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U.S. U-20s clinch Round of 16 berth with rout of New Zealand

Paul Arriola U.S. U-20s 52



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?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Good game for the US, but New Zealand laid down at a certain point. It is about consistency, so let’s see how they do in the next game against Ukraine.

    Plus the U.S. Has notoriously struggled against former Soviet Union type countries.

    • Anyone would struggle against Ukraine. Those people have a high motor and lots of pride in addition to pro club experience which is an advantage we had on New Zealand but will not have on Ukraine. I expect a close win if Hyndman, Zelalem and Rubin can go 70 minutes or a close loss if they sit on the bench and we field a B lineup. We still lack depth and the team will take on a completely different complexion if we remove just one key player from the lineup, let alone three or more. Ukraine will be motivated and we will have eyes on making a deep run so I suspect Tab will take the appropriate action and rest some tired legs before exhaustion becomes injury. I though Tab should have sat Rubin and Hyndman after the third goal but he was greedy and wanted to preserve the shutout. If he sat them we wouldn’t have this problem now.

  2. I’m sad that I couldn’t catch yesterday’s match. This team has the more potential Senior National team players than 2013, though one famous Soccer America pundit would never admit since its best two players have come through the English Academy system and don’t speak Spanish.

      • Actually I would bet that Hyndman speaks at least some Spanish, but it isn’t his first language.

        My intent was to point out the irrationality of Paul Gardner who’s blather about the lack of talent on this team when compared to the 2013 team betrays his lack of knowledge.

        Other than Yedlin, no one of that team looks like they’ll make a serious contribution the senior squad. This team has 3, Hyndman, Rubin and Zelalem who look like locks if they can stay healthy and as many as 6 others who could see playing time.

  3. Would love to see a 3 man midfield w Gedion and Hyndman in front of Bradley. A couple years away but could be the best we’ve ever seen in US shirts..

    • +1, Jozy up top and pick 2 mid/wingers to fill it out. (Bedoya? Gyau? Green? FJ? etc). Shea, Brooks, Alvarado, Yedlin across the back line. sounds like a solid WC 2018 lineup to me…

      • Yeah if a guy who will be 28 and as of right now scores a goal about every 3 games he plays for the National Team is our best striker then we’re in trouble…right. You people are hilarious.

      • ^^^ THIS ^^^

        Now if you meant to say, “if Jozy is our best striker by miles with no challengers pushing him for a starting role” I might be able to co-sign that sentiment. But a goal every three is damn impressive.

      • He is the leading scorer because he is the only one that gets to play CF. To think Jozy is a complete player you are fooling yourself, he is a limited player when compared to other National team CFs. One day we will have a true CF, waiting for that day.

  4. Team looked tremendous. This was exactly what we want to see from them. I’m very excited to follow the development of a lot of these guys. That said, It’s one game and it’s new zealand. None of these guys are world class yet or may ever be sombre dual out down a little bit. Still, I can’t wait to see them against a traditional power to see how they match up.

  5. Before people get too excited, this team is too wasteful with their opportunities. They should scored 7 goals. Steffan was too shaky at times and some panicky defending sometimes.

  6. We need to remember that this was against a bad u-20 team, but the team did look great. I thought having Arriola and Jameison on from the start brought some extra firepower to the team. Unlike the first game, this performance by Zelalem was worthy of praise. He looked great out there. He did cost Rubin a goal by trying to get too fancy with a behind the front-leg pass and passed it behind the charging Rubin, but that is a very minor complaint. I actually like that he tried the pass.

  7. Finally, an excellent performance. I think this team may stand a chance to make it deep in this competition, based on watching the other teams play.

  8. These last two games were against the two worst teams in the tournament. Let’s see what they do up against better competition before we get all wet.

  9. Wow. The future looks bright boys and girls. It would take an absolute meltdown for this guys to go down. They are amazing to watch definetly an USA team plays the way we envisioned. Zalalem is world class. All the other boys are absolutely amazing also. No complaints here and they are just starting to gel. The cup is ours.

    • I’ve watched a few of the games and none of the teams gave looked as good as the U.S. Looked last night. The opponents are somewhat better but last night theboyslooked like they could hang with and compete against anyone in this tourney

  10. loved watching every second of this team play so far in the first two games. NZ and Burma played good games and did not try to bunker/make the game ugly like concacaf opponents did in qualifying – making this group look even more dynamic.

    before I go on and on about how this is the best generation since the ’07 u20’s (better imo) its about to get real with Ukraine and the knockout rounds. can’t wait to see this team vs. the likes of Argentina, Ghana, Germany, Brazil, etc. Confidence & team ability is at an all time high with this group – hope Tab can channel it into a deep run.

  11. this team, despite a shaky start in the first game, has gone out and done exactly what we expected. and my goodness, Zelalem looks fantastic. curious to see how they look against Ukraine and some better competition.

  12. Only need a draw now against Ukraine to win the group. Winning the group should ensure an easier round of 16 opponent so hopefully they can take care of business.

    • The announcer said that if they win the group they will play a third place team in the next round. I don’t remember what group that would be from, but we may not learn who that would be until their last game anyway.

      • I hate how we always give accolades for just GETTING to the group of 16. We need to WIN our groups to be really put in a position to be paired against beat the weaker teams. I would wait until all the teams have played at least two games to really give an idea what/who the US may face, but not winning our group, we face stronger competition and the liklihood of a loss.

        Good example: were the US to lose against Ukraine later this week, we would play the second place team in Group C. First and Second in this group now is Portugal and Columbia, respectively.

        Should the US win its group, it would face the best third place team in group C,D or E. The teams holding down third and fourth in these groups are: Qatar, Senegal (C) Serbia and Mexico (D) and Nigeria and Korea DPR (E) With the exception of Mexico, the US would have a much better match against the 3rd place teams as listed, rather than Portugal or Columbia. And while the U20’s should not be compared to the Sr teams from those respective countries, the youth programs and the talent from them, are much more recognized.

        We, of course need much more soccer to be played before the playoff scenarios can be finalized and there are always surprises, but the above example shows that, not only do we need talented players, and a bit of luck to get to the top of the tournament, we also need the easiest trail to the top, and by winning the group we might get it.

  13. I loved how aggressive the attack was tonight, even after the subs came in. Those guys were hungry for goals, and the insertion of Zelalem, Jamieson, and Arriola into the starting lineup made a huge difference in the U.S. approach. Zelalem and Hyndman dominated the center of the park, particularly in the second half, and Jamieson and Arriola provided great width all night. If one word described the squad in this game, it would be relentless. New Zealand was poor defensively, yes, but you have to credit the U.S. for making them look bad; they never let up and didn’t allow New Zealand to get comfortable at any point.

  14. After some of his errors it feels strange to type it — and I don’t know if it’s more a reflection of his improvement or his replacements’ quality — but I look forward to Miazga’s return to RBNY.

    • Me too. Matt’s played well this year after some growing pains last season. Not the finished article yet but I think he’s been far better. The red card against NYCFC was naive but overall I see improvement. RBNY’s next league game after this weekend is the 20th so he’ll be back unless the US is in the final.

  15. Great game by the team. Vickers, zelalem, hyndman, Rubin, and Acosta are the real deal and I think have very bright futures I front of them. Delgado has been the biggest disappointment for me so far.

    • I’m agree on all but Acosta. He’s still too inconsistent IMO. Canouse is also a good player who I think will have an impact at the senior level as will Thompson I think though he may need to leave San Jose to do so. Delgado peaked as a player over a year ago, I know that he’s coming off of surgery, but he was flat before that.

  16. It’s tough not to get excited. New Zealand was awful, for sure, but I haven’t seen skill like I saw tonight from the U.S. since the Adu, Bradley and Altidore u-20 team.

    Zelalem, Hyndman and Rubin are uber dynamic, I wouldn’t be shocked if all three of them are on the Copa squad next year. CCV, BJ, Payne, Tall, Miazga, and Arriola have all looked solid too.

    Combine them with the U-17 gems and guys like Morris and well, there’s attacking depth coming up the pipeline that we’ve never had before. PLUS, Nagbe and Manneh will hopefully both be US eligible within the next year, ay dios mio!

    • Im not so sure Nagbe would be an impact player for USMNT. Seems to me he has not done much in the MLS the last couple of years.

      • Yeah. We don’t have another Nagbe in the pool. There’s not much the guy doesn’t do well. I’m honestly shocked some Euro squad hasn’t come in for him for very big money already.

      • He doesn’t go left or use his left foot. In that way he limits himself. It’s like playing a guy in basketball that can only dribble with his right hand- he’s great with the one hand, but you just have to make him go the other way to semi-neutralize him. I’m a Timbers fan and I have watched him play many times. He is capable of a lot, but he’s not good enought for USMNT at this point IMHO.

      • Matt,

        I’ve watched Nagbe a lot and used to be very enthusiastic about his potential. He just seems to have gone flat. Maybe its being with the Timbers, but I expected to see more from him by now.

    • Wait a minute, it was New Zealand and Myanmar they beat and one not that convincingly. I’ll wait to see how composed they are and how many passes they can connect against stiffer competition before believing they are the”best ever”.

      But when you consider that these players are the beginning of the first 2nd generation soccer players in the USA (their parents played in the early years of the USA’s soccer boom), perhaps it is not too much to expect good things. When the kids who were 8 to 10 in 1994 start having their kids showing up as u-20 players in another 10 years or so, I expect things will begin to get real exciting.

      • As usual, we arent really talking about the score here. 3-0, 5-0, 4-0 whatever. The thing that has people excited is the amount of skill shown in securing the win. Clearly we will see what happens later, particularly with the draw, but this is the kind of thing we are supposed to get excited about… a good looking youth team is usually a good sign for the senior team after all.

  17. Zelalem looked like the best player on the field by a country mile. It seemed like he was playing different game than everyone else. Incredible vision that seemed to be toying with NZ U-20. but he wasn’t the only bright spot as there were numerous standouts on the field for the US. Tonight US U-20 were so fluid they honestly looked like they could compete with the senior squad. Good job guys. Keep it up!

    • Agree he looked good, glad I stayed up and watched. Gedion and Emerson should be our future going forward. Let the haters come in now

      • If we can get Hyndman to build up his frame just a bit more he is going to be a mainstay in the US midfield for years to come… He is also going to earn Fulham a very hefty transfer fee… Class on the ball that we have not really seen since Claudio Reyna

      • I thought Zelalem and Hyndman had an incredible dynamic between them during the game. It’s like they have been playing together for years, and reading the game and each other just slightly faster than everyone else on the field. It reminds me of Dempsey and Obafemi Martins in Seattle.

      • Before we get too carried away, have you been watching the Toulon tournament? I think the difference in speed of play between the U-20’s and the U-23’s is significant. New Zealand wasn’t exactly a tough challenge. Let’s wait and see how these guys do in a high pressure, very fast paced atmosphere before anointing them the next saviors.

      • I hate to say it, but I agree. WE got out outplayed by a “much better” French side and “out muscled” by a pacier and “harder fighting” Costa Rican side. I was going to point out that the ref almost lost control of the game, but OUR boys need to step up, and represent the colors.

        The Toulon Tourney has been a revelation to me in that Jurgen is right. There appears to be a lack of “professionalism” shown by OUR sub-23’s. They need to get into a less comfortable professional environment order to continue their development, IMHO.

        The U-20’s show that they will be a step above when they reach that age, I have no doubt of it.

        The interplay, the collective movement, the play of the center back pair has been stellar. I don’t know how far they will go in the tourney, but Rubin and Hyndman, et all have been quality.

      • The US has long suffered a talent drain in between the u-18 and u-20 teams. NCAA rules are part of, but not all the reason for the smaller and shallower talent pool. The value of a university education seems to be diminishing as degree prices keep shooting up. It’s turning around because the risk/benifet trade-off is turning in soccers favor. With MLS pay raises, increased international prospects and exposure for prospective tallent, getting a college degree vs earning 30k a year in MLS then being booted into the labor force with no degree, and no non-soccer work experience at the age of 30 is no longer seen as quite the risk it was a few years ago. Lots of jobs, even for college grads are contract labor with only a few years of security,and MLS pay is now more competitive with the stagnant wages in much of the labor force.

    • I was actually more impressed with Rubin and Hyndman. Not to take anything away from Zelalem though, he was fantastic in the second half.

    • I would agree that Gideon did look great tonight. As others has mentioned, his vision and poise on the ball is something that we just don’t have elsewhere at the u-20 level (Bradley might be the only other player we have in the entire system with this same true 10 skill set).

      The only thing that I didn’t like about him today was how lackadaisical he seemed at times. There were several occasions where I found him just standing around in the box, even when crosses were being sent in. I know it’s easy to lose tenacity in a game like this, but he seemed to be the only one in blue who seemed almost bored.

      Lastly, I’m really excited about carter-vickers as well. Him and Miazga have been very solid in the center of the defense so far. Our youthful talent at the center back position has certainly taken a turn in the positive direction in the last few years.

      • I think the US, and Zelalem in particular, were guilty in the second half of playing like they were “styling.” I was reminded of a cat playing with a mouse after it has been caught. They tried to be tricky and too clever at times. I much prefer that they quickly and efficiently slice and dice an opponent who is so clearly out matched and do away with the window dressing. Get a big lead, play possession, leave the field. Too often I see players get cute with the ball, turn it over and have it turn into a dangerous counter attack.

      • Ramos reminded me a lot more of Hyndman than Zelalem. Which honestly says a bunch about how good Hyndman is.

        We haven’t really seen a Zelalem in the US pool before, IMHO.

        Having the two working together in the center of the park really sprung some stuff and it’s why the attack looked so fluid last night. They did a good job of climbing to different levels and so it was good touch after good touch, good pass after good pass, with all sorts of intelligent, purposeful movement in between…the ball just sort of zipped elegantly through the midfield and then was out for the forwards, wingers, or wingbacks – Payne did a REALLY good job providing width on the outside, and unlike Acosta, he seems to know what offsides is and timed his forward runs well. But they also combined very well right through the middle as well.

        Good stuff. Great stuff, really.

      • DaMa,

        That wasn’t really Tab’s style.

        That was more something Clint Mathis, the original Clint, would do.

      • Yeah, he reminded me more of John O’Brien and Tab Ramos. Hyndman reminded more of Claudio Reyna. Clint Mathis was more of a forward and, frankly, more flash, big mouth then substance. Clint Mathis was a very poor version of Dempsey.

      • Deuce is a better player than Cletus but the thing about Mathis is he was the first American player, I can remember who had that:

        “F++k them let them worry about me, I ain’t backing down from no one” attitude and could back it up.

        He was not afraid of anyone and , at the time , that was an unheard of attitude.

      • Ah, the fickleness of fans (not you particularly). After the Myanamar game some people were calling for Ramos to be sacked. He was way over rated wrote one. Some said he had no idea of what he was doing. Now a good win and he’s king of the world.

      • People only saw Myanmar…not a team that made the U20 World Cup over typical AFC powerhouses Japan, South Korea, Australia and Iran

    • Absolutely majestic performance at times from Zelalem. Holy cow. We expect quality from Hyndman and we got it, again, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a US player with that kind of sheer effortless skill. Guy just glided around at times and just toyed with New Zealand defenders, and those splitting balls were things of beauty. I can only imagine the soccer stiffie JK got watching Zelalem tonight, and somewhere in London, Arsene Wenger was sipping cognac and cackling “Good, good, good!” in his best Emperor Palpatine voice. (Am I the only one who’s noticed Wenger is a dead ringer for the Sith Lord? Oh, nevermind. But the Force is strong with Zelalem, whatever.)

      Also…dare I say this? Rubin reminds me more than a little of Luis Suarez, minus the overbite and propensity for cannibalism. Absolute live wire, can poach and finish, always seemed to be a step ahead of everybody else, went in with relentlessness and intent, was full of ideas, and was as willing to drive and dish as he was to take the shot himself. His Dutch club is going to be selling him to somebody in England for a great deal of money before much longer, as the Dutch clubs do. (Of course, as English clubs do, they will undoubtedly fire their manager a game later and then put Rubin on the bench as a first order of business, while Rubin continues to score goals at a wondrous rate for the USMNT.)

      Also, as good as Rubin was, Bradford Jameison was right there with him for the first 60. Jameison stole Gyasi Zardes’ hairdo but it honestly looks like Jameison might be a more technical player, with a better first touch, than Zardes, and he definitely has similar speed and a similar frame.

      Only real weak spot was Acosta at left back. Again. Payne was a big upgrade at right back, but Acosta…oh, my. Made some head-scratching decisions and turnovers, and got fried a bunch in 1-on-1 situations when he dove in and stopped his feet like a U-10…you could practically hear all the youth coaches in the building going: “Don’t stab, don’t stab, don’t stab….crap.” Zach Steffan also looked like he replaced his cleats with clown shoes before the match. From the ankles up he looked like a good keeper, but he looked like he had a banana peel on the bottom of both cleats. What WAS that, anyhow?

      Still, in all…some durn good talent on that U-20 squad. They should go through Ukraine pretty readily if they play like they did last night, and if I was on that U-23 Toulon squad, I’d be pretty nervous about my spot on the Olympic team, from what I’m seeing.

      • There had to have been something about the pitch. People were slipping all match. The ref even went down that one time.

      • The Suarez comparison is a good one for Rubin, not saying he will be that good but in his style of play.

        The performance by CCV was great. Considering he is close in age to being a “98” he is freaking really good.

        There is a lot to like about this group. fwiw Julian Green played well today with the U-23’s.

        The next two games should be fun to watch as the competition will be getting much better.

      • quozzel,

        This is where the obligatory ” it is a little early to hype these kids yet. You have to consider the opposition etc. etc. etc.” gets mentioned.

        All of that said it is encouraging that kids like Hyndman, Rubin, Jameison and GZ are at clubs with a good level of competition and where it seems the management values them.

        Which means that after the tournaments are over they should be able to continue developing. Exciting times.

      • Well, I was going to to temper the enthusiasm. Was I the only one crazy enough to stay up ridiculously late to watch the game? If you didn’t see the game, the announcer mentioned that in the 8 games NZ played before the WC (they didn’t have to qualify, so they played a bunch of friendlies), they won only once.. NZ is not a very good team. And no way is Jamieson yet at Zardes’ level. Zardes is about two seasons of MLS level play ahead of him.

      • And Jamieson plays much better when he starts his runs from further back. At times with LAG he is assigned to play the point and has a hard time adjusting.

      • Gary, you’re on the west coast… I’m in South Florida and I stayed up!! If you’re crazy… then I’m waaaaaay over the Cuckoo’s Nest

      • I was on the live commentary, and I didn’t see you there 😉

        Kidding apart (I don’t doubt you stayed up and watched….) you are right that NZ isn’t very good. But they are the host country and they did hold Ukraine (who beat Myanmar 6-0) to a scoreless draw in a match they really should’ve one but for an epic miss.

        And coming up in global soccer is no easy task. To say NZ only won one match of their first 8 isn’t as bad as it sounds. Just look at our senior performance at World Cup in the modern soccer era. In our first 10 matches (1990-1998). we won exactly one match (1994 vs. Colombia). Besides that? 8 losses and one draw. Yet we weren’t a complete joke. Even made it to the knockout round in 1994, losing by a solitary goal to the eventual champions Brazil.

        I think you are right about Jamieson. Two seasons behind Gyasi is a good assessment right now. Assuming he continues getting quality minutes.

      • “His Dutch club is going to be selling him to somebody in England for a great deal of money before much longer, as the Dutch clubs do. (Of course, as English clubs do, they will undoubtedly fire their manager a game later and then put Rubin on the bench as a first order of business, while Rubin continues to score goals at a wondrous rate for the USMNT.)”

        lol… nice

      • Dude, I was thinking the exact same thing! But I don’t want to contribute to the hype train.

        Every time he took the ball down his first move was to push it forward into the attack with a Suarez like aggressive nature. He was relentless about getting into the Chanel and never backed down from a single aerial dual even when it was 2v1. The thing I enjoyed most was two misses he made because he pulled the trigger as soon as the chance came to shoot.

        This aggressive attacking play made the defense back up constantly allowing Hyndman, Zelalem, Jamison and Ariola to push forward in a way overrunning the midfield and overpowering the defensive line of NZ. Also allowing Payne, Acosta and the 6 to be closer to the attacking 5, clean up loose passes and switch play to keep the pressure on.

        excellent performance

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