US Under 20s advance past Colombia at U20 World Cup

Published Wednesday, June 10, 2015 8:39 AM by William Montero
US Under 20s advance past Colombia at U20 World Cup

This one was a battle.  The US and Colombia went toe to toe late Tuesday night in New Zealand with a quarterfinal berth at the U20 World Cup on the line.  It was a contentious match all evening as both sides battled it out in the midfield.  

High pressure and minimal open space led to an opening half that saw very few chances.  The first shot on goal did not even come until after the half hour mark when Gedion Zelalem rolled a shot straight to the Colombia keeper.  The American center back pairing of Cameron Carter Vickers and Matt Miazga were dominant winning battles and keeping the dangerous South American attack out of the danger area.  Not surprisingly the match went scoreless to the second half.

After the break the game opened up as the two teams tired.  This allowed each side to be able to string some passes together and actually get some meaningful attacks.  There was one major difference between the two teams after the break.  The US made every single play they needed to make.  Colombia, not so much.

The Americans jumped ahead in the 58th minute as a long Zach Steffen goal kick started the quick attack.  Emerson Hyndman went up and won a header that fell to Paul Arriola who decided to try his luck from 25 yards.  His shot was blocked with the ball falling perfectly for Rubio Ruben just inside the 18.  Ruben fired on the half volley roofing his shot high into the net for the lead.

The match was far from over as Colombia pressed to even the game.  In the 81st minute they would get their golden opportunity as a silly play from Kellyn Acosta gave Colombia a penalty kick.  Acosta had his hands all over Rodin Quinones as he spun inside the American penalty area.  Quinones went down and the referee awarded the penalty kick.  Acosta was shown his second yellow and sent to the showers for the foul.

Colombia's Jarlan Barrera stepped up to take the spot kick to tie the match, but American keeper Zack Steffen was more than ready.  Steffan dove to his right and pushed away the low strike.   The South Americans attacked with the extra man, but the US stood strong and saw out the 1-0 victory.

Coach Tab Ramos said after the big win "I’m very happy and satisfied with my team’s performance. Above all, of course, I’ve got to mention our goalkeeper. He held on to our win against a dominant Colombian side. The match was very close and hard-fought. Both teams could have won it and our opponents pushed us all the way to the final whistle. They never gave up, but we did everything in our power to stop them."

The US Under 20s now advance on to the quarterfinals where they will face Serbia who rallied past Hungary.  A very winnable match for the Americans. and perhaps a semifinal appearance at the Under 20 World Cup awaits.