Alex Mendez was the hero of the night for the U.S. as they claimed a second straight Concacaf U-20 crown with a strong showing against El Tri
Alex Mendez scored twice to have the U.S. U-20 national team a 2-0 win over Mexico in Wednesday’s Concacaf Championships.
The Freiburg midfielder has been turning heads all tournament and put in another classy display against El Tri in the final, netting once in either half to lead his side to victory.
The U.S. carried much of the early play and did well to limited chances for Mexico before breaking the deadlock in the 16th minute.
Paxton Pomykal’s winding run down the left saw the FC Dallas youngster drift into the box where he picked out Mendez at the top of the area. The18-year-old slammed home a first-time finish, slotting the ball into the lower corner to put the U.S. out in front.
The match took on the feel of a rivalry clash for much of the rest of the first half, with neither side backing out of challenges and play getting chippy at times, but it headed to the break with the USA still clinging to a narrow lead.
The USMNT would open things up five minutes after the re-start.
Pomykal was once against the catalyst, breaking down the left and cutting inside once again before picking out Mendez. Rather than fire first time the midfielder returned the ball to Pomykal and the two completed a slick interchange before Mendez slotted home with his left foot.
Mendez nearly rounded out his hat trick in the 66th from a free kick, but saw his attempt come back off the post before having a follow-up shot pushed just wide of the mark after Mexico failed to clear.
Despite the second goal Mexico was far from done in the contest.
U.S. goalkeeper Brady Scott, who came up with a massive save just before the break to preserve the lead, was called on multiple times in the second frame as El Tri’s youngsters pushed for a goal.
The win marks the second straight Concacaf title for the USMNT U-20s, with the side not having claimed a regional crown before winning the 2017 final.
Head coach Tab Ramos deserves much of the credit, having guided the program to three regional finals and two titles in four cycles in charge.
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