The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team didn’t exactly get the result it was looking for, but Sunday’s effort proved just enough to finish atop their World Cup group. However, it didn’t come without a major loss along the way.
Despite Cameron Carter-Vickers’ dismissal, the 10-man U.S. U-20s held on to earn a 1-1 draw with Saudi Arabia in Sunday’s group stage finale. The draw was enough for the U.S. to finish atop the group, booking a knockout stage match against New Zealand in the process.
Primarily a playmaker throughout the Americans’ first two games, Brooks Lennon showed his skills as a goalscorer by firing the U.S. ahead in the 40th minute. The Real Salt Lake winger was on the end of some spectacular build up play as Sebastian Saucedo, Josh Sargent and Luca de la Torre all attacked the Saudi Arabia defense. De la Torre’s shot was parried away, only to fall right to Lennon for a shot at the back post.
The lead lasted until the 75th minute when Abdulelah Alamr was left unmarked for a wide-open header, earning Saudi Arabia a hard-fought point and place in the Round of 16.
The game’s pivotal moments came towards the end of the first half. Carter-Vickers was initially issued a questionable yellow card shortly before the U.S. goal for an apparent foul in the midfield. In first-half stoppage time, the Tottenham defender was called for another foul as he contested a header, prompting a dubious second yellow from referee Diego Haro.
On the defensive end, Jonathan Klinsmann was called into action several times, with one save coming almost immediately on a fourth-minute chance. His biggest stop came just moments before Saudi Arabia’s breakthrough as the U.S. goalkeeper parried away a shot from Ayman Alkhulaif. In total, Saudi Arabia outshot the U.S., 12-9, with five of Saudi Arabia’s shots coming on target.
U.S. coach Tab Ramos made just one change to his starting lineup, inserting Saucedo for Eryk Williamson.
The U.S. now looks ahead to Thursday’s match with New Zealand, a team which the American defeated, 4-0, at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup. Carter-Vickers will miss that match, and the U.S. will also be without Derrick Jones and Aaron Herrera for that match, as both drew yellow cards that earned them suspensions for the Round of 16 match.