US Under-23 national team lose 1-0 to England Under-21s in Olympic qualifying tune-up friendly

PRESTON, Eng. -- The US Under-23 national team lost a hard-fought game against the England U-21’s 1-0 on Thursday at Deepdale Stadium in the first of their final two warm-up games before the start of Olympic qualifying.

With five MLS players in the starting XI, US U-23 head coach Andi Herzog fielded a strong lineup. But it was the English side that had the better of the game, and the US were reduced to one serious shot on goal in the first half, with Mario Rodriguez coming closest for the visiting team.

Still, it looked like the US might secure a draw, but some defensive errors in the 71st minute allowed Manchester United’s James Wilson to sneak in and tap home the only goal of the game.

It could have gotten worse for the US immediately after, as a chipped shot left US goalkeeper Zack Steffen stranded, but the effort rebounded off the post. England kept pressing, but some fine work from Steffen and a block from New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga helped prevent things from getting worse.

Still, there were plenty of positives to take, with Columbus Crew SC midfielder Wil Trapp noting after the game, “I thought we defended well. I thought we were organized.”

Despite the loss, the US’ confidence is high heading into not only the next game against Qatar but also Olympic Qualifying.

“I think this team has just as much, if not more quality than anything we’re going to see in CONCACAF,” Trapp said.

The US did enough to impress the opposition as well, with England U-21 manager Gareth Southgate observing, “I like the athleticism, technically they’re sound and it’s always a tough game.”

Southgate also explained why these friendlies may be of such benefit to the US: “They’ve changed the system of play quite a lot, so it must be difficult for them to get that consistency.”

Also of note was Matt Polster’s first appearance for the side, with the Chicago Fire rookie putting in a solid 30-minute substitute appearance in his preferred center-midfield role. Trapp had nothing but good things to say of his fellow MLS player’s performance, adding “I’ve been really impressed with him, with Chicago this whole year, hard working, hard nosed, a lot of quality on the ball as well.”

US lineup vs. England:

Cody Cropper (Zack Steffen 45); Boyd Okwuonu (Oscar Sorto 60), Matt Miazga, Shane O’Neill (Cameron Carter-Vickers 60), Eric Miller (Dillon Serna 87); Jerome Kiesewetter, Emerson Hyndman (Matt Polster 60), Wil Trapp, Marc Pelosi (Gbol Aribiyi 87); Alonso Hernandez (Luis Gil 60), Mario Rodriguez (Rubio Rubin 60)