Don’t look now, but the United States has a soccer team in contention at a world event. No, the 2023 Women’s World Cup hasn’t started yet, I’m talking about the 2023 U-20 World Cup. U.S. Soccer‘s under-20 men’s team just blitzed the group stage, finishing first by dominating three matches without allowing a goal. Now the lads enter the Round of 16 with a real chance to do some damage on the world stage.
The U.S. opened the tournament with a 1-0 win over Ecuador. The match was tied 0-0 late when left back Jonathan Gomez scored an incredible goal in the 93rd minute.
That tally set the team up for the next two matches.
The U.S. completely dominated Fiji, but missed a number of golden opportunities to score. In the end, a 3-0 victory was a bit of a disappointment considering the overwhelming amount of chances the Americans had to score. Diego Luna finally broke through in the 66th minute, opening things up for the U.S.
Then on Friday, the Americans faced Slovakia, which could have been a tricky matchup. Instead, the U.S. held shape, got a wondergoal from San Jose Earthquakes forward Cade Cowell, plus a stoppage time goal from his San Jose teammate Niko Tsakiris and a 2-0 win secured a perfect run through Group B.
Cowell has led the way for the U.S., scoring two goals, creating numerous chances and being the team’s most dangerous playmaker. The 19-year-old has already made three appearances with the senior national team and has garnered interest from European clubs. He’s been fantastic, but the team is solid top to bottom. Keeper — and Chelsea product — Gabriel Slonina has been excellent. Meanwhile, Gomez, Luna, Justin Che and Caleb Wiley have all played well.
The U.S. finished Group B 3-0, while scoring six goals and allowing none. The Americans will now face one of the best third place teams on Tuesday with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this squad made a deep run given how they’ve played.