US REBOUNDS VERSUS WHITECAPS
For the second consecutive day at the Dallas Cup, the US U20 national team was reduced to 10 men following a first half red card but in this game they were able score early and hold off the Vancouver Whitecaps for a 1-0 victory.
Having lost their opening game 1-0 to archrival Mexico less than 24 hours earlier, US head coach Thomas Rongen started nine new players. Only Zarek Valentin and Moises Orozco were in the starting lineup against Vancouver after starting in the opening game.
The US got off to a terrific start and scored in the opening minute of the game when Jose Altamirano beat his man on the right side and sent in a terrific cross which a streaking Moises Orozco was able to head in from 6 meters out.
Following the goal, the US would continue to dominate with Orozco having a hand in several scoring opportunities. In the 8th minute, Orozco sent a perfect into forward Will Bates leaving Bates alone against Vancouver's keeper Brian Sylvestre. Bates however would shoot wide.
In the 14th minute Orozco found a streaking Bates on the left side who was then able to send in a perfect cross that Ryan Finley would head over the bar. Just four minutes later, Orozco and Bates created another great sequence only this time Altamirano was unable to convert Bates' final pass.
Orozco was clearly the most effective attacking player for the US team against Vancouver and he attributed his strong play today largely because of a switch in position from his game against Mexico.
"I played a different position today than yesterday," Orozco said of his position switch. "Today I was an attacking midfielder and yesterday I was a center forward. Today I felt a little more comfortable because I was on the ball more. It felt better getting the ball more and getting more involved in the game."
In the 40th minute however, the US would once again suffer red card when goalkeeper Justin Luthy took down Vancouver's Ethan Gage just a few feet outside the box. The referee quickly reached into his back pocket and showed a red. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who played very well against Mexico and saved a penalty in that game, entered into the game for the US.
Luthy's foul not only reduced the US to 10 men but it also gave Vancouver a dangerous free kick. That free kick would result in a dangerous chance as the initial shot hit the wall but a second shot from close range deflected and hit a diving MacMath in the face.
"It's always tough coming into the middle of the game when the goalkeeper gets a red card," MacMath said of the save only second after entering the game. "But I was fortunate to get hit in the face and prevent them from getting a goal."
The second half saw Vancouver use its man advantage to create some chances however the US defense held firm and prevented few dangerous opportunities.
Midfielder Will Packwood, who was making his first start for the US U20 national team, was very effective in breaking up Vancouver's attempts to move through the middle of the field.
After defending for the first 15 minutes of the second half, the US would regain most of the possession despite playing a man down.
Vancouver's attack was largely revolved around their American right mid Joseph Claude Gyau. Gyau, who is also in consideration for the US U20 team, was able to use impressive dribbling to attack American defenders however he was unable to connect on his crosses to force MacMath into making any difficult saves.
Vancouver's best chance of the game was in the final minutes of the second half when Gyau received the ball in the center of the field just outside the box. He pushed the ball to his right and beat his defender. But once in all alone against MacMath he shot the ball wide of the right post. Shortly after the shot, the game would end.
"I tried to get around the ball but at the speed I was going I couldn't really get my foot around it," Gyau said of the miss. "I should have concentrated more and just buried it."
The US was largely successful in containing the crafty Gyau by preventing him from getting as many chances as he would have liked. For Gyau, it made for a frustrating afternoon.
"I was a little frustrated during the game because I wasn't getting the ball as much as I like to," Gyau said of the game. "But when I got the ball it was pretty good. It was fun playing against my old team. I wish I had scored. But it's okay."
For the US, they were put into making challenging adjustments much earlier than expected. Prior to the red card, their offense was able to dominate through the strong play of Altamirano, Ruben Gonzalez, and Orozco. Following the red card, it was the strong defense of Packwood that was most apparent.
For the California-born Orozco, the game was memorable as it set the stage for his first ever international goal for the US. The chance to score the deciding goal for his country was a special experience.
"It was great," Orozco said proudly. "Not just the goal but it gave us the victory which is all that matters. Every goal feels good but today's felt even better because it was for my country."
The US will conclude group play on Wednesday when they take on the youth team from Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt.