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Team chemistry high for U-23s

Updated: March 7, 2012, 2:37 PM ET
By Luke Cyphers and Doug McIntyre

The most impressive part of the U.S. under-23 squad's performance against Mexico last week wasn't the slick passing or stout defending, good as both were in the dominating 2-0 win.

What was most striking wasn't the striking, either. No, the thing that really jumps off the screen after a second viewing of the friendly match in Dallas is the cohesiveness and collective fight of a squad that didn't have a coach until Caleb Porter was hired in late October, didn't assemble as a group until November and whose roster is still very much in flux.

Trickier still was the fact that many of these players are new to each other, because of the infusion of German-American talent over the last year. Young Euro-Yanks like Alfredo Morales, the son of a Peruvian-American U.S. serviceman who grew up in Germany, had little exposure to the U.S. soccer system as he rose onto the roster at Hertha Berlin. And as recently as five months ago, it looked like Morales, who had the choice of playing for three different countries, might opt to suit up internationally for Peru.

Yet in Dallas last week, after an 89-minute shift where he absolutely controlled the midfield with crisp passing and imposing tackling, Morales was subbed off sporting an enormous grin.

Such integration will be a key for the U.S. in the Klinsmann era -- preserving the American spirit with a squad of players who didn't learn their soccer in America. Porter is off to a promising start.

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