CARSON, Calif. — It was one week later, but the result was awfully similar. The United States, with Jordan Morris scoring again, defeated Mexico 3-0 in an Under-23 rematch on Wednesday of the match in San Antonio seven days ago.
Mario Rodriguez opened the scoring in the 48th minute off Luis Gil’s cross, marking the North Hollywood native’s second goal of the year for the U-23s. Christian Dean headed home a Dillon Serna free kick 10 minutes later to secure the magical scoreline every American fan craves when the U.S. plays El Tri.
Morris "ruined" it 10 minutes on from the second strike, knocking in a volley from close range for his second goal against Mexico in a week.
Here’s what else stood out as the U.S. U-23s won their second match in three tries under Andi Herzog:
A win is a win, especially against Mexico
The Americans showed good resilience after a shaky first half to secure the win. After withstanding several waves of Mexican pressure and looking for opportunities against the run of play, the U.S. reversed the momentum in the second half and won handily.
Mexico generally controlled the opening 45 minutes, with Ángel Zaldívar of second-tier club Coras and talented Toluca forward Marco Bueno — the sole holdover from last week’s game for El Tri — causing the most problems. U.S. goalkeeper Cody Cropper had to make a save within the first minute, extending low to his left as Zaldívar got on the end of a knockdown in the penalty area.
Taking advantage of a substitution-depleted Mexican side, the U.S. attacked more freely and struck three times in the second half. It wasn’t the best team performance by any stretch, but Herzog’s boys won’t mind a big win over Mexico to build confidence as a group moving forward.
U.S. lacking familiarity in second camp together
If the U.S. team looked unfamiliar with one another on the field, it’s because this match marked the culmination of just their second camp together under its permanent coach following a two-match stint in Europe in March. The team looked especially vulnerable in the back in the first half, before Bueno left the match.
Herzog trotted out the same system, a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield, as the senior team played a week earlier. Overall, the Americans stayed connected on the defensive side of the ball, with players filling gaps when necessary as their teammates ventured forward.
It took a while to get going in the attacking phase as well, and the U.S. never quite clicked in building possession from the back to its forwards. Despite scoring three goals, two on set pieces, the team’s focus moving forward should be on building its cohesiveness on the ball.
Both teams will look different when qualifiers start
The U.S. team in this camp couldn’t exactly be categorized as a “B” team, but several age-eligible players who could be key in the quest for Olympic gold didn’t make the trip. Julian Green was a late scratch after Hamburg responded to Herzog’s request for his release too late, while others were not allowed to leave their clubs for a friendly on a non-FIFA date.
Just three of the U.S.’s starters saw time for their club teams over the weekend: Gil, Rodriguez and Fatai Alashe. Two of them, Gil and Rodriguez, combined for the first goal of the game early in the second half, with the latter heading home off a cross.
Mexico’s team was even weaker than the U.S.’s in terms of its player pool, the group in California officially categorized as a U-22 team. Raúl Gutiérrez’s team is in the process of preparing for the Pan-America Games this summer before Olympic qualifiers in the fall.