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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.

GOAL: Jordan Morris Caps Off U-23 MNT's 3-0 Win vs. Mexico

For the second time in a week, Jordan Morris scored against Mexico - this time with the U-23 MNT to close out a 3-0 win.

GOAL: Christian Dean Extends U-23 MNT Lead Over Mexico to 2-0

Christian Dean's headed goal from a second half set piece doubled the U.S. U-23 MNT's lead. #dosacero

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 

Lineups:
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 

Officials
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

GOAL: Mario Rodriguez Lands Opening Blow for U.S. U-23s vs. Mexico

Mario Rodriguez smartly finished from a Luis Gil cross to give the U-23 #USMNT a 1-0 lead over Mexico.

From Germany to California: A Rodriguez Homecoming

U.S. Under-23 Men’s National team forward Mario Rodriguez made the longest journey of the 20 players on the roster to get to this week’s camp after traveling 5,600 miles from his Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach in Germany to Los Angeles, a place he knows well.

“I’m from North Hollywood,” Rodriguez said. “Coming back here is good, but it’s different because this time it’s strictly business, and it’s a good feeling playing against Mexico in my home. It’s really something else and it really feels good.”

Rodriguez has his eyes focused closely on the prize of another U.S. victory over Mexico, hoping to follow up on the senior team’s 2-0 win last week. He got off the plane at LAX after a 13-hour flight with one thing in mind.

“It’s a big rivalry,” he said. “Mexico and the U.S. have been at this battle for a very long time and it’s our turn now.”

Rodriguez was one of the last players to arrive at camp, getting in just shortly after the week’s first training session had begun. Eager to get to work, he texted the team coordinator who he had thought would be waiting for him at the airport.

“I said, ‘What’s up, are you going to come pick me up?’” Rodriguez said. “He was like, ‘No, not right now,’ and I said ‘What?’, and then out of nowhere my parents were there.”

Rodriguez’s mother and father still live in his hometown of North Hollywood, just north of LAX, and were there to surprise him at the airport. Living so far away from home, Rodriguez said it was an amazing surprise and it was wonderful to get the chance to see them.

“They really surprised me,” Rodriguez said. “It was just so nice to see them because I wasn’t expecting it and I haven’t seen them in so long.”

Rodriguez rode alongside mom and dad to the team hotel where they were able to meet the rest of his teammates as they pulled in from training. They wished them all well and told them they would be watching on Wednesday.

Growing up in the Los Angeles area, Rodriguez spent the early part of his career playing through the LA Galaxy youth system. From there he moved on to play for 1. FC Kaiserslautern in 2012 and in 2013 he moved around Germany to play for Borussia Mönchengladbach, the same club as fellow American and U.S. MNT defender Fabian Johnson.

After being on the other side of the world for the last few years, Rodriguez said it will be a great experience to play back home in LA in the stadium of the club where it all began for him.

“It’s always a privilege to put on the red, white and blue and to play for the National Team.”

As an added bonus this time around, he will have his family cheering him on when he does so on Wednesday.


Full Circle: Youngest and Oldest U.S. Soccer YNT Programs Share Lunch During Training

This week, the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team and the Under-14 Boys' National Team are both training at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, California. Having camps just one field apart gave the squads an opportunity to gather together after training and meet for a group lunch. For the U-14's, it was an opportunity to see where continued hard work might lead. For the U-23's, it was a reminder of how far they have come, and an opportunity to share with the youngsters what they have learned along the way.

“Getting together is really important,” U-14 BNT head coach Brian Johnson said. “I think it’s important for both age groups actually. For the U-14's, it’s an opportunity to see older players, who have come through, as most of [the U-23's] have come through the system. It’s important for them to be able to talk to the [U-23’s] and eat lunch with them and ask questions and just engage in community.”

With the U-14's being the youngest of U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams and the U-23's being the last stop before the Senior National Team, the boys were able to tap into the older players' full range of U.S. Soccer experiences.

U-23 MNT U-14 BNT
U-23 MNT midfielder Luis Gil laughs with members of the U-14 Boys' National Team. Players from both teams shared lunch while simultaneously training at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, California.

“It feels very good and I feel very blessed that I got chosen to be with this talented group of players,” U-14 forward Jose Rivas said. “I asked how it feels to score in an international game. I asked where they played as youngsters and where they grew up and where they plan to play in the next few years.”

The U-14's and the U-23's were spread out amongst the tables and had the chance to sit with players that play the same positions. Rivas had the opportunity to sit down with a fellow forward.

“I talked to Jordan Morris, the man who scored against Mexico,” Rivas said grinning. “So happy. He said he doesn’t really know how it felt, it was a blur for him.”

In the coming years, Rivas hopes to have an experience like that of his own, but in the meantime, he will continue to work towards that goal. This week he gets to watch from only steps away, an experience he said is very special.

“It’s important that the U-14's see that connection and that they have these guys to look up to.” Johnson said. “They kind of find out some of the things that they’ve done well, and also maybe some of the things that have been tough for them and the different obstacles to overcome.

“When you play for the National Team it gets harder and harder as you get older, so it’s important for them to know, even specifically with their own positions, some of the stuff they do well, and maybe some of the things that they work on their own outside of training, so that they can do better and ultimately help the team.”

U-23s Continue Rivalry with Mexico in Carson

The U-23 MNT is preparing for Olympic Qualifying later this year and their first home match of 2015 is against Mexico in Carson. Watch as the USA prepares for a match against their archrival with an eye towards qualifying and Rio de Janeiro next year.
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