BRADENTON, Fla. (Nov. 21, 2018) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team turned in a sterling effort in a 2-0 win against Mexico to capture a second consecutive Concacaf U-20 Championship title. Alex Mendez scored both goals to guide the U.S. to victory and cap off a Golden Ball-winning performance at the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship, while goalkeeper Brady Scott was recognized with the tournament Golden Glove Award. Additionally, Scott, defenders Sergino Dest, Chris Gloster and Mark McKenzie, midfielders Brandon Servania, Mendez, Ayo Akinola, and Ulysses Llanez were all named to the tournament Best XI team by the competition's Technical Study Committee.
The game began with the U.S. well in control with the wealth of possession and offensive forays. After the 15-minute mark, Mexico began to push forward with more confidence and players, having played on the counter in the early going. With increased space to operate its offense, the U.S. struck the opening blow via a nice attack down the left sideline that culminated in Paxton Pomykal cutting infield and picking out Alex Mendez at the top of the area for a one-time shot through traffic that nestled in the lower right corner of the net for the 1-0 advantage.
Continuing its run of commanding play, the U.S. nearly doubled its lead in the 26th minute again through Pomykal, but the ball refused to go in, hitting a defender then the Mexico goalkeeper and bounced toward the open net before being cleared off the line.
Things began to get chippy after that as tackles from both teams came in hard and confrontations between players became more common. The disrupted nature of the game suited Mexico just fine as it won a number of free kicks in dangerous areas around the USA’s final third, one of which resulted in the best chance of the half for El Tri.
With half time closing in, a set piece was lofted into the USA’s six-yard box and required U.S. goalkeeper Brady Scott to make an imperative kick save to deny a headed attempt in the 41st minute to preserve his side’s 1-0 lead.
In the second half, the U.S. used the lead well, picking its spots to go forward and striking pay dirt just six minutes in. It was Pomykal again who played the catalyst, winning the ball in midfield and streaking down the left side, then cutting through the box past multiple defenders before picking out the late run of Mendez. The skillful midfielder rounded a defender and played a wall pass with Pomykal that put him in a goal and Mendez tucked his shot between the legs of the on-rushing goalkeeper to double the U.S. lead.
From there, the game began to stretch, and the spotlight shined brightest on the goalkeepers who were both superb, making numerous saves to keep the match tilted on a knife edge. Mexico nearly broke through in the 62nd minute, but Brandon Saravina was on hand to clear the ball of the line for the U.S.
Passions continued to flare as they had in the first half, but neither team was able to exceed the intensity of the other and U.S. head coach Tab Ramos made the right subs to keep the U.S. in the driver’s seat and across the finish line for a second straight U-20 championship.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Alex Mendez (Paxton Pomykal), 17th minute: The U.S. worked the ball down the left touchline to Paxton Pomykal who cut inside past a Mexico defender before spotting Mendez waiting unmarked at the top of the box. Pomykal laid off a perfectly weighted pass that Mendez hit first time with his left foot, sending a low drive through traffic into the bottom right corner of the net. USA 1, MEX 0 [WATCH]
USA – Alex Mendez (Paxton Pomykal), 51st minute: The U.S. struck on a lightening quick counter attack early in the second half as Pomykal stripped the ball from the opposition and raced down the left sideline before cutting across the top of the Mexico box past a number of defenders. He picked out the late arrival of Mendez who played the ball right back to Pomykal at the top of the box and he returned it into Mendez’s path. As Mexico ‘keeper Carlos Higuera came out to close down the angle, Mendez slipped the ball between his legs and into the vacated net, tying the all-time U.S. record for goals scored by a single player at the Concacaf U-20 Championship. USA 2, MEX 0 [WATCH] FINAL
- With the result, U.S. head coach Tab Ramos moves to 20-3-2 all-time in Concacaf U-20 Championship play and has led the team to four straight World Cups.
- The USA is unbeaten in its last 13 Concacaf U-20 Championship matches dating back to the opener of 2017, establishing a new team record for longest stretch without a loss in this tournament. Previously, the USA went unbeaten in 10 games from the opener of 2005 (5-0-1), 2007 (2-0-1), before falling to Costa Rica in the 2009 final after going 2-0-2.
- The USA now has a 3-8-0 all-time record versus Mexico in this competition.
- U.S. head coach Tab Ramos made three changes from the team that started versus Honduras: Brady Scott returned to goal, Matt Real, who wore the captain’s armband, replaced Chris Gloster at left back, and Justin Rennicks replaced Sebastian Soto at forward.
- Paxton Pomykal and Rennicks have appeared in all eight matches.
- Tournament Golden Ball winner, Alex Mendez led the U.S. with eight goals, which ties the USA's tournament record set by Ricky Davis who scored eight in 1976.
- The teams both played in their third final over the last four tournaments. They met in 2013, with Mexico winning 3-1 in overtime. Mexico also won the 2015 Championship, while the USA captured its first ever CU20 title in 2017.
Match: U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: November 21, 2018
Competition: 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship; Final
Venue: IMG Academy Stadium; Bradenton, Fla.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: 65 degrees; clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
MEX 0 0 0
USA – Alex Mendez (Paxton Pomykal) 17th minute
USA – Alex Mendez (Paxton Pomykal) 50
USA: 1-Brady Scott, 22-Sergiño Dest, 4-Mark McKenzie, 26-Chris Richards, 5-Matt Real (capt.); 8-Alex Mendez, 6-Brandon Servania, 20-Frankie Amaya (11-Ulysses Llanez, 64), 17-Ayo Akinola (3-Chris Gloster, 82), 9-Justin Rennicks, 10-Paxton Pomykal (7-Juan Pablo Torres, 76)
Substitutes not used: 12-David Ochoa; 14-Manny Perez, 23-Sebastian Soto, 2-Jaylin Lindsey, 19-Samuel Rogers, 16-Julian Araujo
Head Coach: Tab Ramos
MEX: 1-Carlos Higuera; 2-Kevin Álvarez, 3-Gilberto Sepúlveda (capt.), 4-Efrain Orona, 8-Misael Domínguez, 9-José Macías (17-Edgar López, 80), 10-Diego Lainez, 11-Diego Hernández (19-Daniel López, 46), 14-Oswaldo León, 16-Fernando Plascencia, 21-Roberto Meraz (7-Carlos Gutiérrez, 74)
Substitutes not used: 12-Luis López, 6-Naelson Cárdenas, 13-Mario Trejo, 5-Carlos Vargas, 15-Alexis Gutiérrez, 18-Eduardo Torres, 20-Adrián Lozano
Head coach: Diego Ramírez
Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 20 / 11
Shots on Goal: 6 / 5
Saves: 4 / 4
Corner Kicks: 6 / 6
Fouls: 34 / 18
Offside: 0 / 1
USA – Ayo Akinola (caution) 33rd minute
USA – Brandon Servania (caution) 35
MEX – Roberto Meraz (caution) 60
MEX – Diego Lainez (caution) 77
USA – Chris Gloster (caution) 88
MEX – Gilberto Sepúlveda (caution) 89
Referee: Ivan Barton (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Chantal Boudreau (CAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Jassett Kerr (JAM)
4th Official: Kimbell Ward (SKN)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Alex Mendez