U.S. U-23s get hat-trick from Corona in 6-0 win over Cuba in Olympic qualifying
Joe Corona tallied a hat-trick, and the U.S. U-23s got single goals from Freddy Adu and Juan Agudelo in a 6-0 win Thursday over Cuba before 4,269 at LP Field in Nashville in CONCACAF Group A Olympic qualifying.
Corona, the U.S.-born son of a Mexican father and Salvadoran mother who accepted an invite and trained with Mexico but did not play last year, made his debut for the U.S. last month in a 2-0 win for the U-23s in a friendly against Mexico.
After the U.S. earned three corners by the 10th minute, the Club Tijuana striker gave the U.S. the lead a minute later when Adu drove a left-footed free kick from about 40 yards into the area. Cuba goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper raced out to punch it clear, crashing into Agudelo in the process.
The ball fell to Corona, who trapped the ball of his chest and volleyed from the middle of the penalty area inside the right post.
Nine minutes later, Cuba went down a man as Dairo Macias was sent off with a straight red card. Agudelo scored the U.S. U-23s second goal in the 37th minute, with Corona scoring his second just three minutes later. The U.S. capped off a three-goals-in-six-minutes run with an own-goal just before halftime.
With Cuba on the defensive, keeping at least nine and sometimes 10 players behind the ball, Macias was issued a straight red card by Mexican referee Roberto Garcia for a right elbow to the face of Agudelo as both chased a loose ball at midfield.
Cuba infrequently managed to gain possession and the stray chance, such as Jorge Villafana’s free kick from 25 yards that went high in the 23rd minute.
Much of the rest was the United States, with Agudelo doubling the lead in the 37th.
After Corona was fouled by Arturo Diz Pe just outside the penalty area, Mix Diskerud played the ball wide quickly to Brek Shea, who served a cross into Agudelo at the six, and he was unchallenged to head it in.
Corona scored his second three minutes later. Diskerud had the ball at his feet inside the box, drew the defense to him and served a square ball across to Corona, who volleyed from near the penalty spot just inside the right post past Cooper.
The U.S. increased the lead to 4-0 in the 43rd when Shea broke free on the left and served a low, rolling cross to Agudelo. But Cuban defender Diz Pe, who entered the game as a first-half substitute for Jorge Farinas, attempted to intercept the ball, sliding and knocking it into his own net.
Adu, who wore the captain’s armband, added to the 4-0 lead in the 62nd minute with a well-taken 30-yard left-footed strike inside the right post, and Corona got his hat trick with a goal in the 88th minute, exchanging passes with Diskerud before finishing with a right-footed effort from just inside the top of the area.
D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid started in goal for the U.S. U-23s and got the shutout.
It was the U.S’s first victory in two matches at the U-23 level over Cuba, having drawn 1-1 in 2008.
Group A qualifying continues for Caleb Porter’s U.S. U-23s Saturday against Canada at 7 p.m. ET, and on Mar. 26 against El Salvador, both games at LP Field in Nashville.
Cuba, which went undefeated in Caribbean qualifying for the CONCACAF finals and outscored opponents 14-4, will next face El Salvador, also on Saturday.
Live coverage can be found on the Universal Sports Network, Mun2 and CONCACAF.com.
Group B games involving Honduras, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico are taking place at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
USA 3 -3–6
Cuba 0-0 –0
USA – Joe Corona 11
USA – Juan Agudelo (Juan Agudelo) 37
USA – Joe Corona (Mix Diskerud) 40
USA – Arturo Diz Pe (Own Goal) 43
USA – Freddy Adu (Ike Opara) 62
USA – Joe Corona (Mix Diskerud) 88
USA: 1-Bill Hamid; 3-Kofi Sarkodie, 2-Ike Opara (capt.), 4-Perry Kitchen, 5-Zarek Valentin; 6-Jared Jeffrey (16-Amobi Okugo, 64), 8-Mix Diskerud, 10-Joe Corona; 7-Freddy Adu (capt.), 9-Juan Agudelo (12-Teal Bunbury, 46), 11-Brek Shea (14-Joe Gyau, 57)
Subs not used: 13-Jorge Villafana, 15-Terrence Boyd, 17-Tony Taylor, 18-Sean Johnson, 19-Sheanon Williams, 20-Michael Stephens
Head Coach: Caleb Porter
CUB: 1-Odisnel Cooper, 2-Yoisel Salazar, 4-Dairo Macias, 5-Renay Malblanche, 6-Osay Martinez, 8-Jorge Farinas (15-Arturo Diz Pe, 24), 10-Maikel Chang,13-Carlos Domingo Francicso (capt.), 14-Aricheell Hernandez (7-Ricardo Pena, 68), 16-Heviel Cordoves, 17-Dayron Blanco
Subs not used: 3-Yosmel De Armas, 9-Felix Guerra, 11-Daniel Saez, 12-Julio Pichardo, 18-Maykel Reyes
Head coach: Raul Triana Gonzalez
CUB – Dairo Macias (ejection) 19
Referee: Roberto Garcia (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Rangel (MEX)
Assistant Referee 2: Dion Neil (TRI)
Fourth Official: Jafeth Perea (BAR)