The USA is, yet again, into the U20 World Cup quarterfinal. The Americans got there via a comfortable 4-0 win over New Zealand on Tuesday. This was the best performance for the young American side, usurping that title from a 3-0 win over Fiji in group-stage play. Tuesday’s win maintained a perfect defensive record, as well. Ecuador failed to score in the opener, and Slovakia could not find a breakthrough on matchday three.
The United States was, perhaps, surprised to score the first goal. Given its success in the U20 World Cup thus far, scoring has been no issue. Six goals in three games is a strong return. However, the 14th-minute opener against New Zealand was one of the more unexpected. After picking up the ball 25 yards from goal, Owen Wolff, a midfielder for Austin FC, released a shot on net.
It took the ball a full second to reach the New Zealand net as it rolled along the ground. While the All Whites’ goalkeeper Kees Sims looked likely to save, he retracted his hands thinking it was going wide. However, it slid inside the keeper’s righthand post, giving the USYNT a lead.
That goal began a period of dominance for the United States. One of those chances was a deflection off the crossbar.
In total, by the end of the first 45 minutes, Michael Varas’s American outfit had three-fourths of the possession. That led to a spell of phenomenal chances at the end of the first half. Diego Luna made a terrific run through the midfield that produced a corner. On the following scramble, Daniel Edelman forced a strong save out of Sims on a volley from distance. The final chance was on a clipped cross from the right side. However, the American shot in the goal-mouth went wide.
USA into another U20 World Cup quarterfinal with second-half display
The United States continued that unfortunate trend just minutes into the second half. More well-worked play in the New Zealand end almost set up a goal. Caleb Wiley was in behind the defense, and he passed the ball into the middle for Jonathan Gómez. However, Gómez, who is in the Real Sociedad system, touched his shot wide of the gaping goal.
The United States finally cashed in via the only player with multiple goals in the side at this tournament. Cade Cowell, who entered the game with goals in back-to-back games, fired a left-footed shot on the floor from inside the box. He dragged it across a helpless Sims.
Justin Che made it three not long after. Another strong run through the midfield from Diego Luna led to an odd-man rush for the United States. Cade Cowell, one on one with Sims, went wide. With his angle to goal shut, the San Jose Earthquakes talent squared the ball. Che was the one to pounce on the loose ball, slamming it into the New Zealand net with 15 minutes left in the 90. Rokas Pukštas made it four six minutes later. A free kick swooping in from the left side met the 18-year-old’s head, who simply had to get it on target.
The win punches the USYNT into the quarterfinals of the U20 World Cup for the fourth-straight year. In each instance, though, the United States lost in the last eight. The Americans will play the winner of Thursday’s game between Uruguay and Gambia.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Icon Sportswire
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: $9.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $12.99/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