The USA and Mexico U-20 squads were easily the best teams of WCQ. They would collide in Puebla, in order to crown a regional champion. Mexico is the previous champion, with a 2011 U-20 sweep of the CONCACAF.
The game started off with fireworks. In the 4th minute, Corona dazzled when he split the American defense, and chipped in the first goal.
The celebration was very short lived, when the referee felt that a Mexican touched the ball in the box four minutes later. Benjamin Joya took the penalty and gave the Americans an equalizer.
The game was very much back and forth, though Mexico was in control for most of the game. The USA keeper, Cody Cropper, deserves much praise as he was solid all night. If he didn’t make a few clutch saves, the U.S. could have seen a multiple goal defeat in regular time.
Moreover, the U.S. would fight very valiantly against Mexico, and the game needed extra minutes to crown the champion.
Mexico came out in extra time with a lot of energy. They created several chances, but again, could not get past Cropper. It was the 99th minute when Mexico was given a corner. The kick found its way into the box, and Julio Gómez did a beauty of a bicycle kick to score Mexico’s second goal. The goal was eerily similar to his goal against Germany in the 2011 U-17 World cup.
Mexico from then on was completely dominant. Just a few minutes after the Gómez goal, Corona won a penalty, and Esperícueta scored the third with ease.
Mexico did score a fourth goal, but the referee claims Mexico was offside. The replay showed no offside in any way. However, Mexico would claim the title by winning 3-1. Afterward, Antonio Briseño would be named “Best player of the tournament.”
Much credit to the Americans. They did not lay down and let Mexico cruise to a victory. It was a perfect rivalry style match, and with many scrums throughout the game…this rivalry looks like it’s going to stay.
- El Salvador