By FRANCO PANIZO
An easy victory. An early ticket to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup’s Round of 16.
The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team cruised to a 4-0 rout of tournament hosts New Zealand on Tuesday, and secured its passage to the knockout phase of the U-20 World Cup as a result. Bradford Jamieson, Emerson Hyndman, Paul Arriola, and Rubio Rubin all scored for the Americans, who took 30 shots in the Group A match compared to the Kiwis’ 11.
The three points picked up at North Harbor Stadium in Auckland put the undefeated U.S. (2-0) back atop the group with one game left to play, and moved it into the next round of the competition for the first time since 2007. New Zealand (0-1-1), meanwhile, is in third.
Jamieson, who filled in for the injured Maki Tall, scored the winner in just the sixth minute. Cameron Carter-Vickers nodded a corner kick off the woodwork on the play before the ball fell to Jamieson, who hit a shot that was deemed to fully cross the goal line before Rubin touched it to be safe.
In the 33rd minute, Jamieson helped set up the second goal when he flicked on a headed pass into the path of Rubin. New Zealand goalkeeper Oliver Sail tried to race off his line to get to the ball first, but his whiff allowed the trailing Hyndman to fire a shot into the open net.
Arriola may have had the Americans’ best finish on the day, as he received a silky through ball from Gedion Zelalem in the 58th minute before hitting a low cannon off the far post and in to make it 3-0.
Rubin capped the scoring with his final kick of the game in the 83rd minute, taking advantage of miscommunication and ball-watching from the New Zealand defense and stabbing home a shot from seven yards out.
New Zealand rarely tested the U.S. defense, but had a good opportunity to spoil the clean sheet late. Noah Billingsley unleashed a tricky shot in the 81st minute, but American goalkeeper Zack Steffen got down low to parry the attempt.
Substitute defender John Requejo almost made it 5-0 for the U.S. in the 86th minute, hitting a low ball that Sail pushed away.
The Americans had other opportunities to find the back of the net in a match it was in control of for almost the entire 90 minutes.
Rubin came close in the 14th minute on a blast that Sail flew to paw away, and Arriola had a hard shot of his own from a tight angle denied four minutes after halftime.
The U.S. will now gear up to take on Ukraine (1-0-1) in a battle for first place in the group finale at QBE Stadium on June 5. Ukraine handed Myanmar (0-2) a 6-0 mauling earlier on Tuesday.
What do you think of the U.S.’s 4-0 rout of New Zealand? Which players impressed/disappointed you? What were the keys to the Americans’ improved performance?
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