Two late goals lift Mexico’s U17s past SB Soccer Club, 3-2

Santa Barbara Soccer Club vs. Mexico U17

The Mexican U-17 team against Santa Barbara Soccer Club at San Marcos High’s Warkentin Stadium. (Felipe Garcia Photos)


If Mexico finds itself trailing late in a match during the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, its battle cry might be, “Remember Santa Barbara!”

The Mexican U-17 team, twice a World Cup champion (2005 and 2011), scored two late goals to defeat the Santa Barbara Soccer Club 3-2 on Sunday in an international friendly match at San Marcos High’s Warkentin Stadium.

A 19-yard free kick by Kevin Magana in the 90th minute sailed under the bar to tie the score 2-2, and two minutes later in extra time, Nahum Gomez fired a rocket from the right side to the far post, giving Mexico its only lead of the match shortly before the final whistle.

The matchup drew a large crowd to Warkentin Stadium.

The matchup drew a large crowd to Warkentin Stadium.

Santa Barbara’s U-17 team, a two-time champion in the U.S. Youth Soccer national championships, took a 1-0 halftime lead on a goal by Lucky Puengrod, who took a long diagonal pass from Francisco Arroyo at the top of the 18-yard box and fired a shot that deflected off a defender into the goal.

Mexico tied the score 1-1 early in the second half when Edwin Lara’s cross to a teammate in the mouth of the goal was struck into the net by a Santa Barbara defender. Brandon Sanchez put the home team back ahead 2-1 in the 69th minute, breaking away down the right side and striking the ball to the far post.

It appeared Santa Barbara’s stalwart defense and the goalkeeping of Lalo Delgado might preserve an upset victory, but Mexico got a break when a free kick was awarded just outside the penalty area, and Magana capitalized.

Magana, like most of the Mexican players, is affiliated with a professional club; in his case, Chivas Guadalajara. Gomez, who scored the game-winner, is from Pachuca.

“We were honored to play them,” said Santa Barbara defender Carson Vom Steeg. “We defended pretty well. We forced them to really play.”

Mexico’s coach Mario Arteaga said, “We came to Santa Barbara to find this kind of team. They have intelligent players.” He also expressed his appreciation to the fans. Many in the announced crowd of 2,129 were rooting for Mexico.

The Mexican team, which finished runner-up in the last FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013, begins play in the in World Cup on Oct. 18 in Chile. It was drawn into a group with Australia, Argentina and Germany.  The Tricolores have three more friendly games in California – next Tuesday against UCLA, Thursday against the Ventura County Fusion, and Saturday against Cal State Fullerton.

The two teams get together for a photo.

The two teams get together for a photo.