European Soccer

Tuesday Kickoff: Mexico takes U-23 crown, Rodgers scores in Norway & more


Photo by Bill Barrett/ISIphotos.com

Mexico's Under-23 men's national team will head to the Olympics as CONCACAF's champion.

Mexican-American left back Miguel Ponce scored in extra time to lift Mexico to a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over Honduras in the final of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament at Livestrong Sporting Park Monday night.

Honduras, which finished the match with nine men after having two sent off in extra time, had grabbed the lead just after halftime, with Romell Quioto heading in a free kick to break a scoreless deadlock. Marco Fabian pulled El Tri even with a blast from distance in the 75th minute, forcing extra time. Fabian and teammate Alan Pulido shared the tournament's Golden Boot with five goals apiece, one more than the United States' Joe Corona.

For Mexico, the triumph is the latest accomplishment over the last year. Mexico's senior national team won the Gold Cup, while the U-17s won the FIFA U-17 World Cup and U-20s came in third in the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Both Mexico and Honduras will learn their Olympic fate in the April 24 draw.

Highlights from the match and more stories from around the soccer world are after the jump:


Luke Rodgers picked up for Lillestrom SK where he left off for the New York Red Bulls, scoring in his debut for the Norwegian club in a 2-2 draw with Rosenborg on Monday.

Rodgers came on as a 73rd-minute substitute and scored five minutes later, heading home a teammate's shot that had come off the crossbar right at the goalmouth into a vacant net to give Lillestrom a 2-1 lead at the time.


Real Madrid and Manchester City both boast an embarrassment of attacking riches, and according to reports from Spain, they will potentially be exchanging stars with one another this summer.

Madrid will reportedly offer Gonzalo Higuain to Manchester City as part of a move to lure Sergio Aguero to the Bernabeu. Aguero, who rose to prominence at Real Madrid rival Atletico Madrid, has been prolific in his first season in the Premier League, scoring 24 goals in all competitions. 

His international teammate, Higuain, has had an uneven season in terms of being a starter and reserve, but he has also managed 24 goals this season for the Spanish giants.


Those hoping for Arjen Robben to hit the transfer market in the near future appear to be out of luck.

The Dutch winger is reportedly close to a contract extension with the German power that would lengthen his stay past when his current deal expires, which is at the end of next season.

Often injured but as capabale a winger as there is when healthy, the 28-year-old Robben has been with Bayern Munich since 2009, when he joined the club from Real Madrid.


Do you see Mexico or Honduras figuring into the medals at the Olympics? Happy to see Rodgers remaining in form? Who would be getting the better end of the proposed Madrid-City swap? Think Robben is still among the world's elite players?

Share your thoughts below.

  • Michael F. SBI Mafia Original

    Luke Rodgers is going to be a big loss for NYRB. I know they looked good the last two games but he has such a nose for the goal and it’s a long season. Wonder if he’ll make it back in the summer?


  • Graham

    I was at the Mexico Honduras game last night, both teams looked horrible and Honduras racked up 9 yellow cards and 2 reds.

    Horrible display of soccer, constant winning, diving, and fouling by Honduras, a referee who gave out cards like candy.

    The only thing that saved the game was incredibly exuberant and cheerful crowd.


  • marco

    It was a great victory for El Tri who attacked every minute of every game. Miguel Ponce may have played more minutes than any other player in the tournament. Mexico was the most fit and daring side and deserved the trophy. Nearly all USA sports writers failed to note that both El Salvador, and Mexico, to name two, were more fit than the USA. The writers claimed skill, formations, and tactics were to blame, but fitness was the bigger issue that they over-looked.


  • marco

    Robben more than any other player has led the charge for Bayern in both Bundesliga, and CL for the past two years. He has a very high number of winning goals in both competitions.


  • wilyboy

    On the 2nd of each April, the US 2012 team will gather in a secret bunker and be subjected to a 24 hour marathon of the Twilight series. When it runs out, start over.

    Never again.


  • KC

    And the hatters show up.
    Mexico was better than everybody in this competition. They came to play open, attacking soccer and it worked for them.
    How about you just congratulate them for an excellent tournament. They deserve it.


  • NodaNob

    I thought we were to put a stop to this nonsense! Mex has won Gold cup, U-17 WC, 3rd in U-20 WC, and now U-23 CONCACAF tourney with a ticket to the Olympics and an undefeated-all win streak 16-3 GD.

    Were do we stand? We have not only “not won” anything, we don’t even get to go! this is messed up! I hate they actually have the right to claim they’re the Concacaf “Giants” and I have no freaking argument, other than hopefully the WC qualifiers, which I doubt they won’t make the cut.

    The only upside to this is that if we do win some match against them, it will be sweet victory!


  • andy

    Mexican American Miguel Ponce. Then Joe Corona should be labeled as Mexican Salvadorian American…not just American


  • bryan

    ugh, you can leave out all parts regarding the Olympics.

    as for Madrid, i’m skeptical of getting rid of Higuain. i really like having him and Benz. obviously getting Aguero is nice, but it’ll depend on what else is supposed to be in the deal.


  • Eurosnob

    Not to diminish the success of Mexico’s youth teams, but it means very little unless they are able to translate these performances into a successful performace at the WC. So far, Mexico has not been able to do it. In contrast, a poor performance in a youth tournament does not mean that a country cannot do well in the WC. Spain lost in the quaterfinals of the U20 WC and did not even make the U17 WC, but that does not mean that Spanish soccer program is inferior to that of Mexico. Spain has a great youth program that continues to churn out fantastic players for their national team. Spain will be be of the main favorites to lift the WC in Brazil, Russia and Qatar. I am not trying to compare the US and Mexico to Spain, but we should not overreact to the results of youth tournaments.


  • Dale

    The scary thing is that Mexico only used players from their domestic league, no Vela, Chicharito, Davila, Guarch, Rivera Gio or jonathan Dos Santos…They have depth


  • LoS

    and another one escapes (Ponce)… this kid was found playing high school ball and in the rec leagues in San Diego by Chivas. not in ODP not on a State/Club team… When will the US get it.. SMH. and he is not one in a million there tons and tons of other kids who play. if you get these type of kids vs any odp team i guarentee you they win. Ill take heart over athelete any day.


  • Rob

    Yeah, I thought that was strange too. Was the author trying to be ‘politically correct’? It’s out of context if he was.

    In soccer world, the author should write ‘US-born Mexican player Miguel Angel Ponce’…my two bits anyways


  • Rob

    Agree with this “So far, Mexico has not been able to do it.”.

    However, you fail to note that Mexico has not been successful in youth tournaments until recently. Those players are only now making it into the senior team. We’ll see if all the youth tournaments they won recently translate into a better WC run.


  • Eurosnob

    Rob, we’ll just have to wait a few more years to know for sure if they are able to have a better run. And by the way, Mexican youth teams were pretty successful over the last decade. Mexico won the U17WC in 2005 (7 years ago), Nigeria in 2007, Switzerland in 2009 and Mexico again in 2011. All are wonderful achievements for the youth programs in these three countries, but I wouldn’t bet my house on these countries dominating at the senior level.


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