US Under 20s open World Cup with victory

Published Saturday, May 30, 2015 9:50 AM by William Montero
US Under 20s open World Cup with victory

A win is a win right?  Certainly when it is at a youth World Cup.  The US Under 20 National Team opened the Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand last night by getting past minnows Myanmar 2-1. It certainly was not the greatest of performances from an American team that looked full of athletes but lacking true soccer players.  The US ran around full of speed and intent, but if the ball wasn't on the foot of Emerson Hyndman very little got accomplished.

Tiny Myanmar were making their first ever appearance in a World Cup at any level.  They were widely expected as nothing more than cannon fodder for the Group A favorite USA.  Instead they had the crowd buzzing as Myanmar jumped ahead within ten minutes.  US keeper Zach Steffen misplayed a Myanmar corner kick flailing at the flighted ball before ending up on the ground.  It left the underdogs an easy tap in and a wild celebration.  The Americans were clearly rattled, but like all American national teams seem to do, they went right to work.

Within ten minutes the US had the game tied off a corner kick of their own.  Emerson Hyndman flighted a ball in that was flicked to the back post by Cameron Carter-Vickers.  Maki Tall raced in and side volleyed the ball into the net.  From there the US continued to get their legs under them and improve their play.  Slowly but surely Myanmar were pushed back into their own end.

The second half saw the Americans in complete control.  Much better possession and patience.  In the 56th minute an end to end exchange resulted in the winning goal.  After a Myanmar counter attack that penetrated deep into the US half the Americans unleashed a counter of their own.  Racing forward, the ball was played into striker Rubio Ruben who cut inside and found a wide open Emerson Hyndman racing in on goal.  Ruben passed. Hyndman had a nice first touch and then slotted home for the 2-1 lead.

There were some shaky moments toward the end of the game when Myanmar were throwing everything forward, but Tab Ramos' boys saw out the 2-1 win.  

After the match coach Tab Ramos said "We didn't play how we wanted to play, that's for sure. We found in front of us a very inspired team, a newcomer coming into the World Cup and they fought hard. They made us play ugly and it was difficult for us. I'm happy with the win but we're going to have to improve if we're going to go anywhere in this tournament.

A win is win, but it will take much more for this team to make a deep run at the Under 20 World Cup.  Host New Zealand and then Ukraine await.