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Academy Alumni: Hyndman to Lead U-20's Abroad; Johannsson Leads AZ to Europa League Berth

FC Dallas Academy alum Emerson Hyndman was named U-20 MNT Captain for the 2015 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand. Hyndman is one of six U-20 players that appeared in all six matches for the U-20 MNT at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Jamaica in January, where he scored once and led the team with three assists. The 19-year-old has also earned a cap with the senior U.S. Men’s National Team, debuting on September 3, 2014 as a second-half sub in the USA’s 1-0 win against the Czech Republic. He also played a friendly with the U.S. U-23 MNT on October 14, 2014 when he started against Brazil in Brasilia.

Aron Johannsson and his Dutch club AZ Alkmaar entered the weekend tied with Feyenoord for the Eredivisie’s third-place position and the Europa League spot that goes along with it. Johansson was clearly set on AZ taking that position as he scored a pair of goals, including a full bicycle. Johannsson also added an assist in AZ Alkmaar’s 4-1 win over Excelsior. With Feyenoord losing, AZ are officially in the Europa League for next season. 

Zach Pfeffer (Continental FC Delco) scored a huge stoppage-time game winner for the Philadelphia Union in its match with D.C. United on Sunday night, finishing a sliding left footed shot in the box to end the Union’s four-game losing streak.

New York Red Bulls Academy product Juan Agudelo scored the opening goal in New England Revolution’s 1-1 draw with Toronto FC. Agudelo’s goal came on a diving header that was set up by FC Dallas alum London Woodberry, who was credited with the assist. Woodberry was named to the MLS Team of the Week.

Lonestar SC Academy product Khiry Shelton sent in the game-tying goal for New York City FC in its game with the Chicago Fire. NYC played much of the game with 10-men after a first-half red card, but were able to rally from a two-score deficit to save the point. The goal was Shelton’s first of his MLS career.

Pateadores alum Luis Gil assisted on Real Salt Lake’s only goal in their 4-1 defeat to Montreal Impact. Gil has been quite the all-around assist man this year, having also recorded four with the U.S. U-23 MNT.

Will Bruin (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri Alum) was named to the MLS Team of the Week for his double for the Houston Dynamo against the Portland Timbers. Bruin’s brace helped the team to a 2-1 victory.

Experience to Play Pivotal Role for U.S. U-20 MNT at World Cup

They say experience is the teacher of all things, and that could prove to be a key factor for the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team as it approaches the final weeks of preparation leading up to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. 

U.S. head coach Tab Ramos is at the forefront of that experience. Not only did he play in both a U-20 and senior team World Cup – three in fact – but Ramos is also entering his second World Cup as head coach of the U20s. 

“Having been in a World Cup before is a great experience,” Ramos said. “Going to my second World Cup (as a coach), it’s easier for me to focus on the team and not on everything that surrounds the team.” 

Ramos isn’t alone in experience with this group – and this tournament. Also returning from the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey are assistant coaches Javier Perez and Russell Payne, as well as goalkeeper Zack Steffen and midfielder Kellyn Acosta. While neither player played in Turkey, the experience they gained as being part of the group was invaluable. 

“Looking back at 2013, I didn’t get to play, but I was there learning, and taking it all in,” Acosta said. “I was able to look at how polished pros like Will Trapp and Luis Gil led and handled the group; how mature they were about what they did. 

“Going into this World Cup, with what I was able to observe two years ago, I think I can help the guys that maybe haven’t been in such a big stage before be more prepared so they can play and just be focused on the game and not be distracted by all the other things that come with the World Cup.” 

Acosta was the captain for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship team in Jamaica, however he injured his knee in the second game and was forced to miss the remainder of the tournament. 

“I was very disappointed, because I wanted to be able to help the team,” said Acosta. “But I was very proud of the team. They had four great games and they grinded it out and got us through. And I thought Russ (Canouse) did a great job in pulling the team together.” 

That the team could qualify without Acosta – who is now fully healthy and playing regularly with his team, FC Dallas - is another reminder of the depth that the U-20 age group has. 

“The difference from 2013 was fairly big,” Ramos said of selecting the final roster. “We didn’t have as many options for the 2013 roster. This is a roster with a number of options to select different types of players. It’s a very competitive group and one with many more players who are playing in the first division.” 

Acosta said the competition for positions is a good thing for the team. 

“No spot is guaranteed,” Acosta said. “I’ve been fortunate to get minutes with my team, but not going to those camps had me on my toes. Anyone can come in and play well. I feel like these last two camps mattered a lot.” 

And that they did. 

Desevio Payne and Maki Tall are two examples of players who had previously not been part of a U.S. Youth Team who impressed Ramos in camps in England and Austria and made the World Cup roster. 

Marco Delgado, Jordan Allen, Erik Palmer-Brown, and Joel Soñora are players with previous YNT experience who did not participate in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship but made the final roster through their play at the recent camps. 

The group will get together starting next week in Carson, California, leaving two weeks to prepare for the World Cup opener against Myanmar on May 30. 

“The goal at this point is to win our first game,” Ramos said. “So we are completely committed to seeing what Myanmar is about and being completely prepared to win that game. 

From California the team will travel to Australia for a few days before departing for New Zealand. 

 “We have to act like it’s game mode,” Acosta said of the team’s approach from here on out. “No opponent is going to be easy, so any game we play in the next few weeks we have to treat it like it’s a World Cup game.” 

Acosta has been a leader on the team for a while now, and while he accepts the role, he also stresses the importance of everyone being able to contribute. 

“I’ve taken the role over the past year, and I’m ready to take the role again. But I think every guy needs to be vocal for us to be a good team. As a group collectively, we need everyone pulling together.” 

Having been there before, and knowing this team, Acosta is anxious to get to New Zealand. 

“I can’t really express how excited I am to go out and show the world what we got and prove to everyone why we should be a force to be reckoned with.”

Gallery: U-23 MNT Win Completes Two-Game Double for USA Over Mexico

Photos from the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team 3-0 victory over its counterpart from Mexico at the StubHub Center in Carson, California on April 22, 2015. Los Angeles-area native Mario Rodriguez started the scoring for the U.S. in the second half. Fellow California Christian Dean followed up with his first international goal for the USA before Stanford University sophomore Jordan Morris capped off the night with his second goal against Mexico in as many games. Morris also scored the winning goal for the senior MNT in its 2-0 win against Mexico the week before. Additionally, U.S. goalkeeper Cody Cropper turned in a fine performance, stopping all seven shots on goal he faced to earn his first shutout of the year for the U-23s. 

The U-23 MNT will next be in action come the end of May when the team travels to France for the international Toulon Tournament. The USA will face France (May 27), the Netherlands (May 29), Costa Rica (May 31) and Qatar (June 2) during group play of the competition as it continues preparation for Olympic Qualifying, which kicks off this fall and will take place throughout the United States.

Highlights: Morris Strikes Again, Rodriguez and Dean Add Gloss to U-23 MNT Win Over Mexico

The U.S. U-23 MNT defeated Mexico 3-0 in Carson, California.

U-23 MNT Earns 3-0 Win against Mexico

CARSON, Calif. (April 22, 2015) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team defeated archrival Mexico 3-0, behind goals from Mario Rodriguez, Christian Dean and Jordan Morris at StubHub Center. The win was the second-straight for the U-23 MNT over its Mexico counterpart, after the USA won 2-0 in the last matchup between the two nations on Feb. 29, 2012.

In eight matches between the U.S. U-23 MNT and Mexico since 1992 (when Olympic soccer was first designated as an Under-23 tournament), the USA has gone 6-2-0, (4-0-0 on U.S. soil) including tonight’s win.

U.S. goalkeeper Cody Cropper, who saved all seven shots on goal he faced, earned his first shutout of 2015 and the first for any U.S. U-23 MNT goalkeeper this year.

The U-23 MNT next comes together for the Toulon Tournament, which runs from May 27-June 7 in Toulon, France. The USA will face France (May 27), Netherlands (May 29), Costa Rica (May 31) and Qatar (June 2).

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Mario Rodriguez (Luis Gil), 48th Minute:
Starting from the center, U.S. midfielder Fatai Alashe played a ball out to the left where Luis Gil ran onto it and continued with pace down the left side. Gil angled a pinpoint cross past a closing defender into the box where a sliding Rodriguez volleyed it into the lower right-hand side of the net for the first goal of the game. USA 1, MEX 0 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Christian Dean (Dillon Serna), 58th minute: Mexico’s Bernardo Hernandez was called for a foul on Mario Rodriguez on the left side of the field, earning the U.S. a free kick. Dillon Serna sent the left-footed free kick into the box where an unmarked Christian Dean headed his shot past helpless Mexico goalkeeper Luis Cardenas into the left side of the frame for his first goal with the U.S. USA 2, MEX 0 (SEE GOAL)

USA – Jordan Morris (Shane O’Neill), 68th minute: From a corner kick, Luis Gil sent a high looping ball to the far side of the six yard box. Shane O’Neill ripped in a hard, one-time cross as the ball bounced to him and Morris met the pass with a leaping, left-footed volley that Cardenas got a hand to but was unable to keep from powering into the goal for the final margin. USA 3, MEX 0 (FINAL) (SEE GOAL)

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Cody Cropper (Save), 1st minute:
Before the game was a minute old, Mexico played a ball through the middle and ripped a shot that forced Cody Cropper into a diving save, which he barely reached and pushed out of play.

USA – Cody Cropper (Save), 33rd minute: Mexico’s Angel Saldivar pushed at top speed from the right side and flicked a last chance effort at goal before reaching the endline, which Cropper brought in with two hands to keep the game level.

MEX – Luis Cardenas (Save), 41st minute: Luis Gil brought down a deflected ball in the box from 15 yards out, took a touch and a turn, and fired on goal. The shot went straight at Cardenas, who dropped to a knee and collected.

USA – Cody Cropper (Save), 45th minute: Mexico whipped in a dangerous cross from a corner kick, and Cropper dove out to snag a flick-on right in front of goal, preserving the scoreless the first half.

MEX – Luis Cardenas (Save), 54th minute: Daniel Metzger was first to a deflected ball just outside of the Mexico box, collecting it and sending a hard shot at goal from distance. Cardenas dove and just reached the ball to knock it out of play.

USA – Cody Cropper (Save), 64th minute: Angel Saldivar shrugged off his defender at the top of the box and sent a curling shot to the far post, which Cropper leaped for and tipped out of play.

USA – Cody Cropper (Save), 73rd minute: A long bouncing ball was played into the box which a streaking Mexico player met with a tricky header. Cropper was equal to the task, diving and deflecting the ball to safety to keep the shutout.

Additional Notes:

  • The U-23s began the game in a diamond 4-4-2 formation, the same formation used by the senior U.S. team in its match against Mexico on April 15.
  • Mario Rodriguez scored the game’s first goal; it was his second of the year.
  • Rodriguez, a Los Angeles-area native from North Hollywood, made the start at forward. The Borussia Mönchengladbach forward spent time playing in the LA Galaxy’s youth system.
  • Jordan Morris has now scored twice against Mexico in as many games, recording a goal with the senior MNT last week against Mexico in San Antonio, and again tonight. Morris also scored for the U.S. U-23 MNT in the team’s win over Bosnia earlier this year.
  • Luis Gil now leads the team with four assists in 2015.
  • Gil wore the captain’s armband for the third straight game.
  • Oscar Sorto, a Los Angeles native who plays for the LA Galaxy, made the start for the U-23s, playing in his club’s home stadium, StubHub Center.
  • It was also a homecoming for Jose Villarreal, who plays for the LA Galaxy and entered in for Alejandro Guido in the game’s 24th Minute.
  • Christian Dean’s goal was his first at any level of his Youth National Team career with the USA.

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

Match: U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team vs. Mexico U-23
Date: April 22, 2015
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: StubHub Center; Carson, California
Kickoff: 8 p.m. PT
Attendance: 3,782
Weather: 61 degrees; Cloudy  

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F
USA                            0          3          3
MEX                            0          0          0 

USA – Mario Rodriguez (Luis Gil)               48th minute
USA – Christian Dean (Dillon Serna)           58
USA – Jordan Morris (Shane O’Neill)          68 

USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 20-Oscar Sorto (3-Boyd Okwuonu, 68), 5-Walker Zimmerman (6-Christian Dean, 46), 4-Shane O’Neill, 7-Dillon Serna (2-Juan Pablo Ocegueda, 81); 14-Fatai Alashe, 13-Alejandro Guido (17-Jose Villareal, 24; 16-Daniel Metzger, 40), 8-Benji Joya, 10-Luis Gil (capt.); 9-Jordan Morris, 18-Mario Rodriguez (11-Alonso Hernandez, 72)
Subs Not Used: 12-Jon Kempin, 15-Alfred Koroma Shams, 19-Sam Strong
Head coach: Andreas Herzog

MEX: 1-Luis Cardenas;  2-Gil Buron, 4-Luis Guzman, 3-Luis Solorio, 5-Jorge Caballero (15-Bernardo Hernandez, 46); 7-Jorge Espericueta (14-Michael Perez, 59), 11-Daniel Hernandez, 16-Rafael Escamilla (6-Pedro Hernandez, 46); 8-Uvaldo Luna (17-Carlos Cisneros, 74), 9-Angel Zaldivar, 10-Marco Bueno (capt.) (18-Rosario Cota, 46)
Subs Not Used: 12-Manuel Lajud, 13-Pedro Teran, 19-Jose Alberto Garcia, 20-Ulises Jaimes
Head coach: Raul Gutierrez

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 12 / 14
Shots on Goal: 5 / 7
Saves: 7 / 2
Corner Kicks: 6 / 10
Fouls: 15 / 10
Offside: 0 / 1 

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Mario Rodriguez (caution)                  21st minute
USA – Fatai Alashe (caution)                         38
USA – Shane O’Neill (caution)                       43
USA –Boyd Okwuonu (caution)                     90+1 

Referee: David Gantar (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Daniel Belleau (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Philippe Briere (CAN)
4th Official: Mathieu Bourdeau (CAN) 

Budweiser Man of the Match: Mario Rodriguez

Under-20s: Heading into the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Gil has two goals and an assist in five games. Both goals came during the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship. He tallied a penalty kick during the USA's opening 2-1 win against Haiti on feb. 18, 2013, adn scored the first goal of the tea's 4-2 victory against Canada on Feb. 26 in the all-important quarterfinals to clinch a spot in the U-20 World Cup. Gil was named to the 2013 CONCACAF Championship All-Tournament Team. In 2012, Gil tallied a goal and an assist in three games with two starts. He became part of the U-20 picture in 2011, scoring a goal in two matches. Earlier in 2013, Gil played the full 90 minutes in a match against Panama. He debuted with the U-20s on Jan. 22, 2010, with a 90-minute effort in the first game of the Copa Chivas tournament against Pachuca in Guadalajara, scoring the USA’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss … Under-18s: In 2010, Gil played for the U-18s at the Lisbon International Tournament in Portugal from May 21-31 and captained the team during a May 27 loss to Norway. Also at the tournament, Gil set up the game’s lone goal during a 1-0 win against Romania on May 28 … Under-17s: Gil scored five goals in 32 appearances for the U.S. U-17 MNT after joining the Residency Program for the spring of 2008. In 2009, Gil tallied four goals and an assist in 18 games and was named U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Athlete of the Year. Gil had an assist and played in the USA’s four games at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria and was the youngest member of the U.S. squad at the tournament. His four goals ranked second-best on the U-17 MNT in 2009. During the group stage, Gil played the full 90 minutes in wins against Malawi and United Arab Emirates and a 2-1 loss to Spain, and his performance in Nigeria garnered attention from European clubs such as Arsenal and Real Madrid.

Gil is in the midst of his fourth season with Major League Soccer's real Salt Lake in 2013. Before joining the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup team, Gil had logged 13 starts and 14 games, 1,016 minutes, two goals and an assist. In 2012, his third season with Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, Gil set career highs in games started (19), games played (19) and assists (3) while also contributed a goal. In 2011, Gil started in 14 of his 25 regular-season games and scored two goals. He made his RSL debut on March 26, 2011, against the LA Galaxy as a second half sub during a 4-1 win. Though Gil did not play in a regular-season match for RSL in 2010, he did play in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match and in CONCACAF Champions League action. Salt Lake acquired Gil from the Kansas City Wizards in February of 2010.