After looking shaky in the early minutes of a must-win match — even going down to a Dylan Carreiro bomb from deep — the US U20s finally found a gear worthy of their talent. Four unanswered goals was more than enough to put the Canucks away and clinch a much-need spot in the U20 World Cup.
The 4-2 victory was refreshing in a tournament that hasn’t been all sunshine and butterflies for Tab Ramos and his youngsters. To say that the performance of the US team at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship has been convincing would be bordering on insanity. The victory against Haiti was downright terrifying and the 1-0 triumph over Costa Rica was hardly comprehensive. But those were largely formalities, necessary steps on the way to the quarterfinals.
Once there, it looked like a talented Canadian team would finally exploit a flawed American side. Then, the dynamic attacking quartet of Jose Villarreal (two goals), Luis Gil (one goal), Daniel Cuevas, and Mario Rodriguez began to teat apart the defense. A second-half goal brought Canada within two, but that was as far as they got.
Now, with Cuba only a few days away, the U20s have reached the promised land — though a championship win over Mexico would be nothing to scoff at. Gil, among others, will return to their clubs, and pride will be all that’s on the line. Next stop: Turkey.
Man of the Match: Jose Villarreal, Forward
The L.A. Galaxy forward scored one on either side of the break to put the US back in the lead and then, essentially, put the game away. It was really an effort from all four in the US attack — not to mention the support of Benji Joya — but Villarreal simply shined just a bit brighter.