Following Friday’s disappointing 4-1 loss to Spain, the U.S. U-20 national team needed a result to salvage any hope of advancing in this summer’s World Cup. On Monday, they did just that, earning a fantastic 1-1 draw with France after substitute Daniel Cuevas fired home the equalizer in the 85th minute.
The effort today was a vast improvement on last week’s contest, with the U.S. defense staying compact and battling hard against a physically imposing France side.
The match kicked off with France’s high-powered offense steadily attacking the Yanks’ defense. As the half wore on, however, the U.S. attack gained confidence with some solid link-up play and Luis Gil producing two promising efforts on frame.
After the break, France’s attack came out firing and within three minutes Javan Torre committed a foul that appeared to be just outside the penalty area but the referee pointed to the spot. Yaya Sanogo, a long-time transfer target of Arsenal, stepped up to the spot and unleashed a good effort that Cody Cropper did well to get a hand on but could not prevent from hitting the back of the net.
With the lead in hand, France took their foot off the accelerator, confident that they had the three points. But the Americans were not done.
In the 65th minute Mario Rodriguez took his dribble down the left side and cut sharply between two defenders, drawing a penalty. It looked to be a soft call, likely a makeup for the earlier penalty that Sanogo converted. Gil stepped up to the spot but his soft effort was telegraphed and French goal-keeper Alphonse Areola saved easily.
The miss seemed to motivate Tab Ramos’ men, who looked to take on defenders and get forward in numbers. In the 85th minute, U.S. found their equalizer when Gil’s free-kick from 25 yards out ricocheted off the French defense and fell nicely to Cuevas, who smashed home a first-time volley into the far post.
The U.S. face Ghana on Thursday in their final group match where a victory could see the Americans through to the knock-out stage.