The United States U20 team beat Fiji 3-0 in the first matchup between the two sides at the U20 level. Goals from Diego Luna, Cade Cowell, and Caleb Wiley gave the Yanks three points. The United States now has won both of its first two games at the U20 World Cup in Argentina.
The young Yanks began their U20 World Cup run with a feisty victory against Ecuador on Saturday. Although the game looked certain to end scoreless, Jonathan Gomez had other plans. The fullback scored a stunning late goal in added time to give the Americans all three points in the group.
Yanks can’t find back of the net in opening period
Unlike against Ecuador, the Americans were well on the front foot from the beginning of the match on Tuesday. A vast majority of play in the first period took place in Fiji’s half. Cade Cowell, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan all had solid opportunities to score inside the opening 20 minutes. Sullivan perhaps had the best chance, but pulled his shot just wide in the 20th minute.
However, the key final touch was lacking early in the match. Darren Yapi went close to an opening goal for the Americans in the first half as well. Much like Sullivan, the Colorado Rapids forward sent his shot inches wide of the Fiji post. The match entered the halftime break perhaps unpredictably at 0-0.
Fiji started the second half confidently. American goalkeeper Gaga Slonina was forced to make a quality save with the opening moments of the second period. The Chelsea shot-stopper dove to his left to block the Fiji shot directly after a corner kick. It was the team’s first shot on target in the match.
US defeats Fiji in U20 World Cup group stage with three goals
Nevertheless, the Yanks finally broke through the stingy Fiji defense in the 66th minute. Second-half substitute Diego Luna pounced on a loose ball inside the box and fired a curler into the bottom corner of the net. Cowell went down inside the area moments prior to the Luna shot and it seemed as if the match referee would have given a penalty if not for the goal. It was the Americans’ 18th total shot on the day, but just the fourth on target.
Cowell finally grabbed a goal for himself with just a few minutes left on the clock to put the game away. The highly-rated forward collected a pass from Luna, dropped his shoulder to get some space, and fired a beautiful shot beyond the diving goalkeeper. It was his third goal at the U20 level in eight total matches. Cowell also hit the crossbar and post within two minutes of each other in added time.
Another substitute, Caleb Wiley added the cherry on the top with a goal deep into added time. The young fullback was the first to react after the Americans hit the post once again. Wiley tapped the ball into the open net from a few yards away after the Fiji keeper attempted the initial save.
The win takes the United States to the top of Group B, ahead of Slovakia for the moment. Slovakia faces Ecuador later on Tuesday for a chance to be level with the Americans once again. The Yanks face Slovakia on Friday in the final matchup of the group.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Xinhua
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Women’s World Cup, Euro 2024 & Gold Cup
The New Home of MLS
- Price: $14.99/mo. for MLS Season Pass
- Watch every MLS game including playoffs & Leagues Cup
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $10.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $14.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & FA Cup
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $5.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & Brasileirāo