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U.S. U20 MNT defeats Costa Rica, wins group

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: February 22, 2013

The U.S. U20 Men's National Team won Group A of the 2013 CONCACAF U20 Championship on Friday thanks to a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica. Jose Villarreal scored the lone goal of the game in the 63rd minute off an assist from Luis Gil. 

In a fixture that was plagued with fouls, the U.S. endured the abrasive attack of Costa Rica and clinched the top spot in the three-team group. 

The U20s will meet Canada on Tuesday in the quarterfinal round for a spot in the 2013 U20 World Cup. Costa Rica, which had already claimed a spot in the next round via a win over Haiti on Wednesday, will face Cuba on Tuesday in the do-or-die fixture. 

Player ratings (0-10)

GK Cody Cropper, 6: He did well on his one real save of the game in the second half when he pushed away a shot by Mayron George. Cropper was not required to do much else on the day and notched his first shutout of the competition.

D Juan Pablo Ocegueda, 6: The left back for the U.S. was probably the most fouled player on the field for the day. Ocegueda took a beating from the Costa Rica forwards, but he did not give anything up and shut down any attack from the wing.  

D Caleb Stanko, 5: Pushed off the ball too easily by George, but the Costa Rican striker was unable to punish him. Stanko was solid otherwise against an attack that offered little creativity. 

D Shane O'Neill, 5: Whenever a player is moved to multiple positions in the span of a year, there is an adjustment period. O'Neill was going through that adjustment on Friday as the Rapids player was out of position on a couple of occasions. Costa Rica did not have the tactical understanding to really punish the U.S. though. 

D Eric Miller, 6: He did well in the first half at the right back spot, but was pulled off by Ramos at the break. Miller might not offer much going forward, but he definitely seems like the more stable option at outside back from this roster. 

MF Wil Trapp, 5: The Columbus Crew midfielder was lucky not to be sent off in the first half after his reckless challenge nearly resulted in a second yellow card in the opening 40 minutes. Some rough touches put Trapp in bad spots, but it was a better showing than he had against Haiti.

MF Mikey Lopez, 7: Lopez did a good job controlling the speed of the game from his defensive midfield position. Costa Rica did not have much of an attack or much pressure on the ball, which allowed Lopez to contribute to the attack in the second half. 

MF Benji Joya, 6: The Santos Laguna midfielder looked much better in the first half when he had a position out wide. With the formation change in the second half (a move from a 4-5-1 to a 4-3-3), Joya was somewhat lost in the midfield trio. 

MF Luis Gil, 6: Full credit for the assist on the goal, but Gil did not have the best day on set pieces. The Real Salt Lake starlet had some good moments in the run of play, but never really pulled the strings in the final third. 

MF Danny Garcia, 6: Garcia offered more defensively than Daniel Cuevas showed from the opening game, but he also struggled to link up with his fellow attackers. His crosses just seemed to be off the mark in the final third, but he was electric on the dribble.  

F Jose Villarreal, 7: The LA Galaxy attacker showed off his vertical leap on the goal, but he also struggled to find the game in the first half as the No. 9 in the 4-5-1 formation that Tab Ramos trotted out to start the clash. With Mario Rodriguez up there in the second, Villarreal did not seem to get enough of the ball in the run of play to really make a difference. 

Substitutes

F Mario Rodriguez, 5: His physicality on the ball helped against the heavy-handed Costa Rica defense, but he struggled to make an impact with the ball on his feet. 

D Boyd Okwuonu, 5: Okwuonu was beat on the dribble only five minutes after entering the game at halftime, and it looked like his nightmare performance from Monday was going to carry over. However, Okwuonu settled his nerves and did well for the rest of the half. 

F Jerome Kiessewetter, N/R: For the second game in a row, the German-American only had a couple of minutes to make an impact in the game. 

 
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