The United States U20 team began their World Cup campaign with a dramatic victory against Ecuador.

La Tricolor played better in the first half, while the Americans settled in to essentially dominate the second period. Jonathan Gomez eventually grabbed the winner in added time to take home the three points.

The Yanks are looking to improve on their recent U20 World Cup finishes. They have only made it passed the quarterfinal stage just once since 1981.

The team finished fourth in the 1989 competition in Saudi Arabia. Cade Cowell, arguably the team’s top current player, missed the match against Ecuador on Saturday due to suspension.

Scrappy start by both teams

Saturday’s matchup started a bit scrappy with both sides flying into tackles in the first 10 minutes. This was highlighted by American center back Brandan Craig getting warned by the match referee for a tough tackle in the middle of the pitch.

Obed Vargas had the U.S. team’s first significant chance at goal in the 22nd minute. The Seattle Sounders midfielder broke free inside Ecuador’s box and sent a powerful strike towards goal. However, Gilmar Napa made the big save to deny Vargas.

Ecuador then had two or three decent chances going the other direction but could not find the final ball to create havoc for the Americans.

Despite the chances by both sides, the game entered the halftime break scoreless. Ecuador undoubtedly had more opportunities in the opening period.

While the Americans took a few strikes from distance, the Vargas shot was their best chance at starting the scoring.

Nevertheless, the United States put more regular pressure on their opponents in the second half’s early stages.

Multiple long-range shots and dangerous corner kick opportunities kept the ball in Ecuador’s box. Left back Caleb Wiley and attacking midfielder Diego Luna had the best chances to score during the first 15 minutes of the second period.

Luna sent his shot just wide of the post after the Ecuadoran keeper’s attempted clearance hit his teammates face.

Gomez screamer wins match for Americans

Second-half substitute Darren Yapi and Jonathan Gomez also saw their shots well saved by Napa in the second half of the contest. However, in added time, Gomez finally put his team ahead with a glorious strike.

The Real Sociedad defender controlled the ball at the top of the box and sent in a vicious shot passing a diving Napa into the back of the net.

The U.S. team will next face Fiji on Tuesday in their second match of Group B. Ecuador, on the other hand, is set to play Slovakia on the same day.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Dean Pictures