CARSON, Calif. – The United States Under-23 national team provided a much stiffer test for the US senior national team in their second scrimmage on Tuesday evening, battling their older counterparts to a 1-1 draw at the Home Depot Center.
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Graham Zusi opened the scoring for the USMNT in the first half, but Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney equalized for the U-23s in the second half.
After falling 4-0 to the senior squad last Friday, Caleb Porter’s men provided a much better account of themselves, consistently threatening the senior team’s back line as they pushed for a goal. Although the youngsters were able to get forward, the USMNT ultimately caught them flat-footed near the 15-minute mark when New England Revolution midfielder Benny Feilhaber fired a looping cross to Zusi, who was able to beat D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Porter’s side leveled, howoever, near the 30th minute off a corner kick. Columbus Crew midfielder Dilly Duka fired in a cross that immediately found McInerney, who buried the ball into the back of the net.
After the half, both teams made a host of lineup changes, but it was the U-23s who took initiative when Tony Taylor fired off a number of chances just wide of net.
The U-23s nearly found the go-ahead goal in late in the second half when midfielder Mix Diskerud cut through the defense, but saw his chance saved from point-blank range by Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
With this portion of their camp closed before a swing through Costa Rica, Porter was encouraged by his side’s progress, particularly in front of goal.
“I think that we had more moments around the goal today than we had in the previous game, we just have to do better because we just missed a couple finishes and a couple passes at times,” Porter told reporters. “We also worked on set pieces and we got a goal from there and, while at the end of the day, it’s good to get a result against the senior team, most importantly we’re just focused on ourselves.”
The U-23s will return to the Home Depot Center after their trip to Costa Rica, where they'll face the Saprissa reserves on Saturday and Alajuelense on Jan. 25. CONCACAF qualifying for the 2012 Summer Games in London kicks off in March.
For the senior team, Tuesday's match marked their final competitive contest before Saturday’s friendly against Venezuela in Glendale, Ariz. (9 pm ET, ESPN3/Galavisión).
“We’ve put together two performances that I wouldn’t say that we’re thrilled with, but we could take a few positives out of,” goal-scorer Zusi told MLSsoccer.com after the scrimmage. “A few of our goals have been from good pressure from up top and winning the ball in dangerous areas then finishing those chances.”
US senior national team
1st Half: Nick Rimando; A.J. DeLaGarza, Michael Parkhurst, Geoff Cameron, Heath Pearce; Jermaine Jones, Jeff Larentowicz, Benny Feilhaber; Graham Zusi, Chris Wondolowski, Brek Shea
2nd Half: Sean Johnson; Zach Loyd, Jeff Parke, Geoff Cameron, Heath Pearce; Brad Evans, Jermaine Jones, Ricardo Clark, Brek Shea; C.J. Sapong, Teal Bunbury (Chris Wondolowski, 55)
US Under-23 national team
1st Half: Bill Hamid; Kofi Sarkodie, Zarek Valentin, Sebastian Ibeagha, Jorge Villafaña; Amobi Okugo, Jared Jeffrey, Dilly Duka; Freddy Adu, Teal Bunbury, Jack McInerney
2nd Half: Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Andrew Wenger, Royal-Dominique Fennell, Michael Stephens; Sebastian Lletget, (Jorge Villafaña, 60), Mix Diskerud, Isaac Acuña; Kelyn Rowe, Tony Taylor, Joe Corona
Adam Serrano can be reached at email@example.com.