KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Oct. 3, 2015) - The U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team clinched a spot in the all-important Olympic Qualifying Championship semifinal with a 6-1 win against Cuba at Sporting Park.
The win, combined with the USA’s tournament opening victory against Canada on Thursday secures a top two spot for the team in Group A. With one group game left to play on Tuesday, Oct. 6, against Panama at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, the USA can claim top position in the group. The winners of Saturday’s two semifinals qualify directly for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, while the winner of the third place match will face Colombia in a one-game playoff for a final Olympic berth.
Jerome Kiesewetter bagged a pair of goals, and was joined on the scoresheet by Emerson Hyndman, Alonso Hernandez, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga. Luis Gil assisted on two of the scores.
The USA was dominant from the first whistle and nearly turned in a shutout, but conceded a consolation goal in the final moments of stoppage time.
Goal Scoring Summary:
USA-Cameron Carter-Vickers (Luis Gil) 16th minute: A foul set the U.S. up with a free kick from the left and Luis Gil stepped up to take it. The midfielder curled a confident ball into the box and Carter-Vickers jumped in front of his defender, rising high to head the ball down into the lower left corner to give the U.S. an early lead. USA 1, CUB 0 (SEE GOAL)
USA-Matt Miazga (Matt Polster) 35th minute: Following a corner kick, Matt Polster collected a half cleared ball out wide on the right and whipped in a strong, curving cross to the far post, where only Miazga could get to it. The center back directed his headed attempt back across goal and into the left side netting to double the USA’s lead. USA 2, CUB 0 (SEE GOAL)
USA-Jerome Kiesewetter (Jordan Morris) 38th minute: Just after the team had scored its second goal, Kiesewetter made it three. It started with Luis Gil, who threaded a ball up to the speedy Jordan Morris. Morris knifed through the box, drawing the goalie to the right side of the box before centering an unselfish pass to Kiesewetter, who tapped in for the third U.S. goal of the game. USA 3, CUB 0 (SEE GOAL)
USA-Jerome Kiesewetter (Marc Pelosi) 49th minute: Morris brought the ball down the left and got it to Marc Pelosi. The defense collapsed on Pelosi and he muscled a cross through the opposition, which found Kiesewetter, who again calmly tapped in for his second goal of the game. USA 4, CUB 0 (SEE GOAL)
USA-Emerson Hyndman (Luis Gil): Luis Gil and Emerson Hyndman combined around the top left corner of the penalty area to set up the score. Hyndman laid it off to Gil, at the left edge of the box and Gil quickly back-heeled to the breaking Hyndman. Hyndman confidently smashed a shot into the right corner to score his first goal with the U-23 MNT. USA 5, CUB 0 (SEE GOAL)
USA-Alonso Hernandez (Gboly Ariyibi): Ariyibi made a move to the right of the box and crossed back to Hernandez who was freed on the left. With ample time, Hernandez took a controlling touch and blasted a shot past the diving ‘keeper into the lower left corner USA 6, CUB 0 (SEE GOAL)
CUB-Daniel Luis: In the closing moments of the game, Luis took a chance from a distance, which was well placed and bent into the upper left corner. USA 6, CUB 1 FINAL (SEE GOAL)
-U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U.S. U-23 MNT vs. Cuba
Date: Oct. 3, 2015
Competition: 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship – Group A
Venue: Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kansas
Kickoff: 4 p.m. CT
Weather: 67 Degrees; Clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 3 3 6
CUB 0 1 1
USA – Cameron Carter-Vickers (Luis Gil) 17th minute
USA – Matthew Miazga (Matthew Polster) 36
USA – Jerome Kiesewetter (Jordan Morris) 38
USA – Jerome Kiesewetter (Marc Pelosi) 49
USA – Emerson Hyndman (Luis Gil) 69
USA – Alonso Hernandez (Gboly Ariyibi) 76
CUB – Daniel Luis 90+3
USA: 1-Zack Steffen; 13-Matt Polster (20-Gboly Ariyibi, 60), 3-Matt Miazga, 4-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 2-Boyd Okwuonu; 10-Luis Gil, 6-Wil Trapp (capt.), 15-Marc Pelosi, 8-Emerson Hyndman; 17-Jerome Kiesewetter (19-Maki Tall,53), 9-Jordan Morris (11-Alonso Hernandez, 60)
Subs Not Used: 5-Will Packwood, 7-Dillon Serna, 14-Fatai Alashe, 16-Gedion Zelalem, 18-Charlie Horton
Head Coach: Andi Herzog
CUB: 1-Sandy Mustelier; 2-Andy Ruiz, 6-Yosel Guillen, 15-Adrian Diz Pe, 18-Abel Colon; 4-Yolexis Mora (17-Pedro Anderson, 69), 7-Arichel Mora, 16-Daniel Luis, 19-David Soler; 9-Maykel Azcuy, 10-Hector Sanchez (20-Osmany Capote, 71)
Subs Not Used: 12-Elier Pozo, 13-Delvis Lumpuy
Head Coach: Raul Gonzalez
Stats Summary: USA / CUB
Shots: 16 / 6
Shots on Goal: 8 / 2
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 2 / 14
Offside: 2 / 1
Fouls: 7 / 6
CUB – David Urgelles (caution) 15th minute
Referee: Juan Carlos Guerra (GUA)
1st Referee: Ronaldo De La Cruz (GUA)
2nd Referee: Israel Valenciano (MEX)
4th official: Luis Santander (MEX)
Man of the Match: TBDRead more
On the field, Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers are a working tandem. In this CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, the pair of center backs know that when they’re on the field they’ll need to combine together to stop the opposition. The two are youngest players on the team, but are ready to step up as the U-23’s, looking to punch their ticket to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, need them most.
If the pair share the field in the Qualifying tournament, it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve done so in the red, white and blue.
“Cam and I have known each other for a while now,” Miazga said. “We worked together in the U-20 cycle for quite a while and played together in the U-20 World Cup and it was good. Now we’re up to the U-23 team and it’s another good step for us and we’re looking forward to it.”
Earlier this year the pair proved to be a dynamic defensive duo, leading a stifling U-20 UMNT defense that advanced to the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals.
Carter-Vickers (center) and Miazga (left) helped the USA pitch three shutouts in five games at the 2015 U-20 World Cup.
Now they know they have another big challenge that comes in the form of Olympic Qualifying. For them it’s another opportunity to play together on the field. The two know that in their position at center back, chemistry is important. It is something they’re constantly trying to build, on and off the field.
“We get on really well,” Carter-Vickers said. “Off the field, we’re roommates and even when we’re not playing, we’re talking about soccer. That helps us understand each other’s game and makes us even better when we do step back on the field.”
“We’re really just comfortable with each other off the field so, on the field, it makes us that much better,” Miazga added. “It’s very helpful when we have to cover each other and give instructions and work together to organize the team.”
The two center backs continue to grow accustomed to lining up next to each other and got the opportunity to do so again in the team’s final Olympic Qualifying preparation camp this past September in England.
“The more a center back pair plays together, the better they’ll get,” Carter-Vickers said. “Each game coming into your position, you see how each other handles the opposition and you can work with each other.”
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20-year-old Miazga and 17-year-old Carter-Vickers will be two of the youngest players in the tournament, but their youth, they say, won’t stop them from being leaders on the pitch.
“I think in general we’re both confident players, so we’re confident on the field and that helps us communicate with guys and organize and lead,” Miazga said. “Obviously we were leaders with the U-20’s and we’re going to try to lead and organize here as well because our position demands that. We’ll do our best and hopefully do well.”
“You also don’t just lead vocally,” Carter-Vickers, who captains Tottenham’s U-21 team said. “You can lead in the way that you play and in how much you give for your team.”
“We’re ready to give it all for our team,” Miazga concluded.Read more
U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Andi Herzog spoke with ussoccer.com about the USA’s CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying roster and the journey to earning a spot in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games.
ussoccer.com: How did you go about assembling this roster?
Andi Herzog: “For us it was important that we find the right balance between attacking players and defensive-minded players. Because there are no FIFA dates for the first week of the tournament, there were challenges. We had discussions with a lot of teams, and while some clubs didn’t release their players overall we received a lot of support, especially from MLS. Until yesterday we were focused on getting the roster together, and there was a lot of competition for spots. Of course a few players will be disappointed that they didn’t make the roster and I understand, but we can only have 20 players on the roster and only 17 field players, so they weren’t easy decisions. Now we have to be focused on the games and we have to win.”
ussoccer.com: Why is qualifying for the Olympics so important?
AH: “With every youth national team, it doesn’t matter if it’s the U-17, U-20, or with the Olympic team, you always want to compete at the highest level with the best teams in the world. For everyone, I think it’s a dream to participate in the Olympic Games and it’s a great opportunity for us. But first we have to do our job and win the first game against Canada, which would make it a little bit easier for us because with a good start you get more and more confidence.”
ussoccer.com: What are the strengths of this group of players?
AH: “I think over the last couple of months the players had a very good working attitude and a lot of passion. They did very well and worked really hard and made it easier for us. This is a real ambitious group of players and hopefully we do well in the qualification.”
ussoccer.com: You made a point of scheduling challenging friendlies over the course of the year. How important were those in getting this group ready for this tournament?
AH: “These games were important for the players to make an impression. We got a couple new players in after the U-20 World Cup, and we had a camp in England to see them and the other players together. The Toulon Tournament was very special and we finished third out of 10 good teams, so I was impressed. For us that tournament was important because we had four games in seven days, and playing every two days will be similar to the schedule we have in Qualifying. We play on Oct. 1 and Oct. 3, and then on Oct. 6, so that means we have to be ready to mix the players from game to game and we got a good training run at that in Toulon.”
usssoccer.com: How important will the support of the fans be in this tournament that is played on U.S. soil?
AH: “It’s huge. For sure there will be a couple of moments where we need support from the fans to push the team. Overall I think everyone is excited. After the Men’s National Team qualified for the World Cup in 2014, and with the Women’s National Team winning this summer, this would be the next big thing for U.S. Soccer. We have a younger group that wants to show that the players in the U.S. have a really good quality.”