Skill defines U.S. rout of Cuba 

March, 23, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Sometimes one moment tells the whole story.

Midfielder Joe Corona's first goal in the 6-0 U.S. rout of Cuba not only spoke to the level of dominance the young Yanks showed in their Olympic qualifying opener Thursday night, it sent a larger message: This group of American players is as skilled as any that's come before it, and it's not afraid to show it.

Corona's highlight-reel finish -- taking a punched-away free kick in the air off his chest, dropping it onto his right foot with all the urgency of a man setting down a bag of groceries, then ripping the volley into the corner of the net -- is not something U.S. fans are used to seeing.

Making it even sweeter for U.S. fans? The San Diego native, born of Mexican and Salvadoran parents, flirted with joining El Tri last fall before pledging international allegiance to the U.S.

But the real takeaway from the match is that Corona has plenty of skilled company on this team, and that the Yanks' display in a February friendly dismantling of Mexico was no fluke. All night long -- from Brek Shea's service and Freddy Adu's playmaking on the wings; to the command of the midfield by Mikkel Diskerud, Corona and Jared Jeffrey; to the dangerous finishing from forward Juan Agudelo -- the U.S. treated the ball like a dear, familiar friend.

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.