PUEBLA, Mexico — With all the talk about how much young talent is being churned out of Mexico, it seems US players wanted to make the point that Americans have some quality of their own coming through the ranks on Sunday.
Mexico may have taken the CONCACAF U-20 Championship after a 3-1 victory in overtime, but the US side handed them by far their sternest test of the competition and gave El Tri as good as it got during regulation before ultimately fading.
“We showed many people out there that the US does have talent and we’re just going to keep on working and hopefully the World Cup goes great,” said goalscorer and captain Benji Joya (above) after the game.
Columbus Crew Midfielder Wil Trapp, who was named to the tournament's best XI, concurred.
“It’s something that’s overlooked a lot, I think,” opined Trapp on the quality of young players in the US. “I think we have a good shot coming into the World Cup and this was a big step towards it.”
Joya pointed out that the US didn’t have players like Caleb Stanko, Eric Miller, Luis Gil and Daniel Cuevas for the final game and that he had no problem putting his hand up to take the equalizing penalty in front of the raucous crowd in the 10th minute.
“I wasn’t nervous at all, it was just a PK in a normal game,” said Joya, who was also named to competition's best team. “I didn’t hear anything and I was just concentrating on scoring.”
The youngsters' attitude is one that coach Tab Ramos would no doubt be delighted with, as is the disappointment Trapp showed on not winning the game that would have given the Americans their first U-20 CONCACAF title.
“We wanted to win,” Trapp lamented. “To win a game in Mexico against that crowd would’ve been awesome, but we’re not going to get too beat up about it.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.