BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, March 4, 2013
The US US-20 national team came up short in the final of the CONCACAF U-20 championship falling to Mexico 3-1 in extra time in Puebla.
The US team entered into the game shorthanded with Luis Gil, Jerome Kiesewetter, and team captain Caleb Stanko all having returned to their clubs following qualification. In addition, Eric Miller and Daniel Cuevas, one of the breakout starts of the tournament were injured. As a result, coach Tab Ramos had just Brandon Allen and Boyd Okwounu as the only two field players on his bench.
The game began fast paced and Mexico took an early lead in just the 4th minute when Jesus Corona got past the US defense and shot over Cody Cropper for a 1-0 lead.
The US would soon equalize in the 9th minute when Mexico's Hedgardo Marin was called for handling Benji Joya shot in the box. Joya stepped up and took the penalty himself and converted to even the score at 1-1.
From then on the US and Mexico played to a largely even and well contested game with each team earning several quality chances.
In the 60th minute it appeared the United States had earned its second penalty of the game when Jose Villarreal was taken down in the box. Instead the referee called play-on and the teams continued their stalemate.
It wasn't until the 100th minute when Mexico broke the deadlock when Julio Gomez scored on a spectacular bicycle kick off a corner kick to send the home crowd into a frenzy.
In the 113th minute with the US team tired and only able to make one change, Jorge Espericueta converted a penalty after Juan Ocegueda was called for a foul in the box. On the same play, US defender Shane O'Neil was sent off for a separate foul.
The US U20 team walked away with second place medals from the tournament but ensured qualification last week following a 4-2 win over Canada.