RALEIGH, N.C. — Coach Brian Bliss said the primary purpose of this week’s training camp for the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team was to deepen the pool of available players leading into next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup qualifying.
With their 4-2 win over the U.S. U20s Saturday evening in Raleigh, the Wilmington Hammerheads of Usent a message: You’re gonna need a bigger pool.
A first half dominated by the Hammerheads began in earnest in the 18th minute. A long ball over the top found a streaking Sunny Jane, who had a step on U-20 left back Caleb Duvernay and beat the N.C. State newcomer to the ball. Jane gathered the orb and slipped a shot past diving U-20 goalkeeper Evan Louro for the early lead.
In the 25th minute, Wilmington struck again thanks to a wonder strike from Toronto FC loanee Manny Aparicio from 25 yards out. The blast sails over Louro into far net for 2-0 lead.
Matters worsened for the U20s in the 41st minute. A flick-on header fell over the U20 defenders and again at the feet of the speedy Jane, who torched the U20s the entire half. Jane punched another under the hapless Louro for 3-0 advantage.
The U.S. U20s got a goal back just before intermission. Kris Reaves, heeding his coach’s advice to push farther forward from his right back position, drove into the attacking third before delivering a pinpoint power cross into the keeper’s box. Andrija Novakovich was waiting far post, and the new Reading FC signee volleyed his blast home for the 3-1 halftime score.
At the outset of the second half, a penalty whistled against the Hammerheads gave the U.S. U20 a strike from the spot. Novakovich calmly converted the PK for his second goal, closing the gap to 3-2.
In the 50th minute, a U20 ball over the top found Muyl behind the back line and alone with Wilmington keeper and Toronto FC loanee Quillan Roberts. However, Muyl, a New York Red Bulls Academy product, fumbled the sphere, then snapped his shot over the crossbar.
In the 55th minute, Muyl again found himself with the ball at his feet in the box. However, he ignored an unmarked Ian Harkes centered in front of goal and instead took an angled shot that was parried away by Roberts. Kainoa Bailey couldn’t convert the caroom to maintain the one-goal deficit.
In the 73rd minute, a penalty was called against U20s second half substitute Jesus Vazquez for a professional foul on Jane inside the box. Jane converted the PK for his hat trick and a 4-2 lead.
In the 89th minute, second-half sub Ahinga Selemani appeared destined to score a goal, but with Roberts out of position, Selemani’s header into an open goal was saved by a last-millimeter clearance from Wilmington defender Andrae Campbell.
The loss concludes this week’s domestic training session, during which the U.S. U20s lost scrimmages to the Hammerheads and Carolina RailHawks while defeating the RailHawks U23 team.