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United States to face Mexico in the U-20 CONCACAF Championship final

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United States to face Mexico in the U-20 CONCACAF Championship final
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United States to face Mexico in the U-20 CONCACAF Championship final

Both these teams previously qualified for the U-20 World Cup by advancing to the semifinals of the U-20 CONCACAF Championship.

"They were though," Tab Ramos said. "We were already aware of their level by surprisingly defeating Costa Rica. We made a good first half, however, in the second Cuba recovered. We're happy to reach the final and knock out a respectable opponent like Cuba."

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.

"Benji is a fabulous player with enough charisma and arguments to be the captain of our team," Ramos said. "He was great today. He supported our decision."

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, against host Mexico, which beat El Salvador 2-0 in the other semi, will take place on March 3.

Mario Aguirre contributed additional reporting from Puebla, Mexico

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