Against all the odds the U.S. national team U-20’s advanced to the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, as the young Americans beat Colombia 1-0 in Wellington on Wednesday.
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Tab Ramos’ side were second-best for most of the match but a clinical finish from Rubio Rubin in the second half, then a clutch penalty save from goalkeeper Zack Steffen late on after Kellyn Acosta had been sent off, handed the U.S. a spot in the last eight where they will meet Serbia on Sunday in Auckland.
Despite being outshot 24-8, the U.S. defense dug deep with Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga rocks at the heart of the defense. Every single player for the U.S. kept their discipline and shape, as they have now reached the last eight for just the fifth time in history to emulate the likes of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore who did the same with the U.S. back in 2007.
[ VIDEO: Watch Rubin’s goal, Steffen’s PK save ]
Early on in the first half the U.S. were dealt a blow as Bradford Jamieson went off injured and was replaced by Jordan Allen. Colombia were calm in possession and had plenty of the play in the first 45 minutes but failed to really test Steffen in goal for the U.S.
At the start of the second half Alexis Zapata clipped a delightful ball over the top to Jeison Lucumi but his shot was well-saved by Steffen who stayed tall. Colombia’s best chance of the game so far went begging. Moments later Lucumi set up Jarlan Barrera but he curled his effort wide.
Just when wave after wave of attack was coming from Colombia, the U.S. broke away and took the lead against the run of play.
A looping ball forward was nodded down my Emerson Hyndman to Paul Arriola and his blocked shot fell perfectly into Rubin’s path. The FC Utrecht striker instinctively hammered home his third goal of the tournament to put the U.S. 1-0 up and withing 30 minutes of reaching the quarterfinals.
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After going ahead the U.S. grew in confidence and were dangerous on the break as Colombia threw caution to the wind. Allen broke free but squandered a good chance, while Colombia managed to scramble the ball clear after a corner from the left caused plenty of problems.
Late on Colombia won a penalty kick as Acosta and Rodin Quinoes came together in the box and the latter went down rather easily but the referee pointed to the spot and showed Acosta a second yellow card as the U.S. were down to 10-men. However, Steffen emerged as the USA’s hero as he stopped Barrera’s weak penalty kick and moments later Arriola headed off the line superbly as Colombia piled the pressure on.
Despite being down a man the U.S. youngsters dug in and recorded a dramatic 1-0 win to book a spot in the quarterfinals against Serbia on Sunday. The dream of becoming world champions down under goes on.
USA: Zack Steffen; Desevio Payne, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, Kellyn Acosta; Marco Delgado, Emerson Hyndman, Gedion Zelalem (Tommy Thompson, 87′); Paul Arriola (John Requejo, 84′), Rubio Rubin, Brandon Jamieson (Jordan Allen, 11′)
Goal: Rubin (58′)
Colombia: Montero; Quinoes, Sanchez, Angulo, Quintero; Zapata (Rodriguez, 72′), Tello, Barrera, Lucumi (Ibarguen, 64′); Gutierrez (Quinones, 60′), Santos Borre