US Under 20s rally past River Plate

Published Sunday, April 13, 2014 10:09 PM by Shane Barrow
US Under 20s rally past River Plate

After a long day of some great soccer at Dallas Cup XXXV we still had one treat left to close out the evening.  The US Under 20 National Team facing off against River Plate from Argentina.  MmmmHmmmm!

US coach Tab Ramos named Kellyn Acosta captain of the squad.  Acosta already has here starts for FC Dallas in MLS play this season.

The opening ten minutes were cagey as both sides felt each other out and tried to establish some meaningful possession.  River Plate earned a couple of set pieces but neither side generated much of an attack.

The Americans slowly began to push Argentina back though and in the 15th it paid off with a goal.  Jordan Allen slipped a nice ball into the feet of Ben Spencer Jr at the top of the 18.  Spencer turned to his right and curled a perfectly placed shot into the corner of the net.  The River keeper did not even take a step the ball was so well placed.

Three minutes later River Plate got the goal back as the US defense were caught napping.  A throw in found a RP player 1v1 deep in the US area.  He held the ball up well and found midfield runner Alan Arario who slotted the ball nicely into the corner of the American goal.  Way too easy.

River Plate should have taken the lead in the 32nd minute as Juan Kaprof skipped through the American penalty area.  The US defenders seemed afraid to put in a tackle allowing Kaprof to square the ball to a wide open player on the six who should have scored easily.  Instead he blazed his close range shot over the crossbar.

It wouldn't matter much as they had the lead on the very next attack.  A set piece was. Curled high to he back post as America keeper Zackary Steffen tracked it.  At the last moment he pulled his hands down instead of playing the ball expecting it to fly out for a goal kick.  He did not know Juan Kaprof was waiting on the end line to head the ball into the six where Braian Molina was standing to put it into the empty net.  Clearly some defensive issues for the U20s to iron out.

The Americas had no answer for Juan Kaprof who was running wild through the US defense.  He earned a free kick in the 42nd minute but keeper Steffen was up to the task making the save on the high shot.  Cold the US regroup at he break and get a result?

In the 52nd minute the US got a good attack down the right leading to a cross from Romain Gall.  Big Ben Spencer Jr was making a near post run where he rose to meet the ball.  Unfortunately he was not able to get over the ball and headed narrowly over the crossbar.

For being down a goal the Americans were not showing enough urgency in my opinion.   Only Jordan Allen seemed the least bit dangerous at all in attack.  The dynamic Kellyn Acosta who flies up and down the flanks for FC Dallas was wasted in a holding midfield position.  It makes me wonder if Tab Ramos even watches these guys play with their pro clubs.  If so, you would never waste Acosta's athleticism in a holding position.

Finally with twenty minutes left the Americans began to turn up the pressure getting better flank play and service.  In the 74th they were rewarded with the tying goal.  Rubio Rubin made a great run getting in behind the River dense.  He held off the challenges of both central defenders before shooting from ten yards.  The ball deflected off a sliding sender and floated over the head of keeper Barga Batalla and into the net.

The US were on the front foot now.  Finally Kellyn Acosta was getting loose and he made a darting run into the RP penalty area where he was dropped by the sliding Leandro Vega.  PK.  Ben Spencer Jr put the penalty away and in the span of five minutes the US U20s went from a goal down to a goal ahead.  Now they just had to see out the final ten minutes for the victory.

Deep into stoppage time a massive play took place on a River Plate restart.  The ball was flighted into the US box where a defender rose to head the ball away.  Instead it skipped off the top of his head and went to the backpost where a River Plate player was waiting.  He scored, but the linesman flagged for offside.  The River Plate players went nuts, protesting vehemently.  But the tying goal did not stand and the US U20s won 3-2.