U.S. U-23s Rout 10-Man Cuba 6-0 in Olympic Qualifying Opener

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.

Highlights:

“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).

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Border Battle: Mexico U-22 Team Calls In California Native Joe Corona

Former San Diego State midfielder Joe Benny Corona, who has one of the best names in CONCACAF and plays for a team (Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente) that can say the same, has been called in by the Mexico U-22 national team for a couple of friendlies against Chile.

Corona, who drew national notice last year for his performance in a friendly against the LA Galaxy, is also eligible to play for El Salvador (his mother’s birthplace) and the U.S. (he was born in Los Angeles), and all three countries have approached him.

Former U.S. coach Bob Bradley named Corona to his provisional roster for the Aug 10 friendly against Mexico, but that roster was scrapped when Bradley was dismissed. Current U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann sent USSF staffer Brian Quinn to scout Corona in a recent match against Puebla (and U.S. winger DaMarcus Beasley).

In this profile by Jeff Carlisle (go give it a read), Corona says he probably would have accepted Bradley’s invitation, but even if he had, his international future would still be up for grabs. Corona won’t be tied to any nation until he plays in an official FIFA competition with a national side.

He says he hasn’t made up his mind, and is not troubled by the decision at the moment.

His parents, on the other hand, are clear about their preference. They started their family in Los Angeles, and then returned to the U.S. three years later (following a brief stint in Mexico) “for the greater educational opportunities,” according to Carlisle. Re-settling in San Diego, they sent their son to Sweetwater High School, and eventually, San Diego State. Their boy also played on various Southern California club teams during this time, including Aztecs FC, Hotspur USA FC, and the San Diego Nomads (onetime home of Steve Cherundolo and Frankie Hejduk).

So which nation do Corona’s parents want him to play for? … Mexico, of course.

“That’s one thing where they’re on the same page,” he tells Carlisle.