at home. The players are very good teammates. I’m happy.”

On playing under U.S. U-23 head coach Caleb Porter:
“He lets me be free on the ball, and that’s something that helps me a lot because I feel like I’m that type of player. I feel good.”

On the team’s defense and start to Thursday’s match:
“In the beginning we were a little sketchy, and we could have come out with a little bit more confidence. The players that we have are very good technically, and smart.”

On the team’s technical ability:
“I think that’s the strength of the team. We have a lot of players from all over the world, and I think that everyone gives it their own taste of soccer. That’s very important for us, and Caleb likes that.”

U.S. midfielder and team captain FREDDY ADU
On his first game as team captain:
“It was great. It was nice walking out there as the captain of the team. It’s a great honor, obviously, and it was nice to get this first game out of the way. That’s a game you always look forward to. Guys are a little bit nervous, but it was nice as soon as we played the first 15-20 minutes, we settled down and we started playing a little bit.”

On the first goal by Joe Corona:
“It was huge. Playing a team like Cuba, they defended pretty well. They sit behind the ball and they work hard moving side to side and defending. As soon as you get that first goal, it’s a huge sigh of relief because the game is going to open up. Now they have to come out and play.”

On his goal:
“As soon as it left my foot, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ I just hit that as clean as you could hit it, and luckily it was on target and to the corner as well. Definitely one of the best goals I’ve scored.”

U.S. forward BREK SHEA
On assessing Thursday’s game:
“We won 6-0 and we were fortunate to go up a man early on. We still looked shaky, and there were times where we had no pressure and we still lost the ball. I think [Porter] knows we’re a better team, and I think we know we’re a better team. We have more games coming, so we better get ready for them.”

U.S. forward JUAN AGUDELO
On the team gelling on the pitch:
“We just tried to transfer what we did on the practice field to the game. I feel like in our last friendly against Mexico we all started to gel around the midfield, and everybody was just playing as a team.”

On the next match against Canada:
“We’ll do recovery things to get the legs back, and just focus on our style of play. I feel that if we play our game, we can beat any team.”

U.S. midfielder MIX DISKERUD
On the team’s playing style:
“It’s the best thing there is. I love this style of playing soccer. Caleb wants us to play like that, and we want to play like that ourselves. We are technical players and we want to keep the ball. We played how we wanted to play. I think it’s fun for the crowd to watch, as well. 

U.S. U-23 Men's National Team Starts Group A of Olympic Qualifying with Victory Against Cuba

  • Agudelo Adds First-Half Goal; Adu Powers Home Second-Half Strike from Distance
  • Bill Hamid Earns Shutout in Goal for USA
  • U.S. U-23s Will Continue Group A Play Against Canada on March 24 at LP Field at 7 p.m. ET on Universal Sports Network, mun2 and CONCACAF.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 22, 2012) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team opened the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament with style and substance, getting a hat trick from Joe Corona, one goal from Juan Agudelo, one from team captain Freddy Adu and an own goal in a 6-0 victory against Cuba to open Group A play.

“We’re obviously pleased with the strong start, but we’re also not satisfied with the performance,” U.S. head coach Caleb Porter said. “Even though the result was lopsided, I still thought it could have been better. Early in the game we were a little bit shaky in the buildup. The defending could have been a little tighter. It’s a little bit to be expected in the first game of the tournament. The nice thing is they settled in. You saw in the second half it was sharper, the defending was better, and you could see what we are capable of doing when we play quickly, the spacing is good, and the ball moves. I thought we put together some very attractive sequences and it was very effective, and I think we’ll get better and better as the tournament goes on. We’ll keep grounded on this one, file it away, and get ready for Canada

The U.S. team is attempting to qualify for the 2012 Olympics and this tournament will send its top two finishers – the winners of the semifinal matches – to London. In order to make that all-important semifinal, the U.S. will need to finish among the top two in its group and went a long way toward accomplishing that goal while accruing a nice edge in goal difference with the rout of Cuba. Canada and El Salvador tied 0-0 in the first Group A match of the evening.

The U.S. and Cuba squared off in the opening match of Olympic Qualifying for the second consecutive cycle, but the U.S. put together a much more impressive result than four years ago when the two countries tied 1-1 in 2008 in Tampa, Fla., with Adu scoring the USA’s lone goal.

U.S. head coach Caleb Porter sent out a starting 11 featuring eight players from Major League Soccer in a 4-3-3 formation, with Agudelo at center forward and Adu and Brek Shea running the wings. The Americans did well to interchange positions as they attacked at pace all night against the overmatched Cubans, with Corona and Agudelo consistently getting themselves into dangerous spots during the first half.

Five players in the starting lineup have at least one cap with the full National Team – Adu, Agudelo, Mix Diskerud, goalkeeper Bill Hamid and Shea – and it showed as the U.S. team dominated the action against a Cuban team that at first tried to sit back and defend, but then found itself a man down after 20 minutes and under siege.

The U.S. scored its first goal in the 11th minute after defender Kofi Sarkodie earned a foul about 45 yards from the goal when he was undercut by a Cuban while winning a header. Adu spun the free kick into the box, which was won on the punch by goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper, who collided with Agudelo on the play. The powerful U.S. forward did just enough to cause Cooper’s punch to be short and it fell to Corona, who collected the ball on his chest and calmly struck a full-volley into the lower right corner from 10 yards out.

Cooper had the wind knocked out of him and stayed down for several minutes while receiving medical attention before Cuba kicked off.

In the 19th minute, Cuba suffered a blow to its Olympic dreams after defender Dairo Macias inflicted two blows to the face of Agudelo. As the U.S. striker turned up the right side of the field inside his own half with Macias in tow, both were chasing a ball and arm battling. Agudelo tugged Macias first, who then responded with a slap across Agudelo’s face with his left hand and then a straight elbow to Agudelo’s jaw with his right. Referee Roberto Garcia did not hesitate to pull out the red card and sent Macias to the showers, forcing Cuba to play the final 70 minutes a man down.

In the 25th minute, a wonderful build-up got Shea open in the right side of the penalty area. Agudelo was wide open inside the box, but a last-second slide from Dayron Blanco saved a goal as he managed to turn the ball just outside the left post.

In the 27th minute, Corona pushed forward again and got his head on a chipped cross from Adu from the left side, but sent the ball just outside the left post.

The USA would then put the game away with three goals in six minutes at the end of the first half.

The second U.S. goal came in the 37th minute off a quick restart that Diskerud took short to the left flank. Shea collected down the wing and quickly spun in a perfect cross to Agudelo, who beat several defenders with a hard run and pounded home a header from right on the six-yard line, sending his powerful shot into the center of the goal past the helpless Cooper.

It was Agudelo’s second goal for the U-23s in as many games, after scoring the winner in the USA’s 2-0 win against Mexico on Feb. 29.

The USA pushed its lead to 3-0 three minutes later as the team once again broke down the Cuban defense on the left flank. Shea crossed, but the ball was poorly cleared and fell to Diskerud, who collected at the top of the box to the left of the penalty arc. He won the ball in front of a sliding defender as he dribbled into the penalty area and then froze another defender with a fake before playing a square pass through the box to Corona. The U.S. midfielder hit his shot first-time from 12 yards, albeit not hard, but with the outside of his right foot and with perfect accuracy into the lower right corner of the net.

The USA made it 4-0 via an own goal in the 43rd minute as Shea raced down the left side once again as his defender slipped. He tried to squeeze a short cross to the crashing Agudelo, but Arturo Diz Pe (who came on in the 24th minute after Cuba had to adjust its personnel following the red card) stepped into the passing lane and swung wildly in an attempt to clear the ball. Unfortunately for Cuba, Diz Pe whiffed with his right foot and the ball hit his left leg and bounced into his own goal.

Teal Bunbury replaced Agudelo at halftime and almost scored just seconds later, racing onto a long ball over the top and firing low with a defender on his hip, but Cooper came out to make a fine save on the slide. Cooper was injured on the play in a collision with his own defender and once again needed medical attention before rising to finish the game. Bunbury also got in behind the defense during the 80th minute, but Cooper denied him again with a brave sliding save.

Cuba’s only chances came in the 23rd minute, when the speedy Heviel Cordoves earned a foul near the top of the U.S. penalty area as Perry Kitchen grabbed some jersey but Maikel Chang fired high, and then in the 44th minute when Hamid made his only save of the match, securely catching a shot from distance.

Adu made it 5-0 in the 62nd minute as central defender Ike Opara burst in front of a Cuban to win a ball and it rolled to Adu about 25 yards from the goal. With no wasted motion, Adu collected and turned with one touch before drilling a left-footed rocket into the right corner of the net past the diving Cooper.

After the fifth goal, any energy the Cubans had left seemed to drain away and the U.S. team salted away the remaining time with some crisp possession, some of which led to the final goal and Corona’s hat trick. Diskerud and Corona played a series of give-and-goes into the penalty box on the right side and Corona’s first-time shot from 16 yards took a deflection off the toe of a sliding Cuban defender and settled into the lower left corner.

The goals were the first for Corona at any level of the U.S. youth national teams.

Additional Match Notes:

  • In addition to sending on Bunbury at halftime, U.S. U-23 MNT head coach Caleb Porter also sent on Joe Gyau for Brek Shea in the 57th minute and Amobi Okugo for Jared Jeffery in the 64th.
  • The win was the USA’s largest margin of victory and most goals scored since a 7-1 thrashing of Panama in Olympic Qualifying on July 20, 1991.
  • Corona’s hat trick was the second in the last three U.S. National Team games in the Music City. Jozy Altidore netted all three goals in a 3-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago during a World Cup Qualifier at LP Field on April 1, 2009.

-- U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team Game Report --

Match : U-23 Men’s National Team vs. Cuba
Date: March 22, 2012
Competition: 2012 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying
Venue: LP Field; Nashville, Tenn.
Kickoff: 8 p.m. CT
Attendance: 4,269
Weather: 65 degrees, cloudy

Scoring Summary:             1              2              F
USA                                     4              2              6
CUB                                     0              0              0

USA – Joe Corona                                                       11th minute
USA - Juan Agudelo (Brek Shea)                                  37
USA - Joe Corona (Mix Diskerud)                                    40
USA - Arturo Diz Pe (Own Goal)                                       43
USA - Freddy Adu (Ike Opara)                                          62
USA - Joe Corona (Mix Diskerud)                                    88

Lineups:
USA : 1-Bill Hamid; 3-Kofi Sarkodie, 2-Ike Opara, 4-Perry Kitchen, 5-Zarek Valentin; 6-Jared Jeffrey (16-Amobi Okugo, 64), 8-Mix Diskerud, 10-Joe Corona; 7-Freddy Adu (capt.), 9-Juan Agudelo (12-Teal Bunbury, 46), 11-Brek Shea (14-Joe Gyau, 57)
Subs not used: 13-Jorge Villafana, 15-Terrence Boyd, 17-Tony Taylor, 18-Sean Johnson, 19-Sheanon Williams, 20-Michael Stephens
Head Coach: Caleb Porter

CUB : 1-Odisnel Cooper, 2-Yoisel Salazar, 4-Dairo Macias, 5-Renay Malblanche, 6-Osay Martinez, 8-Jorge Farinas (15-Arturo Diz Pe, 24), 10-Maikel Chang, 13-Carlos Domingo Francisco (capt.), 14-Aricheell Hernandez (7-Ricardo Pena, 68), 16-Heviel Cordoves, 17-Dayron Blanco
Subs not used: 3-Yosmel De Armas, 9-Felix Guerra, 11-Daniel Saez, 12-Julio Pichardo, 18-Maykel Reyes
Head coach: Raul Triana Gonzalez

Stats Summary: USA / CUB                                           
Shots: 17 / 4
Shots on Goal: 7 / 1
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 8 /2
Fouls: 10 / 8
Offside: 1 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
CUB – Dairo Macias (ejection)                         19th minute

Officials:
Referee: Roberto Garcia (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Rangel (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Dion Neil (TRI)
Fourth Official: Jafeth Perea (BAR)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Joe Corona

U-23 Midfielder Freddy Adu Takes on Veteran Role

The only returning member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic squad builds on that experience to lead this year’s team for 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying and potentially the 2012 London Olympics.

Freddy Adu typically has been the “prodigy” on any roster he has played on – the next generation talent among a normally older group. But that changes completely as the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team prepares for 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, with Group A play kicking off Thursday, March 22, against Cuba.

Adu is the only returning member of the USA’s 2008 Olympic team, so the 22-year-old now has heightened responsibilities and is expected to bring the necessary leadership of a former Olympian.

“It’s a different role,” Adu said. “I’ve always been one of the youngest guys on the team. But now I’m one of the older guys, one of the more experienced guys, and I have to be more of a leader. The guys are looking up to me, asking me questions and looking at me to step up.”

During the 2008 qualifying, Adu was the team’s primary offensive force as he scored four goals in three matches. It was a successful stretch that Adu hopes he will build on for this year’s qualifying and potentially the 2012 London Olympics.

“It really did help me a lot, big time,” Adu said. “It gave me confidence as a player, and thinking back on having a successful qualifying tournament, albeit four years ago, you still know that you’ve been through it and know what to expect. To just know that you did well during qualifying helps you get your confidence going.”

When the U.S. defeated the Mexico U-23 team 2-0 on Feb. 29 at FC Dallas Stadium, it was evident during the first half that U-23 head coach Caleb Porter sees Adu as one of the focal points in developing offensive chances and maintaining a high level of possession.

“Caleb wants me to be a leader and wants me to have a big responsibility with this team,” Adu said. “He wants to run through me and get touches and be a big part of the offense. I’ve always got to bring it and be ready to go.”

The USA has an assortment of attacking options, and Adu’s presence likely will be based mostly in the midfield.

“I’ve been used on the right side as an inverted winger and sometimes as a No. 10,” Adu said. “It depends on how the game is going, as well, so I have to be ready. Wherever he puts me, a lot is asked of me in playing different roles. It’s not different in the sense that if I am out wide, I’m more pinched in anyway to be a second playmaker. It’s something in the back of my head.”

Adu is relishing Porter’s 4-3-3 system and says it completely suits the dynamic among the team.

“I absolutely love it. It’s very attacking and he gives you freedom, as well,” Adu said. “He lets us breathe and enjoy it. We’re not a bunch of robots out there. When we execute our game plan, it’s going out and moving the ball, a lot of movement, being fluid and not being restricted to one side of the field. And as you’ve seen so far, this team has the players for that. We just attack it and there’s a lot more possession.”

The U.S. opens group play against Cuba at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. It is a venue and environment Adu is familiar with, having played the final two games of 2008 qualifying there. On March 20 of that year, Adu scored twice during a 3-0 semifinal victory against Canada that qualified the USA for the Beijing Olympics.

“The pitch was absolutely great when we played here against Canada [in 2008],” Adu said. “The fans were great. We had a pretty good crowd for the games and the support was absolutely amazing. So I think this year will be something similar to that. I’m excited to be here. The last time here I scored two goals against Canada. I have good memories from this place.”

While the USA touts its possession-driven game plan, the team prepares for a Cuba team that could be looking more at capitalizing with counterattacks.

“We do know that Cuba might sit and try and counter against us,” Adu said. “We have to be careful and not give away the ball too easily and not push to where they can counter, as well. Right now we really have to worry about ourselves and our game and impose our will.”

U.S. Under-23 MNT Defeats Mexico 2-0

  • Diskerud Nets Goal, Assists Agudelo Tally in First Half
  • U.S. Goalkeepers Hamid, Johnson Combine for Clean Sheet
  • U-23s Prepare for CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Starting March 22 against Cuba at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

FRISCO, Texas (Feb. 29, 2012) – Juan Agudelo and Mix Diskerud scored back-to-back first-half goals in a span of a little more than one minute as the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team defeated Mexico’s U-23 National Team 2-0 during Wednesday’s international friendly at FC Dallas Stadium.

It was the U.S. U-23 squad’s first international match since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and U-23 head coach Caleb Porter’s team had an assertive effort against Mexico as it prepares for CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying in late March.

“We knew this match would be a challenge and we have much respect for Mexico as a soccer playing country,” said Porter. “One of the reasons we wanted to play this game prior to qualifying was to get some questions answered and measure ourselves. I’m very proud of the guys and looking forward to qualifying.”

Agudelo started the scoring with a header off of a set piece in the 35th minute as Diskerud delivered the corner kick from the left side. Agudelo headed the ball toward the left side of the goal frame as Mexico goalkeeper Liborio Sanchez and a defender were in the area. The shot squeezed in between both Mexico players and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Diskerud then gave the U.S. a 2-0 cushion in the 36th minute as he slightly redirected Freddy Adu’s strike from distance and the ball found the inside of the right post. It appeared the goal was Adu’s from 26 yards out, but closer inspection showed that it was Diskerud who stuck his right foot backwards and put a slight touch on the ball before it found the net.

Porter’s side went with a 4-3-3 formation, and the U-23s demonstrated some good attacking moments and spells of strong possession. There was a two-minute stretch from the 14th to 16th minutes when Mexico could not get a touch on the ball.

Even when the U.S. was not getting shots on goal, the team was hovering inside the box. In the 49th minute alone, Agudelo and Joe Corona both had strong opportunities for a shot on net but both players took one too many touches as Mexico’s defense cleared on both occasions.

Mexico had a difficult time creating scoring chances in the early going, but in the 22nd minute Ricardo Bocanegra hit a deep volley from more than 20 yards out that was bound for the left side of the goal frame. U.S. goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who earned a shutout earlier this year with the U.S. Men’s National Team against Venezuela, was up to the task as he dove to his right to make the clutch save.

Porter took the opportunity to give some of his second-half subs significant playing time. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who played in the second half of the senior team’s 1-0 victory against Panama earlier this year, played the second 45 minutes on Wednesday night. Johnson was tested in the 62nd minute, reacting well for a save against Mexico’s Ricardo Mier, who headed the ball toward the net off of a Javier Aquino corner kick.

The U.S. defense caught a break in the 72nd minute when USA defender Zarek Valentin came into contact with Mexico’s Marco Fabian in the box. Fabian went down to the ground, and referee Dave Gantar rushed in to show Fabian a yellow card for diving.

Porter switched up his three-man front line in the second half. U.S. starters Agudelo, Adu and Joe Gyau were substituted out in place of Teal Bunbury, Tony Taylor and Dilly Duka.

With the U.S. U-23 team’s win, it completed a Leap Day tripleheader sweep for U.S. Soccer. Earlier in the day, the U.S. Women’s National Team blanked Denmark 5-0 to open the Algarve Cup, followed by the U.S. Men’s National Team that earned its first victory against Italy with a 1-0 decision in Genoa.

The U.S. U-23 MNT now looks forward to 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, with the group stages taking place March 22-26 at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. The U-23s face Cuba at 9 p.m. ET on March 22, and the match will be broadcast live on Universal Sports Network and Telemundo.

-- U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team Game Report --

Match: U-23 Men’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: Feb. 29, 2012
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: FC Dallas Stadium – Frisco, Texas
Kickoff: 9 p.m. CT
Attendance: 7,432
Weather: 70 degrees, balmy

Scoring Summary:    1    2    F
USA                           2    0    2
MEX                           0    0    0

USA - Juan Agudelo (Mix Diskerud) 35th minute
USA - Mix Diskerud (Freddy Adu)    36

Lineups:

USA: 1-Bill Hamid (18-Sean Johnson, 46); 3-Kofi Sarkodie, 2-Ike Opara (capt.), 4-Perry Kitchen, 5-Zarek Valentin; 6-Alfredo Morales (19-Amobi Okugo, 90), 8-Mix Diskerud, 10-Joe Corona; 7-Freddy Adu (17-Tony Taylor, 67), 9-Juan Agudelo (12-Teal Bunbury, 61), 11-Joe Gyau (14-Dilly Duka, 78)
Subs not used: 13-Jorge Villafana, 15-Jack McInerney, 16-Sebastian Lletget, 20-Michael Stephens
Head Coach: Caleb Porter

MEX: 1-Liborio Sanchez, 2-Israel Jimenez, 4-Nestor Araujo, 5-Darvin Chávez, 6-Ricardo Bocanegra (17-Javier Aquino, 46), 7-Javier Cortés, 9-Jeronimo Amione (19-Alan Pulido, 64), 10-Marco Fabian, 14-Jorge Enriquez (8-David Cabrera, 78), 16-Miguel Ponce (18-Hector Herrera, 46), 21-Ricardo Mier (capt.)
Subs not used: 11-Nestor Calderon, 12-Antonio Rodriguez, 13-Diego Reyes, 15-Jair Barraza, 20-Hugo Rodriguez
Head coach: Luis Fernando Tena

Stats Summary: USA / MEX                                           
Shots: 16 / 20
Shots on Goal: 6 / 8
Saves: 8 / 4
Corner Kicks: 3 / 6
Fouls: 15 / 10
Offside: 1 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Freddy Adu (caution)            38th minute
MEX – Marco Fabian (caution)          73

Officials:
Referee: Dave Gantar (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Phil Briere (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Daniel Belleau (CAN)
Fourth Official: Armando Villarreal (USA)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Juan Agudelo

At 20 years of age, Freddy Adu set personal career highs for the Men’s National Team in games played, games started, assists and goals in 2008. He also played a crucial role in the U.S. U-23’s trip to the Olympics, scoring four goals in three qualifying games, before eventually making two appearances during the group stage in Beijing. A veteran of four FIFA youth World Cups, Adu made the move to Europe in the summer of 2007, spending one season with SL Benfica in the Portuguese Liga. Prior to the start of the 2008-09 season, Adu embarked on a year-long loan move to France with AS Monaco. Still looking to find his feet in Europe, the technically gifted attacker enters 2009 looking to build on his progress with the national team.

  • Scored his first goal for the U.S. with a trademark free kick in the final game of the semifinal round of FIFA World Cup qualifying against Guatemala
  • A technically gifted attacker, Adu has played in three FIFA Under-20 World Cups, and is still age-eligible for a fourth
  • Became the youngest player in Major League Soccer history, appearing in his first game on April 3, 2004 and scoring a goal on April 17, 2004 at age 14
  • Was the first player to ever score a hat trick in both the FIFA Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups, with three goals against South Korea at the U-17 level in 2003, and three more against Poland with the Under-20s in 2007
  • Became the youngest player ever capped with the Men’s National Team on Jan. 22, 2006, when he appeared as an 81st minute sub against Canada

2008: Made a career high nine appearances, including four starts … Appeared in five FIFA World Cup qualifying matches, starting three … Scored one goal, his first with the MNT, against Guatemala in a 2-0 victory in November … Added two assists, against Barbados in June and Cuba in October … 2007: Made his second appearance for the United States against Switzerland on Oct. 17 in Basel … Given his first start for the MNT a month later on Nov. 17 against South Africa in Johannesburg … 2006: Became the youngest player to earn a cap with the U.S. MNT at 16 years, 234 days when he came on to replace an injured Eddie Johnson on against Canada in San Diego on Jan. 22, 2006 … Under-23s: Scored four goals in three appearances for the U-23s during CONCACAF Olympic qualifying in March … Named to the CONCACAF all-tournament team … Appeared in two out of the three games for the U.S. in Beijing … Notched a memorable assist on Sacha Kljestan’s goal against the Netherlands on Aug. 10 … A yellow card suspension ruled him out of the final group game in China … Under-20s: One of the youngest players on the U.S. Under-20 World Cup squad – having just turned 18 at the start of the event – but one of the most experienced as he also played in the 2003 and 2005 FIFA World Youth Championships, the only player on the squad to do so … Became just the second player in FIFA history to play in three Under-20 World Cups… Named captain of the team by head coach Thomas Rongen …Scored hat trick against Poland in U-20 World Cup … Became first player to record hat tricks in both U-17 and U-20 FIFA World Cups … Set up both goals against Brazil in Under-20 World Cup … Scored two goals and added an assist in 2007 CONCACAF Qualifying … Earned first U-20 cap against Japan on Oct. 8, 2003 at age 14 …Called up to replace injured forward Arturo Alvarez at 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, started four games and appeared in all five, helping the U.S to a fifth-place finish …Played in all four games of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, and all three games of CONCACAF Qualifying … Under-17s: Named 2003 U.S. Soccer Young Athlete of the Year … Led the team with 16 international goals … Scored four goals at the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, including a hat trick against South Korea in the opening game … First Appearance: Jan. 22, 2006, vs. Canada … First goal: Nov. 19, 2008, vs. Guatemala.
2008-09: Entered a year-long loan deal with French side AS Monaco in July of 2008, with an option to join the team permanently … Made nine appearances for Monaco in 2008, all of them substitute outings … 2007-08: Signed with Benfica of Portugal in August of 2007 following his U-20 World Cup campaign … Scored two goals in 11 appearances for Benfica in league play … Made his UEFA Champions League Debut against FC Copenhagen in August … 2007: Traded to Real Salt Lake from D.C. United in December of 2006 … Appeared in 11 games and scored one goal for RSL before transferring to Europe … 2006: Played in all 29 matches with D.C. United … Scored two goals and registered a career-high eight assists, good enough for third on the team … Named to the MLS All-Star team … 2005: Played in 25 games, starting 16 … Had a breakout game on May 7, assisting on two goals before finishing one in a 3-1 victory over Columbus … 2004: In his rookie season, was one of only three players to appear in every match for D.C. … Became the youngest player to ever appear in an MLS match on April 3 and became the youngest to ever score a goal on April 17 (at age 14) … Was a commissioner’s pick to the Sierra Mist All-Star Game … Selected by D.C. with the first pick of the 2004 MLS SuperDraft.

Born in Ghana and came to the United States at age eight with his mother and younger brother, Fro, when they won a green card lottery … Fro plays soccer at George Mason University

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