COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (Oct. 6, 2015) - The U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team moved on to the semifinal round of the 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament as the top seed out of Group A after a 4-0 win against Panama at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Panama gamely held the USA scoreless through the first half, but the Yanks' depth told in the second half as Jerome Kiesewetter and Jordan Morris entered at halftime to spur the U.S. attack. An own goal by Panama defender Fidel Escobar in the 50th minute opened the floodgates as Kiesewetter and Morris both bagged a goal a piece in the ensuing six minutes to give the U.S. a quick 3-0 lead before Luis Gil capped the scoring from the penalty spot in the 71st minute.
The match was also the first of the tournament for goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who had been with his club Molde FK during the USA's first two games, but entered the lineup seamlessly to deliver the team's first shutout of the competition.
The USA will face the loser of Group B's Mexico-Honduras clash (if the teams tie, the U.S. will play Honduras) in the first semifinal which kicks off from Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah at 1 p.m. MT (3 p.m. ET) on Oct. 10. The second semifinal will follow immediately after from the same stadium and both matches will be broadcast on Telemundo.
Goal Scoring Summary:
USA-Fidel Escobar (own goal) 50th minute: Gboly Ariyibi did the work on the left side, cutting past one defender and speeding by another to free himself to send a cross into the box. Ariyibi hit a low hard ball in towards a breaking Jordan Morris; Escobar cut in front and attempted to clear it away, but his clearance ended up in the back of the net. USA 1, PAN 0
USA-Luis Gil (penalty kick) 71st minute: Kiesewetter set up the penalty, making a number of nifty moves to get into the box, before being brought down. Luis Gil stepped up to take the penalty, his second of the tournament, and confidently tucked it in. USA 4, PAN 0 (FINAL)
-U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. U-23 MNT vs. Panama
Date: Oct. 6, 2015
Competition: 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship – Group A
Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park; Commerce City, Colo.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. MT
Weather: 55 degrees; Light rain
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 4 4
PAN 0 0 0
USA-Fidel Escobar (own goal) 50th minute
USA-Jerome Kiesewetter (Jordan Morris) 53
USA-Jordan Morris (Jerome Kiesewetter) 56
USA-Luis Gil (penalty kick) 71
USA: 12-Ethan Horvath; 2-Boyd Okwuonu, 5-Will Packwood, 4-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 7-Dillon Serna; 13-Matt Polster (8-Emerson Hyndman, 59), 10-Luis Gil (capt.), 16-Gedion Zelalem (9-Jordan Morris, 46); 19-Maki Tall (17-Jerome Kiesewetter, 46), 11-Alonso Hernandez, 20-Gboly Ariyibi
Subs Not Used: 1-Zack Steffen, 3-Matt Miazga, 6-Wil Trapp, 14-Fatai Alashe, 15-Marc Pelosi, 18-Charlie Horton
Head Coach: Andi Herzog
PAN: 1-Elieser Powell; 3-Kevin Galvan, 4-Michael Murillo, 6-Fidel Escobar, 14-Roberto Chen; 5-Pedro Jeanine (capt.), 10-Miguel Camargo (8-Jhamal Rodriguez, 55), 11-Edgar Barcenas, 18-Josiel Nunez (15-Francisco Narbon, 73); 9-Abdiel Arroyo, 19-Jorman Aguilar (16-Justin Simons, 85)
Subs Not Used: 2-Chin Hormechea, 7-Jesus Gonzalez, 12-Jamie de Garcia, 13-Jesus Araya, 20-Orlando Mosquera
Head Coach: Leonardo Pipino
Stats Summary: USA / PAN
Shots: 18 / 13
Shots on Goal: 7 / 4
Saves: 4 / 4
Corner Kicks: 3 / 4
Offside: 3 / 0
Fouls: 11 / 12
PAN-Kevin Galvan (caution) 65th minute
PAN-Abdiel Aroyo (caution) 70
Referee: Hugo Cruz (CRC)
1st Referee: Carlos Fernandez (CRC)
2nd Referee: Jairo Morales (PUR)
4th official: Javier Santos (PUR)
On the field, Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers are a working tandem. In this CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, the pair of center backs know that when they’re on the field they’ll need to combine together to stop the opposition. The two are youngest players on the team, but are ready to step up as the U-23’s, looking to punch their ticket to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, need them most.
If the pair share the field in the Qualifying tournament, it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve done so in the red, white and blue.
“Cam and I have known each other for a while now,” Miazga said. “We worked together in the U-20 cycle for quite a while and played together in the U-20 World Cup and it was good. Now we’re up to the U-23 team and it’s another good step for us and we’re looking forward to it.”
Earlier this year the pair proved to be a dynamic defensive duo, leading a stifling U-20 UMNT defense that advanced to the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals.
Carter-Vickers (center) and Miazga (left) helped the USA pitch three shutouts in five games at the 2015 U-20 World Cup.
Now they know they have another big challenge that comes in the form of Olympic Qualifying. For them it’s another opportunity to play together on the field. The two know that in their position at center back, chemistry is important. It is something they’re constantly trying to build, on and off the field.
“We get on really well,” Carter-Vickers said. “Off the field, we’re roommates and even when we’re not playing, we’re talking about soccer. That helps us understand each other’s game and makes us even better when we do step back on the field.”
“We’re really just comfortable with each other off the field so, on the field, it makes us that much better,” Miazga added. “It’s very helpful when we have to cover each other and give instructions and work together to organize the team.”
The two center backs continue to grow accustomed to lining up next to each other and got the opportunity to do so again in the team’s final Olympic Qualifying preparation camp this past September in England.
“The more a center back pair plays together, the better they’ll get,” Carter-Vickers said. “Each game coming into your position, you see how each other handles the opposition and you can work with each other.”
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20-year-old Miazga and 17-year-old Carter-Vickers will be two of the youngest players in the tournament, but their youth, they say, won’t stop them from being leaders on the pitch.
“I think in general we’re both confident players, so we’re confident on the field and that helps us communicate with guys and organize and lead,” Miazga said. “Obviously we were leaders with the U-20’s and we’re going to try to lead and organize here as well because our position demands that. We’ll do our best and hopefully do well.”
“You also don’t just lead vocally,” Carter-Vickers, who captains Tottenham’s U-21 team said. “You can lead in the way that you play and in how much you give for your team.”
“We’re ready to give it all for our team,” Miazga concluded.Read more
U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Andi Herzog spoke with ussoccer.com about the USA’s CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying roster and the journey to earning a spot in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games.
ussoccer.com: How did you go about assembling this roster?
Andi Herzog: “For us it was important that we find the right balance between attacking players and defensive-minded players. Because there are no FIFA dates for the first week of the tournament, there were challenges. We had discussions with a lot of teams, and while some clubs didn’t release their players overall we received a lot of support, especially from MLS. Until yesterday we were focused on getting the roster together, and there was a lot of competition for spots. Of course a few players will be disappointed that they didn’t make the roster and I understand, but we can only have 20 players on the roster and only 17 field players, so they weren’t easy decisions. Now we have to be focused on the games and we have to win.”
ussoccer.com: Why is qualifying for the Olympics so important?
AH: “With every youth national team, it doesn’t matter if it’s the U-17, U-20, or with the Olympic team, you always want to compete at the highest level with the best teams in the world. For everyone, I think it’s a dream to participate in the Olympic Games and it’s a great opportunity for us. But first we have to do our job and win the first game against Canada, which would make it a little bit easier for us because with a good start you get more and more confidence.”
ussoccer.com: What are the strengths of this group of players?
AH: “I think over the last couple of months the players had a very good working attitude and a lot of passion. They did very well and worked really hard and made it easier for us. This is a real ambitious group of players and hopefully we do well in the qualification.”
ussoccer.com: You made a point of scheduling challenging friendlies over the course of the year. How important were those in getting this group ready for this tournament?
AH: “These games were important for the players to make an impression. We got a couple new players in after the U-20 World Cup, and we had a camp in England to see them and the other players together. The Toulon Tournament was very special and we finished third out of 10 good teams, so I was impressed. For us that tournament was important because we had four games in seven days, and playing every two days will be similar to the schedule we have in Qualifying. We play on Oct. 1 and Oct. 3, and then on Oct. 6, so that means we have to be ready to mix the players from game to game and we got a good training run at that in Toulon.”
usssoccer.com: How important will the support of the fans be in this tournament that is played on U.S. soil?
AH: “It’s huge. For sure there will be a couple of moments where we need support from the fans to push the team. Overall I think everyone is excited. After the Men’s National Team qualified for the World Cup in 2014, and with the Women’s National Team winning this summer, this would be the next big thing for U.S. Soccer. We have a younger group that wants to show that the players in the U.S. have a really good quality.”