The US U-20 showed what they are made of against one of the favorites in the U-20 World Cup i n the round of 16. France was one of the favorites to win it all, but this US side pulled off a victory with their never say die attitude Here’s a look at how the historic win went down.
Starters and Substitutes used: Brady Scott; Sergiño Dest, Chris Gloster, Chris Richards, Aboubacar Keita; Brandon Servania, Richy Ledezma (Justin Rennicks, 63), Paxton Pomykal (capt.), Tim Weah, Konrad De La Fuente (Ulysses Llanez, 63), Sebastian Soto (Mark McKenzie, 91)
Substitutes not used: David Ochoa, CJ Dos Santos, Julian Araujo, Edwin Cerrillo, Matthew Real
Unavailable: Chris Durkin, Alex Mendez
Head Coach: Tab Ramos
The USA showed they were going to go at France with an attack heavy lineup, but the young American side also showed they were content to concede possession. France was the tactically better team in the match, and controlled possession; the US looked to press France and hit them on the counter. In the first 20 minutes it looked like France should have scored multiple times, the finishing touch was just off for the French early on. The game made its first turn when the US opened the scoring.
Some nice build up play found the ball at Richy Ledezma’s feet, he advanced the ball into the French half, and saw the run of Sebastian Soto going behind the french defense. the ball was played to Soto, timed perfectly to hit him in stride. Soto was in on goal, and waited for the Keeper to come out to meet him; when that happened the US U-20 leading goal scorer of the tournament slipped the ball into the net. The US were up 1-0!
As the half went on, France looked even more menacing, and they found their equalizer through a speedy and precise counter attack. A bad turnover by USA fell to the feet of Moussa Diaby just inside the US’s half. With players forward for the USA, Diaby had space to run into. He drew Keita toward his run and played Amine Gouiri in on goal. The Frenchman was one-on-one with the keeper and was never going to miss that chance. France took their deficit away, and halftime came soon after.
As the second half kicked off France continued their highly precise possession game, which forced the US to press them and do a lot of running. This tactic wore down the USA, and led to France’s second goal.
10 minutes into the second half Diaby drew Keita out again, this time on the right wing. The French playmaker drove right by the US defender and put a shot on goal that beat the diving keeper, but hit the post. The ball bounced to the edge of the six-yard box and it was a 50/50 ball between USA’s Sergio Dest and France’s Nabil Alioui. Alioui got the better of the loose ball, and smashed it into the open net. France had the 2-1 lead, but there was over 30 minutes still to play.
The next 30 minutes would be one to remember for the USA. The first 10 the US fought to win and keep more possession to move forward to find that equalizing, but it wasn’t coming; that’s when US coach Tab Ramos made a double substitution that helped break the game open. Ulysses Llanez, and Justin Rennicks came on in the 63rd minute ant US’s attack was re-vitalized.
In the 74th minute Llanez had the ball in Frances attacking third He found Tim Weah who was left alone in the middle of the pitch. Weah drew four french defenders toward him and then played an amazing ball to Soto who was in on goal again. Soto finished the chance, and the US were level! 20 minutes later the US pushed forward again, this time looking
10 minutes later the US pushed forward again, this time looking for the winning goal. Weah had the ball again, and fancied a shot from 25-yards from goal, it was blocked but fell to the feet of Sergio Dest. Dest tagged the ball, but it looked like french keeper Alban Lafont had the shot covered. As he dove to his right to stop the ball, it slipped through his gloves and was laying on the pitch. US Substitute Justin Rennicks had made a run to goal durring Dest’s effort, and he was able to get his foot in front of the scrambling Lafont. Rennicks lifted over the outstretched keeper and into the net and the US were up 3-2 with minutes left to play! The scrappy US team defended well for the following french onslaught, and emerged victorious!
The US are on their way to the quarterfinals, but does this team have what it takes to win the World Cup now that they’ve beaten France?
Can the US make a run at taking the U-20 World Cup?
This US U-20 team is the only team in US Men’s soccer history to make the quarterfinals of a World Cup three consecutive tournaments, which is a huge feat. Now the US are set for a quarterfinal matchup with South American Champions, Ecuador. Should they progress past this tough match, they will have to face either Korea Republic or African Champions Senegal in the semi’s. Winning in that round would put the US in their first ever U-20 final and it would be against one either Italy, Mali, Colombia or Ukraine; all of those four have had great tournaments.
This US team is great, even with out outstanding midfielder (or defender depending on the system and oddity of head coach) Tyler Adams, who made the Senior US Men’s National Team for the Gold Cup, or striker Josh Sargent (who was left off the Gold Cup roster after been given what was essentially a tryout, and now will play no meaningful minutes this summer) who was the US’s leading scorer in the last U-20 World Cup.
The U-20’s want to play a possession based style of football, with counter pressing when they don’t have the ball. This modern style of play is attractive to watch, and the US are good at it; however it requires a lot of running, and this US U-20 side may not be as fit as other teams in the last eight. When you have a good coach, that might not matter however with the will to win, and the right leader at the helm!
Don’t forget to catch the U-20’s as they take on Ecuador for a spot in the semifinals, Saturday at 11:30am EST on on FS2 and Universo Family of Networks!
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Mandatory Credit: FIFA.com
Philadelphia Union Editor of Soccer Content
A passion for the beautiful game drives me.