BRADENTON, Fla. – Former LA Galaxy II midfielder Alex Mendez scored both goals as the United States U-20 National Team claimed its second consecutive Concacaf U-20 Championship with a 2-0 victory against Mexico on Wednesday night at IMG Academy. Mendez claimed the tournament’s Golden Ball as its best player after recording a team-high eight goals over the three-week tournament.
Mendez scored once in either half as the side completed a perfect tournament that saw the United States win all eight games while posting a goal differential of 46 goals scored and only two conceded. Bethlehem Steel FC and 2018 USL 20 Under 20 selection Matthew Real claimed the trophy after serving as captain for the side during the tournament, while seven players who have featured in the USL Championship appeared in Wednesday’s final.
The United States had the better of the early going against their regional rival and that paid off in the 17th minute when Mendez found space at the top of the penalty area and ripped home a first-time finish to the bottom-right corner of the net after FC Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal wove his way in from the left side before producing an accurate pass.
Five minutes into the second half, Mendez had his second as he and Pomykal combined again. After the FC Dallas midfielder had driven to the top of the penalty area from the left, he laid a pass off to Mendez 25 yards from goal, and the former Los Dos midfielder executed a perfect give-and-go as he drove into the left side of the penalty area, cutting against the grain of Pomykal’s initial movement. Mendez received the return pass and finished low past the advancing goalkeeper.
Mexico almost pulled a goal back in the 62nd minute when the tournament’s leading scorer Jose Macias sent a finish goalward only for 2018 USL 20 Under 20 selection Brandon Servania – who spent the season on loan with Tulsa Roughnecks FC from FC Dallas – cleared off the line. Mendez then went close to a hat trick as his free kick four minutes later rapped the left post, and on a follow-up try had a shot from 20 yards tipped just wide of the right upright by Mexico goalkeeper Carlos Higuera.
The United States would hold firm defensively the rest of the way, though, as it lifted the silverware for a second consecutive tournament having previously booked its place at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland next May.