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Ten-Man U.S. Under-20 MNT Fall 3-1 to Mexican U-20s in Florida

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Thursday, January 23, 2003) — The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team fell 3-1 to Mexico tonight in front of a partisan crowd of  5,236 at Harris Stadium in Homestead, Fla.  The U.S. team played nearly the entire second half with only 10 men after the 48th-minute ejection of U.S. defender Heath Pearce.

“I thought we did some very good things on the field tonight, but anytime you have to play one half down a man it is difficult”, said U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen.  “It was a very good experience for our team tonight, and I think it will help us as we continue our preparations for the World Youth Championship.”

Tonight’s match concluded a 12-day training camp in South Florida for the U.S., where they played seven matches, posting five wins, one draw and one loss.  The U.S. team will regroup in South Florida in mid-February to continue preparations for the World Youth Championship that is scheduled to take place in the United Arab Emirates from March 25 – April 16.

The U.S. squad battled throughout the game, and was unlucky to be trailing at halftime after pressuring Mexico for most of the half.  Mexico took the lead on their first shot of the game, with Isaac Romo scoring against the run of play.  With U.S. midfielder Mike Magee having a shot just deflected off target on one end, Mexico broke out and started a counterattack on the left wing that ended with a Romo blast into the top of the net from 15 yards out.

The U.S. had the better of the chances throughout the first half, but were snakebit inside the Mexico 18-yard box.  Thomas Rongen’s team outshot Mexico 8-3 in the opening 45 minutes, and had a half-dozen other opportunities in the penalty area thwarted by sliding Mexican defenders.

The USA’s best chance came off the foot of Magee, when his 19th minute shot from the right side was cleared off the line by a sliding defender.  Quaranta also had a shot cleared off the line in the first half.

Ryan Cochrane, who teamed with Chad Marshall to play wonderfully in central defense for the U.S., had an eventful first half.  In the 24th minute his blast from just outside the area went wide, and then he kept the U.S. within striking distance in the first half with a sliding clearance after a shot was poked past U.S. goalkeeper Steve Cronin.  Cochrane, tracking the play from behind, met the ball just before it crossed the goalline and was able to clear the ball wide for a throw-in.

The ejection of Pearce changed the game in the second half, and Mexico capitalized on their man-advantage to score in the 67th minute, thanks to a nifty finish from Juan Carlos Medina.  Medina carried the ball down the left flank and into the penalty area, and then finished with a lovely chip over Cronin from 12 yards out.

Down 2-0, the U.S. began to play as they did early in the first half.  Justin Mapp, who caused the Mexican defense problems all night long with his weaving runs down the left flank, almost bagged his first goal of the year after a magical run in the 66th minute.  The Chicago Fire winger skinned Joel Huiki Andrade and Medina on the left side and cut into the area, where he shot just inches wide of the far right post.

The reward for their pressure finally came in the73rd minute. Pressing to get back into the game, Ed Johnson and Santino Quaranta played a nice combination in the midfield that ended with Quaranta freeing second-half substitute down the right wing with a beautiful ball.  Moose created space for himself rounding a defender and his right-footed cross into the area found Magee, who headed the ball past Jose Guadalupe Martinez for his 16th Under-20 goal.

The U.S. continued to press, and Magee nearly equalized four minutes later.  Finding a seam between the central defenders, Magee found himself alone with the goalkeeper, but his right-footed shot was stopped by a sprawling save from Martinez.  Quaranta’s off-balance attempt at the rebound went well wide.

Just as they did in the first half, Mexico withstood the U.S. pressure and then struck for a counterattack goal.  This time it was Mario Ortiz who scored for Mexico, essentially put the game out of reach with a 79th minute goal.

The game’s final highlight came from Steve Cronin, who rose to the occasion to save a penalty kick two minutes into added time.  Cronin, despite allowing three goals, played well in goal, producing five saves and showing keen instincts coming off his line to deal with Mexican through balls.

Rongen and two other members of the U.S. delegation will begin traveling on Monday to the United Arab Emirates for the World Youth Championship Draw, with the draw slated for January 29 in Abu Dhabi.

NOTES:  The U.S. kicked off to start the game ... The U.S. wore white jerseys with blue shorts ... Mexico used six second-half substitutions ... Rongen’s 21-man roster included 14 of the 18 players he called on for the November qualifying tournament in Charleston, S.C. … The U.S. roster included seven MLS players, including Mike Magee and Ricardo Clark, who were both among the first four picks of Friday’s MLS SuperDraft and are now teammates with the MetroStars ... The U.S. and Mexico are the two most dominating nations in CONCACAF youth play and have played in more World Youth Championships than any other country in the region …  Mexico will be playing in their 10th FIFA World Youth Championship, while the U.S. will be playing in their ninth at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship this spring ... The U.S. and Mexico Under-20 sides played to a scoreless draw at last year’s U.S. Amateur Soccer Festival in Houston.

- U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Game Report -

Participants:  U.S. Under-20 MNT vs. Mexico
Competition:  International Friendly
Venue: Harris Stadium – Homestead, Fla.
Date: January 23, 2003
Attendance: 5,236
Weather: 41 degrees; Cold, clear

Scoring Summary:   1st   2nd    Final
USA                                 0        1        1
Mexico                             1        2        3

MEX – Isaac Romo (assist)                         14th minute.
MEX – Juan Carlos Medina                          67.
USA – Mike Magee (Justin Moose)             73.
MEX – Mario Ortiz (Juan Carlos Medina)   79.

U.S. Under-20s: 1-Steve Cronin; 16-Heath Pearce, 5-Ryan Cochrane, 4-Chad Marshall, 8-C.J. Klaas  (23-Drew Moor, 46); 3-Justin Mapp, 11-Ricardo Clark (capt.), 15-Mike Magee, 13-Devin Barclay (19-Justin Moose, 61); 7-Ed Johnson, 17-Santino Quaranta (2-Jordan Harvey, 87).

Subs not used: 18-Ford Williams, 24-Clint Baumstark, 14-Chris Lancos, 22-Troy Roberts, 20-Stephen Shirley, 21-Chris Ordonez, 6-Jordan Stone.

Mexico:  12-Jose Guadalupe Martinez, 5-Ricardo Jimenez, 6-Fausto Pinto, 4-Joel Huiki Andrade (9-Aldo de Nigris,, 85), 3-Juan Carlos de la Barrera (capt), 7-Juan Carlos Medina, 8-Juan Jose de la Cruz (11-Alberto Esquivel, 82), 13-Mario Ortiz (17-Guillermo Rojas, 92), 10-Alberto Medina (15David Costilla, 90), 18-Isaac Romo (16-Ignacio Torres, 79), 14-Daniel Almaral (2-Randy Scott Santana, 51)

Subs Not Used: 1-Victor Patino

Statistical Summary:  USA  /  MEX
Shots      12  /  9
Saves       5  /  4
Corner Kicks    3  /  3
Fouls    17  /  15
Offside     2  /  2

Misconduct Summary:
MEX – Isaac Romo (caution)    39th minute.
USA – Ricardo Clark (caution)    44.
USA – Heath Pearce (ejection)    48.
MEX – Ricardo Jimenez (caution)  53.
USA – Justin Moose (caution)   70.
MEX – Juan Carlos Medina (Caution)  91+.