The U.S. U-23 national team overcame a shaky start and got three goals from the excellently named Joe Benny Corona to rout Cuba 6-0 in their Olympic Qualifying opener last night in Nashville.
Corona opened the scoring in the 11th minute, settling his team after a fairly nervous start, and the Americans took complete control after Cuba’s Dario Macias received a straight red for elbowing at Juan Agudelo in the face in the 19th minute.
Agudelo headed in a cross from Brek Shea in the 37th, Corona guided home a square ball from Mix Diskerud in the 40th, and Shea forced an own goal with a centering pass bound for Agudelo in the 43rd to give the U.S. a 4-0 lead at the break. Freddy Adu struck a golazo in the 62nd and Corona slotted his third two minutes from time for the final scoreline.
“In the beginning, we were a little sketchy,” Corona told the MLS website. “We could have come out with a little bit more confidence.”
That tentative start, along with what coach Caleb Porter called a lack of hardness “through the middle” in the first half, could be areas of concern for when the U.S. faces more difficult, full-strength, opposition.
But the Americans showed lots of quality overall and they demonstrated that they can thoroughly dispatch a weakened CONCACAF opponent—not always a given with previous U.S. national teams.
The U.S. takes on Canada, which tied El Salvador 0-0 in its opener, on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET (Universal Sports Network, Mun2).