The United States U-23 team was relatively lucky to make the third place game in the Toulon Tournament, and they made the most of it.
A pair of penalties converted by Alonso Hernandez and Benji Joya – one in each half – gave the United States a 2-1 win over England to win their best-ever finish at the French youth tournament.
The U.S. took the lead in just the 7th minute when Jerome Kiesewetter was fouled in the box by Kortney Hause, and Hernandez came through from the spot. Hause atoned just three minutes later to even things up as a quick free-kick caught the U.S. napping.
The winner came in the 65th minute – just minutes after England was let off a solid penalty shout for handball – a Kiesewetter shot pinged off the arm of England defender Billy Cargill and the referee pointed to the spot. Joya converted, and goalkeeper Cody Cropper strongly blanked England the rest of the way.
A 3rd place finish is a solid finish for the United States after looking shaky most of the way through the tournament, and finished things on a high note with three wins in five matches.
A strong U.S. U-23 squad had high expectations given they were taking on a host of countries that sent young, inexperienced squads to the tournament. The team showed flashes of brilliance, but often looked sluggish and non-responsive. The team was relatively lucky to even make the third place game after the Netherlands were torched by France 4-0 to give the U.S. a one-goal differential advantage. A number of players who have in the past been mentioned as fringe candidates for the senior team failed to consistently impress, which is arguably the overriding goal. But it’s hard to knock Andi Herzog’s group for earning such a milestone finish.