United States advances to the U-20 CONCACAF Championship final, beating Cuba 2-0

Zac Lee Rigg
March 2, 2013
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Both these teams previously qualified for the U-20 World Cup by advancing to the semifinals of the U-20 CONCACAF Championship.

Cuba named an unchanged lineup from the one that beat Costa Rica 2-1 in the quarterfinals. Tab Ramos, however, lost several players, including Luis Gil to Real Salt Lake ahead of the 2013 MLS season and captain Caleb Stanko back to Freiburg. Playmaker Dillon Serna was drafted into the defense to help compensate, and Benji Joya wore the captain's armband.

The United States took an early lead. Joya's raking ball found Mario Rodriguez between the seams of the Cuba defense. The FC Kaiserslautern forward's low near-post shot beat the goalkeeper to open the scoring.

Three minutes later, the Yanks doubled the advantage. Daniel Cuevas, deployed as the main striker with Jose Villarreal struggling for fitness, hit a long-range shot that deflected up and over the goalkeeper.

That finished the scoring as the game dragged out toward 90 minutes. Perhaps exhausted from the compressed schedule or content with World Cup qualification, Cuba hardly pressured the Americans throughout the match. For their part, the Yanks didn't push the issue, and held onto the two-goal lead.

The final will take place on March 3.

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