USA U-23s rout Cuba in Olympic qualifying opener

USA U-23s rout Cuba in Olympic qualifying opener

U.S. Men's Olympic Team

USA U-23s rout Cuba in Olympic qualifying opener

USAvsCUBA03222012014

photo by Hunter Dorton/ISIphotos.com

By FRANCO PANIZO

The U.S. Under-23 men's national team is one of the favorites to qualify for this summer's Olympics, and it lived up to its reputation by starting Olympic qualifying in emphatic fashion.

Led by three goals from midfielder Joe Corona, the United States cruised to a 6-0 victory in its Group A opener against 10-man Cuba at LP Field in Nasvhille, Tenn. on Thursday night. Freddy Adu, Juan Agudelo and an own goal by Arturo Diz Pe made up the other three tallies for Caleb Porter's side.

Cuba was forced to play down a man for most of the game after Jose Macias was shown a red card in the 20th minute for hitting Juan Agudelo in the face with his elbow.

That ejection came after Corona opened the scoring in the 11th minute. After a free kick was sent into the penalty area by Mix Diskerud, Cuban goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper punched the ball straight into the path of Corona, who chested the ball and hit a sublime volley into the net in one fluid motion.

The U.S. team, which failed to start the match sharply, doubled their lead eight minutes before halftime when Brek Shea sent in a beautiful cross from the left flank to an unmarked Agudelo. The New York Red Bulls striker raced onto the ball and thundered it home with his head.

Rarely troubled on defense, the Americans got on the scoresheet twice more before halftime. Diskerud, who was heavily involved in the United States' attack all night, set up Corona's second goal in the 40th. Three minutes later, a low cross from Shea intended for Agudelo was knocked over the goal line by Diz Pe.

The goals kept coming in the second half. Adu, the U.S. captain, received a pass from centerback Ike Opara and netted on a blast from outside the penalty area, and Corona capped the scoring and sealed his hattrick with a low finish off a feed from Diskerud.

The United States is currently atop Group A with three points. In the first match of the group's doubleheader at LP Field, Canada played to a scoreless draw with El Salvador.

The Americans return to the field on Saturday to take on Canada.

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