CARSON, Calif. – Dos a cero wasn't good enough this time.
The United States under-23 national team took charge after halftime and coasted to a 3-0 triumph Wednesday night in a friendly with Mexico's U-23s as Borussia Mönchengladbach's Mario Rodriguez, Vancouver Whitecaps defender Christian Dean and Stanford University star Jordan Morris netted second-half goals.
The victory, in an early prep ahead of October's CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, wasn't without cost. Alejandro Guido (groin strain) andJose Villarreal (hamstring strain), Guido's replacement, departed with injuries before the break, and Rodriguez limped off with about 20 minutes to go.
The match was played in front of a sparse crowd, including the US U-14 boys team, at StubHub Center.
Rodriguez, from nearby North Hollywood, finished a feed from Luis Gil, from nearby Garden Grove, in the 48th minute, Dean nodded home a Dillon Serna free kick 10 minutes later, and Morris volleyed home a Shane O'Neill header following a corner kick 10 minutes after that.
The US beat Mexico, 2-0, in a full international friendly a week ago in San Antonio, the eighth time the Yanks have beaten their archrivals by that scoreline since 2000 and ninth time in all.
Guido, from Club Tijuana, exited with a groin strain in the 24th minute, and Villarreal, an LA Galaxy attacker playing on his home field, left after aggravating a hamstring injury. Rodriguez gingerly walked off in the 72nd in what US staff confirmed after the game was a precautionary measure after he felt soreness in his right hip flexor, an injury from a prior camp.
Mexico, led by Toluca's Marco Bueno up top and UANL Tigres' Jonathan Espericueta right behind him, had most of the play for the first half-hour or so and create three good chances to grab the lead. Ángel Zaldívar
forced a diving save from England-based goalkeeper Cody Cropper in the opening minute, and Bueno nodded a cross from Daniel Hernández past the left post in the 27th.
The US had their best opportunity of the first 45 moments later. Villarreal chipped from the left end line beyond the far post, and a quick sequence on the right led to a Gil blast that was blocked. Benji Joya, one of four Mexico-based players on the US roster, crushed the rebound over the crossbar.
Mexico's best chance arrived in the 31st minute. Zaldívar won a battle with Oscar Sorto for a ball on the left flank, sending it forward for Bueno, who beat Shane O'Neill on the dribble, raced alone into the box, then fired off the base of the left post.
Gil had the first US shot on goal in the 41st, but his low try from just inside the 18 was no problem for Monterrey goalkeeper Luis Cárdenas, and Cropper did well to snag a glancing Zaldívar header from a corner kick just before halftime.
The US, using an effective counterattack to take advantage of the space in front of them, took command at the start of the second half and went ahead just three minutes in. San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Fatai Alashe sent a ball to Real Salt Lake's Gil on the left, and Rodriguez beat Bernardo Hernández to finish Gil's dipping cross into the middle.
They came close three more times in the next few minutes, including a sequence in which Rodriguez beat Cárdenas but couldn't get a shot on frame and a Gil rocket was then pushed wide of the left post by Cárdenas, before Dean made it 2-0.
Dean was left unmarked for a simple header to finish a serve from Serna, just wide of the box.
Cropper tipped a Zaldívar shot over his crossbar seven minutes later, and Morris netted the third soon after, from O'Neill's header off Gil's cross. Cárdenas got a piece of the shot, but he and defender Michael Pérez were unable to keep it from clearing the goal line.