The USA U20 squad closed out the 2021 Revelations Cup in Celaya, Mexico with a loss to the hosts, closing the book on their first step towards the 2023 U-20 World World Cup.
USA head coach Mike Varas heavily rotated his lineup for the third and final game of this tune-up tournament, with some players having returned early to their teams to prepare for the upcoming MLS playoffs.
This set up the pairing of Chicago Fire’s Brian Gutierrez and San Jose’s Cade Cowell to lead the attack, with Fire keeper Gabriel Slonina returning to goal and captaining the team.
The hosts were first on the board already in the sixth minute, after Arsenal youth product Marcelo Flores ran onto a pass that sprung him into the right side of the area, and unleashed a low rocket that left Slonina no chance to avoid the 1-0 lead to the hosts.
Cowell almost equalized for the Americans just before the 21-minute mark, finding space near the touchline and launching a shot towards the Mexican goal, which keeper Emiliano Pérez stopped with his face.
The Necaxa player was able to continue after some time on the turf to regain his wits, and was perhaps a bit lucky that Cowell’s reflex shot from close range at the 34-minute mark, following a nice run from Gutierrez, was off-target.
Several minutes before the half, Cowell and Mexican defender Jesús Alcántar got into a scuffle in the midfield, and had to be separated by their teammates before the situation came to blows, with each player being shown a yellow for their hotheadedness.
Six minutes into the second half, where PSV academy player Dante Sealy entered for Rokas Pukstas, the Americans equalized off the foot of Diego Luna. Cowell was again the trigger, receiving the ball on the right and doing well to maintain possession at the endline under pressure, before finally weaving a short pass to Luna near the penalty spot.
The 18 year-old El Paso Locomotive FC player lunged forward and redirected the ball into the net for 1-1.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Mexico retook the lead, and secured the victory only 12 minutes later. Flores firing a low cross from the left side that pulled Slonina off his line, leaving free to put away at the far post.
Union Berlin player Malick Sanogo entered the game in the final minutes as Varas pushed for an equalizer, but it was to no avail, with Mexico holding on for the victory.
This result means that the Americans finish last place in the four-team competition, with Mexico coming out as the overall winner, and Brazil finishing second ahead of Colombia.
The next major step will be the 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, which will take place in summer, and decide which four teams from the region play in the final tournament in 2023 in Indonesia. In the meantime, we can likely expect further gatherings of the team during the upcoming international windows as Varas continues the process of building the squad.