U.S. U-23 Men Win Pan Am Bronze With 2-1 Win Against Canada
Carlos Bocanegra and Landon Donovan scored for the U.S., who won just their third Pan Am medal. The Americans won gold in 1991 and took a bronze in 1959.
"As time went on we all got better because this is a team that was thrown together," Donovan said. "By the end of the tournament we molded together and we put it out there today."
Donovan nearly netted for the Americans twice before the break, and missed a breakaway in the early second half. But the Bayer Leverkusen striker finally found his mark in the 60th minute, pounding in a loose ball from close range.
Pete Vagenas laid the ball back to a charging Brian Winters, who struck the ball first time from 22 yards out and Canadian goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld was unable to control the shot. Donovan jumped on the rebound and poked it in from two yards out.
Bocanegra gave the Americans an early lead, when he netted his first Under-23 goal in the seventh minute. The UCLA defender carried the ball forward from his left back position and played the ball wide on the left side to Cory Gibbs. Gibbs trapped the ball and sent a cross into the goalmouth that found a sprinting Bocanegra all alone at the six-yard box, and Bocanegra hammered his header into the lower left corner of the net.
Canada closed the gap in the 85th minute when substitute Chris Pozniak beat a sliding Sasha Victorine and his bending shot from 22 yards curled into the upper right hand corner of the net.
Canada nearly equalized two minutes later but Canadian striker Dwayne Derosario was whistled for offsides after he dribbled around a diving Tim Howard. Howard had a quite evening, only being called on to make two saves.
The U.S. men finish the tournament with a 3-2-1 record. Despite the team's winning record, the U.S. was outscored 8-6. Honduras and Mexico meet tomorrow night for the Pan Am gold medal. Mexico topped the U.S. 4-0 in the semifinals, and Honduras beat the Americans 2-1 in group play.
The United States' Under-23 National Team will regroup in January, when Charles will begin choosing his squad that will compete in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualification that begins in April. The majority of that team will likely come from players that are currently competing in the MLS.
The U-23's have now compiled a 13-7-9 record in the last two years, since Charles took over the team and began preparation for the 2000 Olympic Games.
"We're in great shape," Charles said. "U.S. Soccer has never been in as good shape as it is right now," Charles said.