The USA-Mexico match-up is always a tense one. With U-20 World Cup Qualifying on the line, this match was no different. In a low-scoring battle, the Americans proved the better prepared side, and came away from Estadio Saprissa with a 1-0 victory.
Against a confident and organized American team, Mexico struggled to posses the ball, and looked unprepared. They started to heat up in the last 20 minutes, but were unable to create any meaningful chances.
The Yank’s goal came off of a beautiful corner kick from RSL’s Brooks Lennon. From the near side, his right footed kick found the head of captain Erik Palmer-Brown, who sent the ball off of a defender and into the net. Justen Glad had a close chance, almost scoring in the 63rd minute. His header from a corner was saved by the Mexican keeper, but was an impressive effort.
Palmer-Brown earned Man of the Match honors for his goal and solid midfield play. Lining up just in front of the back four, Palmer-Brown put in a solid 90 minutes as the anchor for the tenacious midfield which snuffed out most of Mexico’s attacking prowess.
In fact, the high press of the Yank’s defense prevented Mexico from getting a single shot on target. Mexico looked unorganized at times, and were totally lost in the final third. Justen Glad and Danilo Acosta both had clean shifts on the left side of the back line.
Brooks Lennon impressed with his set pieces, and had a few dangerous moments while playing on the wing. His assist on the winning goal was an impressive one, and he had a few other half chances. He looked confident, and will be a valuable player this coming season.
Acosta was solid as left back. He rarely got beaten down the flank, and his interplay with the center midfielders and wingers was effective. Both Acosta and Glad have played left back for the US U-20’s, and may be valuable as added depth at that position for RSL if necessary, given their solid performances.
Sebastian Saucedo remained on the bench, but his good form is undeniable. We will most likely see him play the next U-20 match alongside the rest of the RSL players. We will be seeing a lot of these young stars in Claret and Cobalt this season, and hopefully in seasons to come.
Next up, the U-20’s face El Salvador on Friday. With either a win or draw, they will earn their berth in the U-20 World Cup in Korea later this summer.
The U-20 starters:
Fossey, Redding, Glad, Acosta
Lennon, Ebobisse, De La Torre