VIÑA DEL MAR, Chile (Nov. 4, 2023) – The U.S. Men’s Pan American Team finished fourth at the 2023 Pan American Games following a 4-1 defeat to Mexico in the Bronze Medal Match. While forward Tega Ikoba put the U.S. ahead midway through the first half, a strong Mexico squad responded with four unanswered goals to claim the final place on the podium.
This year marked the first time U.S. Soccer has fielded a men’s team at the Pan American Games since 2007. Fourth place is the USA’s best finish at the tournament since a bronze medal at Winnipeg 1999 and the USA’s fourth-best showing at the competition in 13 total appearances.
The U.S. opened the scoring in the 24th minute in the aftermath of a free kick from 40 yards out. Sending a booming ball into the box, forward Jackson Hopkins headed it to the left post and Mexico goalkeeper Fernando Tapia made the stop, but the rebound fell to defender Alexander Freeman. Tapia again got his hand on the ball, but this time the deflection fell to Ikoba and he volleyed home a bouncing shot to put the U.S. up early.
El Tri tied things up just before the break. Dribbling across the box, Alfonso Monroy played to Jordan Carrillo at the top of the box and he hit a hard-rolling shot that got past U.S. goalkeeper Chituru Odunze in the 42nd. Mexico took the lead on the other side of halftime with a combination between Raymundo Fulgencio and Fidel Ambriz in the box before Fulgencio finished it off in the 50th.
Mexico built its advantage down the stretch in the second half. In the 72nd, a nice ball in from Mauricio Isais driving down the left side was clipped by Ettson Ayon at the near post and the bouncing ball fell to Carrillo, who drove it to the far right post. The scoring finished in the 89th, when Juan Jesús Brigido played a cross in from the left side for the onrushing Ali Avila to send to the back of the net.
The U.S. men battled hard in all five matches at the Pan American Games, trailing in only 130 of 450 minutes and facing its only multi-goal deficit against Mexico. All five games’ deciding goals came in the second half and the USA’s first two matches were determined in the final five minutes of play.
The Pan American Games, a continental multi-sport event for North and South America, have featured a variety of age restriction rules for soccer since their launch in 1951. As the Pan American Games are held the year before the Olympics, all nations are now restricted to bringing under-22 players, aligning with the under-23 age restriction at the Olympics. U.S. head coach Michael Nsien brought three players born in 2002, five born in 2003, five born in 2004 and five born in 2005.
The United States qualified for the Pan Am Games with its dominant title-winning performance at the 2022 Concacaf U-20 Championship. The U.S. won the tournament for the third-straight time, clinching its first men’s Olympic berth since 2008 in the process. Four teams from Concacaf qualified to the Pan American Games, the U-20 Championship winner (USA) plus the best team from each of the confederation’s three sub-regions- Caribbean (Dominican Republic), Central America (Honduras) and North America (Mexico).
This year marks the U.S. men’s 13th appearance over 19 editions of the Pan American Games. The red, white and blue took home gold at the 1991 tournament in Havana, Cuba with the likes of future USMNT legends like Cobi Jones, Kasey Keller and Claudio Reyna. The USA also reached the podium in its tournament debut at Chicago 1959 and at Winnipeg 1999.
-U.S. MEN’S PAN AMERICAN TEAM MATCH REPORT-
Match: United States Men’s Pan American Soccer Team vs. Mexico
Date: Nov. 4, 2023
Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (1 p.m. local)
Competition: 2023 Pan American Games Bronze Medal Match
Venue: Estadio Sausalito; Viña del Mar, Mexico
Weather: 77 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
MEX 1 3 4
USA – Tega Ikoba 23rd minute
MEX – Jordan Carrillo (Alfonso Monroy) 42
MEX – Raymundo Fulgencio (Fidel Ambriz) 50
MEX – Jordan Carrillo 72
MEX – Ali Avila (Juan Jesus Brigido) 88
USA: 1-Chituru Odunze; 2-Mauricio Cuevas (4-Nicolas Carrera, 76), 3-Michael Wentzel, 5-Thomas Williams (Capt.), 7-Jackson Hopkins (10-Jack Panayotou, 55), 8-Brooklyn Raines, 11-Tega Ikoba (17-Rodrigo Neri, 76), 13-Alexander Freeman, 14-Vaughn Covil, 16-Nolan Norris (9-Theodore Ku-DiPietro, 46), 18-Javier Casas Jr. (6-Daniel Leyva, 82)
Substitutes not used: 12-Antonio Carrera, 15-Sergio Oregel, Head coach: Michael Nsien
MEX: 1-Fernando Tapia, 2-Alfonso Monroy (13-Jesus Garcia, 70), 4-Rafael Fernandez, 5-Mauricio Isais, 6-Erik Lira (Capt.), 7-Raymundo Fulgencio (17-Ramiro Arciga, 84), 8-Fidel Ambriz, 9-Ettson Ayon (18-Ali Avila, 76), 10-Jordan Carrillo (15-Sebastian Perez Bouquet, 76), 11-Bryan Gonzalez (16-Juan Jesus Brigido, 46), 14-Antonio Leone
Substitutes not used: 12-Eduardo Garcia
Head coach: Ricardo Cadena
Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 11 / 16
Shots on Goal: 5 / 8
Saves: 4 / 4
Corner Kicks: 5 / 7
Fouls: 10 / 8
Offside: 2 / 2
MEX – Raymundo Fulgencio (Caution) 29th minute
USA – Brooklyn Raines (Caution) 29
USA – Mauricio Cuevas (Sent Off) 83
Referee: Fernando Vejar (CHI)
Assistant Referee 1: Carlos Poblete (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Alan Sandoval (CHI)
Fourth Official: Jesus Cartagena (PER)