Villarreal brace helps U.S. U-20s clinch World Cup spot with win over Canada

Villarreal brace helps U.S. U-20s clinch World Cup spot with win over Canada

U.S. Under-20 National Team

Villarreal brace helps U.S. U-20s clinch World Cup spot with win over Canada

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When Dylan Carreiro’s long-range shot beat Cody Cropper and gave Canada a surprising 1-0 lead on the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team, the goal was either going to lead to the U.S. team’s demise, or be a wake-up call for a squad that hadn’t really shown their best form yet.

Four goals later, the Americans were booking their place in the Under-20 World Cup.

Jose Villarreal notched two goals in a four-goal U.S. rally on their way to a 4-2 victory in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Under-20 World Cup Qualifying Tournament.

The victory booked the U.S. team’s place in the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer.

“I have to give the players so much credit for today,” said U.S. Under-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos. “Not only are they playing a very difficult game that has a lot of pressure, but at the same time they found themselves behind. I enjoyed seeing the satisfaction on the players’ faces when they accomplished something big. I’m glad to be a part of today’s result.”

The attacking quartet of Villarreal, Daniel Cuevas, Luis Gil and Mario Rodriguez was just too tough for the Canadian defense to handle, especially after Canada lost defensive leader Doneil Henry to a hamstring injury in the 33rd minute. The Americans overwhelmed the Canadians, putting the match out of reach early in the second half.

The U.S. attack flashed its quality after Canada’s opening goal, with Gil latching on to a Cuevas pass before taking a touch and calmly finishing just six minutes after Canada’s opening goal.

The Americans took the lead in the 40th minute when Rodriguez torched the Canadian defense and whipped in a dangerous pass that Villarreal one-timed past Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. Canada felt the absence of captain and defensive stalwart Doneil Henry in the 33rd minute

Canada looked poised to enter halftime down a goal, but the U.S. extended the lead just before halftime when Columbus Crew midfielder Wil Trapp sent a long-range blast off a Canadian defender and into the net to make the score 3-1 heading into the break.

Villarreal made it 4-1 in the 54th minute when he finished off a Benji Joya pass, and the match looked all but settled before Canadian midfielder Samuel Piette gave the Canucks some life with a 64th-minute blast from distance. Unfortunately for the Canadians, 4-2 was as close as they would come.

Now the U.S. will turn their attention to the CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament semifinals, where they will face Cuba on Friday. Cuba qualified for their first Under-20 World Cup by beating Costa Rica, 2-1, in Tuesday’s quarterfinal.

What did you think of the U.S. team’s performance on Tuesday? Which player impressed you the most? Think the Americans can win the CONCACAF Tournament? Excited for the Under-20 World Cup?

Share your thoughts below.

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