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USA U-23's beat England, finish third at Toulon Tournament

The Americans were extremely lucky to make the third place game, but come away victorious.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to some improbable series of events in the remaining games of the United States' group, they found themselves playing in the Toulon Tournament third place game. Then there, the U.S. topped England, 2-1, in the placement game and finished in third place. Andi Herzog's group did not play particularly well all tournament despite taking an U-23 team to a tournament with largely U-21 and U-20 teams, but somehow managed to win three out of five games.

Starting lineup

What happened

Six minutes into the game, the U.S. won a penalty on their first meaningful attack when England's Kortney Hause fouled Jerome Kiesewetter. Alonso Hernandez calmly sent the England goalkeeper the wrong way for a 1-0 lead.

The one goal advantage would be short lived. Hause would redeem himself just three minutes later by finishing a cut back pass from the left wing to equalize.

The game settled down after the early flurry of activity. A rather pedestrian affair didn't spark back to life until the 66th minute when Kiesewetter had a shot blocked by an England defender's arm to give the U.S. another penalty. With Hernandez being substituted earlier in the match, the responsibility fell to Benji Joya. His side-footed shot flew just out of the reach of the goalkeeper and the Americans again had the lead.

England pushed forward for an equalizer. They forced several good saves by Cody Cropper, but were unable to push the game past the allotted 80 minutes. The U.S. prevailed and finished the tournament in third place despite an uninspiring overall performance.

Quick thoughts

  • Jordan Morris and Hernandez were the most impressive players for this group. They both have the quality you'd expect of a U.S. international attacker.
  • One of the more eye-opening performers of the tournament was Kiesewetter. His pace on the right wing gave opponents fits. With the U.S. looking for true wingers, he could be one of the few players from this group to graduate to the senior team down the road.
  • Julian Green had another quiet day. Again, he shows flashes of the quality we know he has, but fails to consistently leave his mark on games.
  • Dillon Serna started in an unusual position in this game. He occupied one of the three midfield spots. His technical ability allows him to play in several different spots on the field and play them adequately.
  • Despite scoring a penalty, Joya had an ineffective game in the midfield. The promise he once showed for the U-20's seems to have faded.
  • Right back Boyd Okwuonu may have been the most disappointing player of the tournament. His defensive positioning and technical ability leave a lot to be desired unless they take giant steps forward.
  • Will Packwood and Shane O'Neill both had ups and downs in Toulon. Neither are very impressive at the international level. It's hard to see either ever representing the senior team.
  • Cody Cropper rebounded from a horrible gaffe in the first game to make several key saves against England.
  • Overall this group will not leave a mark on anyone's memory. It played against largely less inexperienced teams, and got extremely lucky to advance as far as it did. That's not to take away from the third place accomplishment, but some perspective is needed.
The U-23's begin Olympic qualifying at the beginning of October.