HIGHLIGHTS | MLS Homegrown Team 0-2 Mexico Under-20 Men’s National Team

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Mexico’s U-20 head coach Mario Arteaga didn’t have to search too long or too far for a motivational message to give to his team prior to Wednesday night's Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game.


He asked his players to look five miles north to Levi’s Stadium, where a little more than a month ago the Mexican senior team suffered a crushing and embarrassing 7-0 loss to Chile in the semifinals of Copa America Centenario.


Having hastily put together a team, boarded them on an airplane on Sunday and given only two training sessions to work with, Arteaga knew his team needed an emotional edge and the additional motivation to conquer the team of MLS Homegrowns.


“We have the same jersey and the same badge and we defend the same colors,” Arteaga said. “It’s a shared responsibility and of course this was a part of the [locker-room] talk. Right now you say 'Mexico' and the first thing that comes to mind is 7-0 [against Chile].


"So we took it as an example so that it doesn’t happen to us, and we tried and we were a little cautious in the sense that we tried to manage the game and being organized defensively to avoid anything like this from happening.”


The focus on defense paid off for Arteaga’s team, knowing full well the Homegrowns faced the same synergy challenges that come with an exhibition game accompanied by limited training opportunities. Mexico held the MLS Homegrowns to only a couple of truly dangerous offensive chances, while the U-20s used a penalty kick and a set piece deep in MLS territory to score their goals.


And Mexico had a trio of breakaway opportunities that would have widened the margin of victory were it not for the efforts of FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, who recently represented the Mexico U-20s.


“It was a fast game and fortunately the goals fell for us and this helped us to have more control of the game,” said Arteaga, praising Gonzalez and predicting him as a future start for El Tri's senior squad.


Also catching the attention of Arteaga: Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris, who came in for San Jose’s Tommy Thompson in the 62nd minute.


“[Morris] had already scored goals on the Olympic team and the senior national team,” Arteaga said. “This was the assignment today – that he doesn’t score on us and I think our defenders and holding midfielders came through.”


The chip on Mexico's shoulders was obvious in the performances of players like man of the match Luis Marquez, who showed it throughout the match. 


“Mexico vs. USA is always important and it’s always emotional,” Arteaga said. “We faced this game very seriously and despite the fact that it was a group that was just getting together, we came with this commitment to contribute something important to the national team and this was no exception. We are very happy with this 2-0. It was tight and complicated but in the end it was ours.”