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Former Aztec Joe Corona Leads U.S. U-23s Over Cuba

Former Aztec Joe Corona scored three goals in the U.S. U-23 team's 6-0 win over Cuba.
Former Aztec Joe Corona scored three goals in the U.S. U-23 team's 6-0 win over Cuba.

March 23, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Former San Diego State men's soccer player Joe Corona scored three goals to help the United States Under-23 National Team defeat Cuba, 6-0, Thursday night in Nashville, Tenn., in the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament opening game for both teams.

The win gave the U.S. a 1-0 record in the round-format of Group A play. The U.S. needs to finish in the top two of the group to advance to the semifinals of the tournament, where a win there (Kansas City, Kan., on March 31-April 2, 2012) will put them in the 2012 Olympics in London. In the other game of Group A, Canada and El Salvador played to a 0-0 draw.

"We're obviously pleased with the strong start, but we're also not satisfied with the performance," U.S. U-23 head coach Caleb Porter said. "Even though the result was lopsided, I still thought it could have been better. Early in the game we were a little bit shaky in the buildup. The defending could have been a little tighter. It's a little bit to be expected in the first game of the tournament. It's been a long wait for this first game, and I think that showed a little bit in the nervousness out of a few guys. The nice thing is they settled in."

Corona tallied goals in the 11th minute, 40th minute and 88th minute as the U.S. outshot Cuba, 17-4, including a 7-1 advantage on net.

"We've had Joe in every camp, so I've seen him every day in training," Porter said about Corona. "Really for me, the light bulb went on in the Costa Rica portion of our camp in January. We played two matches in Costa Rica, and we had the midfield we had today with Jared [Jeffrey], Mix [Diskerud] and Joe starting in the game against Alajuela. I thought for me it just felt good. It felt right. Mix and Joe are quality players and very technical. The nice thing about all three of those guys is that they are three of our most fit guys on the team, with tremendous range, and get around the field. Not only are they technical and intelligent tactically, they're also honest defensively."

"I feel very good," Corona said. "The coaches and players have received me very well. I have a lot of confidence. I feel like I'm at home. The players are very good teammates. I'm happy.

"I think (the team's technical ability) is the strength of the team. We have a lot of players from all over the world, and I think that everyone gives it their own taste of soccer. That's very important for us, and Caleb likes that."

The U.S. next plays Canada at 6 p.m. CT Saturday, before meeting El Salvador at 8 p.m. CT Monday. To follow the U.S. U-23 team and Corona's progress throughout the tournament, click on the team's official website at http://www.ussoccer.com/Teams/Youth/US-Under23-Men.aspx.

Corona spent one year with San Diego State before joining the professional ranks, accumulating seven points in 2008 on three goals and an assist in just 501 minutes. A midfielder, he played in 15 matches, earning three starts. This past year, Corona was named the newcomer of the year for Mexico's first division.