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Amer. Exports: Olympic hopeful Corona warns group rivals

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – For Club Tijuana’s Joe Benny Corona, making the London Olympics would be the icing on the cake after a whirlwind couple of years. Still, the forward is not taking anything for granted following his call up to the US squad that will compete in CONCACAF’s Olympic qualifying tournament later this month.

“I’m more than motivated,” Corona told the Tijuana club website before jetting off to join coach Caleb Porter and the rest of his teammates on Monday. “The group is really hungry to go to London, but we know we have to take it step by step.”

The US call-up means Corona will likely miss his club’s next four games, but the 21-year-old attacker is firmly focused on US duty.

“We have to treat each rival as if it was a final,” added Corona. “We have to go from game to game thinking about the next rival, which is Cuba, and prepare ourselves in the best way to go out and win.”

Corona has been in good form for the Xolos this season, starting five games and scoring one goal, as the team has surprised expectations to become serious playoff contenders.

The forward is the only player based in Latin America in the US Olympic squad, despite Club Tijuana’s Greg Garza and Club Mérida’s Isaac Acuña being called up for different preparation camps for the tournament.

The United States are in Group A with Cuba, Canada and El Salvador. All games in the group will be played at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., from March 22-26. Two teams from Group A will advance to the semifinals and finals, which will be played on March 31 and April 2 at Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America. He can be reached via tom.marshall.mex@gmail.com.

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