U-20 World Cup Recap: United States 2 - 0 Slovakia
The United States wrapped up the Group Stage with their third straight clean sheet!
The United States Under-20 squad returned to action Friday afternoon as they faced Slovakia in the Group Stage finale.
Mikey Varas and the United States entered Friday’s contest stress-free as the U.S. booked their ticket to the Round of 16 in their last outing as a 3-0 win over Fiji secured them a top-two finish in Group B. Slovakia looked to keep their U-20 World Cup hopes alive as a win over the U.S. and an Ecuador loss secured them a guaranteed spot in the knockout stage.
There was a slight shift in formation and five personnel changes for Varas as the U.S. rolled out a 4-3-3 formation. Chelsea’s Gabriel Slonina was in goal as Atlanta United’s Caleb Wiley, Louisville City’s Joshua Wynder, Philadelphia Union’s Brandan Craig, and Hoffenheim’s Justin Che composed the back line. Seattle Sounders’ Obed Vargas, New York Red Bulls’ Daniel Edelman, and Orlando’s Michael Haliday were in the midfield, while San Jose’s Cade Cowell, Real Salt Lake’s Diego Luna, and Austin’s Owen Wolff provided the attack.
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After a series of close chances, Cowell finally capitalized in the 38th minute as he stepped up to intercept a back pass by Slovakia and drove up the pitch. Cowell overcame the Slovakian pressure as he drove into the left side of the box and beat the keeper at the near post to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.
Cowell had the chance to find a second goal in the 64th minute as a U.S. free kick from outside the box found Cowell all by himself inside the box. The San Jose striker looked to get a touch on the ball, but his touch had too much on it as it escaped his reach as Adam Hrdina scooped the ball before Cowell could recover.
A double substitution came in the 67th minute as Philadelphia’s Jack McGlynn and San Jose’s Nico Tsarkis came on for Wolff and Edelman. Another pair of substitutions came in the 71st as Philadelphia’s Quinn Sullivan and Colorado Rapids’ Darren Yapi came on for Cowell and Luna. Varas’ final change came in the 77th minute as Real Sociedad’s Jonathan Gómez came on for Wiley.
Slonina came up big for the United States in stoppage time as he stretched to keep Timotej Jambor’s right-footed shot from finding the back of the net.
Substitute Nico Tsarkis doubled the United States lead in the 6th minute of stoppage time as he slotted a right-footed shot to the bottom-left corner of the goal to stretch the United States lead to two.
The U.S. held on to secure a 2-0 victory, its third win, and its third clean sheet of the Group Stage as they secured the top spot in Group B.
The identity of the United State’s opponent is unknown as of publishing but they will face the third-place finisher of either Group A, C, or D on Tuesday, May 30th, at 1:30 PM ET on FS2.