KENYA BROWN - Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Crucial saves from goalkeeper Zack Steffen and a 58th minute goal from Rubio Rubin proved vital for the U.S. Under-20 national team as they held on for a 1-0 win over Colombia at the U-20 World Cup.
The Americans were out-shot, out-possessed and down a man late in the game, but some players stepped up at the right times to continue the team's run in the tournament.
While it was a great moment for the youngsters, there was some concern in the early stages of the game as forward Bradford Jamieson took a nasty fall in the third minute and in the process got injured. The 18-year-old LA Galaxy prospect laid motionless on the field for several minutes and was carried off on a stretcher. It was later reported that he suffered a head contusion which will very likely end his stint in the tournament.
Back to the action on the field and both sides would push to score the first goal of the game, but their chances went for naught and the first half ended scoreless.
The second half would be a much different story than the first as the Colombians would put pressure on the U.S. defense, but goalkeeper Zack Steffen would be there to make the crucial saves to keep his side in the tightly-contested game.
After absorbing the pressure of countless Colombian attacks, the Americans would find their footing and their efforts would finally pay off with the only goal of the game in the 58th minute.
U.S. captain Emerson Hyndman would head the ball to Paul Arriola who would take an attempt at goal. Colombian defender Juan Quintero blocked the shot, but could not clear it. That left Rubin the opportunity to collect the ball and put his own shot past the near post to give the Americans the lead.
There was an air of desperation on the Colombian side and they pushed hard for the equalizer, but U.S. was once again able to withstand the pressure.
It appeared that head coach Tab Ramos' side were going to hold off the South Americans until controversy arose in the 81st minute. U.S. midfielder Kellyn Acosta would tangle up with Rodin Quinones in penalty area before the Colombian somewhat dubiously tumbled to the ground. Referee Antonio Ivan Bebek was quick to point to the penalty spot and give Acosta his second yellow card which dropped the U.S. side to 10 men.
Los Cafeteros midfielder Jarlan Barrera would step to take the penalty, but Steffen would guess right on his dive and parry the attempt away, preserving the Americans slim lead.
The Colombians had one more good opportunity in the 84th minute as Barrera took a shot at goal from the top of the area, but Arriola would be in the right place at the right time to head the ball away.
The final whistle showed the contrasting reactions of both sides as the Americans celebrated wildly while the Colombians dropped to ground in agony over ruing the many chances they had to put the game out of reach.
The U.S. will next face Serbia in the quarterfinals in Auckland on Sunday.