The U.S. has never enjoyed a U20 World Cup experience quite like 2015. The Americans were hardly a dominant force in their five-match run in New Zealand, notably needing a 56th minute goal from Emerson Hyndman to squeak by lowly Myanmar 2-1 and finishing group play with an embarrassing 3-0 loss to the Ukraine that could’ve been even worse.
But the highs were more satisfying. The U.S. smashed host New Zealand 4-0 and, in one of the bigger wins in U.S. YNT history (believe it or not), a Rubio Rubin lightning strike of a goal pushed them past Colombia and into the quarterfinals for just the third time since the tourney went to 24 teams in 1997.
Behind its titanium shield defense, the U.S. frustrated Serbia into a penalty shootout, where it fell inches short of advancing. Serbia won the entire tournament. Coach Veljko Paunovic parlayed that into a head coaching gig with the Chicago Fire. The U.S. went home.