PUEBLA, Mexico (Feb. 18, 2013) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team earned an important three points to open the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship with a 2-1 victory against Haiti at Estadio Olímpico Universitario Lobos BUAP.
A pair of Tar Heels saw action in the opener Monday night as Boyd Okwuonu earned the start at right back and played the full 90 for the red, white and blue. Former Tar Heel and first round MLS SuperDraft selection Mikey Lopez came on in the 63rd minute as a substitute.
Luis Gil and Daniel Cuevas each scored first-half goals to provide the USA with the early lead in Group A of the tournament. Next up for the USA is its second group match at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 22, at Estadio Olímpico Universitario Lobos. The match will be televised live on FOX Soccer, and fans can follow on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on twitter @ussoccerynt
The top two teams in each of the four three-team groups will qualify for the all-important quarterfinals. The four quarterfinal winners will qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be played in Turkey later this year. The U.S. is looking to qualify for its 13th FIFA U-20 World Cup.
“It was a difficult match for us,” U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos said. “We knew that Haiti had very good players. I think we did a good job in the first half, coming out strong and trying to put the game away. I felt that if we didn’t get that third goal before halftime there was a good chance if [Haiti] got a goal that somehow it would turn into a game and it did.”
The U.S. wasted little time gaining the upper hand when Cuevas got around his defender on the left sideline, but inside and was tripped just inside the penalty box by a Haiti defender. Gil took the penalty kick in the third minute and slotted it into the right side of the net for the 1-0 lead as Haiti goalkeeper Ronald Elusma dove in the wrong direction. For Gil, it marked his third career goal with the U-20s in seven games.
Gil almost tallied a second goal when he made a darting run into the box on Jose Villarreal’s corner kick from the right side in the 17th minute, but his low header bounced hard off the pitch and over the crossbar.
Despite being down a goal, Haiti never wavered and pushed into the attack with some quick runs up front and created some half-chances in front of the U.S. net. The U.S. was able to withstand the attack and increased their lead in the 26th minute.
Gil started the attack from the middle with a pass to Mario Rodriguez, and from the right flank he crossed to a wide-open Cuevas at the back post. Cuevas had time to settle and powered home his shot into the upper right side netting for a 2-0 lead. Cuevas has scored three career goals for the U-20s in 12 games.
Haiti came out on the attack after halftime, going with three men in the back and finally broke free with a goal in the 49th minute. Wilberne Augusmat, who was dangerous all night, got the ball inside the penalty area, was able to get around a U.S. defender and strike and impressive close-range shot that was just out of the reach of USA goalkeeper Cody Cropper.
Haiti had its share of chances to find an equalizer throughout the remainder of the second half, but the U.S. defense was able close down most attacks on Cropper’s goal. The best opportunity came from Haiti’s Jhon Estama, who plays for the New York Red Bulls Development Academy U-17/18 team. He had a point-blank shot in the right side of the box in the 61st minute, but his attempt missed the upper right corner.
- Monday’s USA-Haiti matchup was the lone game in Group A of the tournament. Play resumes when Costa Rica faces Haiti on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
- The U.S. U-20 MNT improved to 3-0-0 against Haiti in CONCACAF Youth Tournaments and Championships.
- For the seventh consecutive CONCACAF Youth Tournament or Championship, the USA opened with a victory. The last time the U.S. didn’t start the tournament with a win was a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica on Aug. 5, 1998, in the 17th CONCACAF Youth Championship. The USA trounced Canada and Trinidad & Tobago in the next two matches to win Group B.
- The USA starting lineup on Monday featured eight players who had played in at least one game for a U.S. Soccer Development Academy team.
- Center back Caleb Stanko wore the captain’s armband on Monday.
- Jerome Kiesewetter replaced Luis Gil in the 77th minute. It was Kiesewetter’s six international appearance at this age group and it marks the fourth year he has earned at least one cap for the U-20s since debuting in 2010.
- Cody Cropper made three saves for the U.S. en route to his third win with the U-20 age group. Cropper, like Kiesewetter, has now appeared for the U-20s for the past four years. Cropper played in his 10th game for the U.S. U-20 MNT on Monday.
- Midfielder Mikey Lopez made his 12th career U-20 appearance when he replaced Jose Villarreal in the 63rd minute.
- Kiesewetter and Lopez each received a yellow card and Haiti’s Esso Faudelyn Amicy and Alexandre Charles also were shown a yellow card. The next violation for all four players will result in a one-game suspension in the tournament.
- Juan Pablo Ocegueda made his ninth U-20 appearance as an 86th-minute sub for Mario Rodriguez.
-U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team vs. Haiti
Date: Feb. 18, 2013
Competition: 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship
Venue: Estadio Olímpico Universitario Lobos BUAP; Puebla, Mexico
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 73 degrees, mostly clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
HAI 0 1 1
USA – Luis Gil (penalty kick) 3rd minute
USA – Daniel Cuevas (Mario Rodriguez) 26
HAI – Wilberne Augusmat 49
USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 2-Boyd Okwuonu, 4-Caleb Stanko (capt.), 5-Shane O’Neill, 14-Javan Torre; 8-Benji Joya, 6-Wil Trapp, 10-Luis Gil (11-Jerome Kiesewetter, 79); 7-Jose Villarreal (15-Mikey Lopez, 64), 9-Mario Rodriguez (3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda, 88), 20-Daniel Cuevas
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Kendall McIntosh, 16-Dillon Serna, 17-Danny Garcia, 18-Eric Miller, 19-Brandon Allen, 22-Zack Steffen
Head coach: Tab Ramos
HAI: 12-Ronald Elusma; 2-Jude Saint-Louis (capt.), 3-Ismael Voltaire, 4-Charles Alexandre, 8-Evens Saint-Jean (13-Duckens Nazon, 60), 9-Chery Johnley, 10-Amicy Esso Faudelyn, 14-Luckner Horat Jr., 15-Wilberne Augusmat (6-Renald Metellus, 62), 17-Jean Dany Maurice, 20-Jhon Estama (7-Dumy Fede, 80)
Substitutions Not Used: 1-Marc Donald Mervil, 5-Ylosier Givemilord, 11-Alfred Sonthonax, 16-Paulson Pierre, 18-Eltinor Saturne, 19-Spencer Desir
Head coach: Manuel Navarro
Stats Summary: USA / HAI
Shots: 6 / 9
Shots on Goal: 4 / 4
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 4 / 9
Fouls: 6 / 4
Offside: 0 / 5
HAI – Amicy Esso Faudelyn (caution) 28th minute
USA – Jerome Kiesewetter (caution) 89
USA – Mikey Lopez (caution) 90
HAI – Charles Alexandre (caution) 90+3
Referee: Jafeth Perea (PAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Gabriel Victoria (PAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Jairo Morales (PUR)
Fourth Official: Javier Santos (PUR)