FC Dallas goalkeeper Richard Sanchez improved his already-excellent international resume last night after backstopping Mexico to the Under-20 CONCACAF Championship in Puebla, Mexico. The tournament started on February 18 and culminated in last night's final, which pitted Sanchez's Mexico side against the U.S. U-20s featuring FC Dallas Academy products Danny Garcia (M/F, University of North Carolina) and Boyd "OC" Okwuonu (D, University of North Carolina). All three players featured for their respective squads regularly throughout the two-week long tournament, eliciting the praise of Hunt Sports Group Vice President Dan Hunt on Twitter after the championship game.
Richard Sanchez: Sanchez saw the most action of the three players with FC Dallas ties at the tournament, playing every minute of every match in goal for Mexico. Through 490 minutes of action, Sanchez allowed just one goal - on a penalty kick against the U.S. in the final. Mexico opened the tournament with a 3-0 shutout of Curaçao before closing group play with a 3-0 win over El Salvador. Sanchez went on to shut out Jamaica 4-0 in the quarterfinal round before topping El Salvador again in the semifinals 2-0. Mexico took an early lead over the U.S. in the championship match, but the Yanks tied it up minutes later on a penalty kick scored by Benji Joya. The teams remained tied through the end of regulation, but Mexico netted twice in overtime to claim the 3-1 victory. Sanchez was named the Best Goalkeeper of the tournament.
Boyd Okwuonu: Okwuonu played in every match but the final for the U.S. U-20s. The sophomore Tar Heel played the full 90 in the Yanks' 2-1 tournament-opening win over Haiti and played the entire second half of the side's 1-0 win over Costa Rica four days later. Okwuonu went the full 90 again in the quarterfinal round against Canada in a 4-2 win. The center back played his final minutes of the tournament in the 2-0 semifinal win over Cuba as he came on for Daniel Cuevas in the 77th minute.
Danny Garcia: Inversely to his UNC teammate, Garcia played in every match except for the tournament-opener. The speedster started and subbed off in the 90th minute of the win over Costa Rica before playing the final 13 minutes against Canada. Garcia then played the full 90 minutes against Cuba in the semifinals and all 120 minutes of the overtime loss to Mexico in the tournament final.
Despite the loss for the U.S., the side still accomplished the larger goal of qualifying for this summer's FIFA Under-20 World Cup by finishing in the top four of the CONCACAF Championship tournament; which means between the U.S. and Mexico, FC Dallas should be well-represented once again in Turkey when the tournament kicks off in June.