U.S. U20 Men Lose World Cup Quarterfinal

U.S. U20 Men Lose World Cup Quarterfinal
by Victor Olorunfemi
June 5, 2023

After a flawless run to the quarterfinals, the U.S. U20 met their match against an Uruguay team that was more clinical with their chances. Despite the U.S. holding a significant edge in possession 66-34, both teams finished with equal shots at eleven and three on target. 

Although they did not concede any goals on route to the quarter-finals, the U.S. had shown moments of defensive weakness, particularly early in games and defensive transitions. No one punished them, but Uruguay did 21 minutes into the game as they broke free on a counter and scored on a cutback as the U.S. defenders sprinted back. A goal that early allowed Uruguay to sit back and wait for counter-attacking moments. 

That was the story of the remainder of the half as the U.S. settled for long-range shots and a clever flicked shot from Joshua Wynder following a corner. There were too many moments of poor decision-making in the final third as the team grew increasingly frustrated by Uruguay’s low block. 

Coach Mikey Varas made some early changes to start the second half, with Kevin Paredes replacing Owen Wolff at the half and Daniel Edelman and Rokas Pukstas replacing Obed Vargas and Michal Halliday, respectively, in the 55th minute.  

But just as it looked like the U.S. was generating momentum for an equalizer, an unfortunate sliding clearance from Joshua Wynder resulted in an own goal in the 56th minute. It was against the run of play, but knockout games can be cruel in that manner. The team pushed on with half-chances for Cade Cowell and others, but it was too little too late as the U.S. dropped the game two to zero. 

The players will now regroup, with many having some enticing decisions to make about their professional future after great play at the U20 World Cup. 

Gaga Slonina; Brandan Craig, Joshua Wynder (Johnathan Gomez), Justin Che; Jack McGlynn, Obed Vargas (Daniel Edelman), Caleb Wiley (Quinn Sullivan), Michael Halliday (Rokas Pukstas); Cade Cowell, Diego Luna, Owen Wolff (Kevin Paredes) 

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