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De La Torre’s late equalizer helps U.S. U-20s tie Ecuador

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team looked to be on the way to an opening-match loss at the Under-20 World Cup, but Luca De La Torre had other ideas.

The Fulham midfielder raced onto a failed headed clearance and volleyed home an equalizer in the final minute of second-half stoppage time to help the U.S. earn a 3-3 draw against Ecuador on Monday in Incheon, South Korea.

The late equalizer capped a dramatic back-and-forth affair that saw Ecuador jump out to a 2-0 lead in the opening minutes before the Americans rallied back behind a pair of goals from U.S. Under-17 standout Josh Sargent.

The U.S. looked to be in comfortable position with the match tied at 2-2, but goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann turned the ball over in his own penalty area to gift Ecuador a 3-2 lead. That looked like it might be the play that buried the Americans, but they continued to press forward for an equalizer, and found it in the dying moments of the match when Brooks Lennon floated a hopeful ball into the penalty area. Ecuador attempted to head the ball clear, but instead sent it right into the path of De La Torre, who hit a perfect shot from the top of the penalty area with just seconds remaining.

The Americans looked ready to be blown away early on, after some defensive breakdowns allowed Ecuador’s lightning-fast wingers to exploit space and score two goals in the opening seven minutes.

It looked like things would get worse for the U.S. after Gedion Zelalem suffered a knee injury that forced him out in the 34th minute. As it turned out, Zelalem’s departure was a turning point for the U.S. because it meant the insertion of Philadelphia Union midfielder Derrick Jones, who provided some much-needed bite in midfield.

The Americans cut Ecuador’s initial lead in half just two minutes after Jones’ inclusion, with De La Torre delivering a perfect pass to Sargent, who finished expertly from close range. The U.S. Under-17 standout equalized in the 54th minute when he converted a Brooks Lennon cross into a goal.

The United States will return to action Thursday with a match against Senegal, while Ecuador takes on Saudi Arabia.


  1. The picture of this article says it all…Sargent and Jones, heck of a game. Jones at 6’3 and the strength of an ox was perfect for this game, and the dude can dribble too. The sky is the limit with these two.

  2. Remember when this group lost their first match in qualifying and then ran off four straight victories to win the Concacaf Championship. Of course the runners up of Africa and Asia, probably are a little tougher than St. Kitts and Haiti.

    Curious to hear about CCV’s status.

    • I was wondering the same about CCV. If he is 100%, I would expect him to start the second game given Redding’s struggles against Ecuador.

  3. Team really missed Fossey, Ecuador abused the RB for their first 2 goals. It is amazing how the US always seems to find an injury to one of the least replaceable players in every major tournament.

    Luca and Sargent look like good prospects.

  4. I am presently working in Korea for a couple weeks and will get to see the 3rd group game in Daejeon before I return home. I was really happy to see them get the draw. I got back from work in Korea just in time to see Klinsmann’s screw-up and was worried I might be watching a meaningless game for the US, now even a loss vs Senegal means the US should have something to play for in the 3rd game.

    I thought Lennon was the difference maker in the end; he fought for balls and made at least 2 late minute crosses that troubled Ecuadore (the second resulted in the goal). Every team needs that guy who can dig deep and fight when things get tough. He proved he can do that. I was uninfluenced by the Korean announcers since I could understand only their excitement. I thought Palmer-Brown also stood out.

    As the US was pushing for the tying goal, I thought they tried too often to go through the middle and Ecuador successfully blocked the attempted through passes, it was not until Lennon got the ball out wide that the US found any joy. I Hope Ramos can get them to mix up the attack more effectively.

  5. Klinsmann and the defense was horrible. On each goal, not just the botched Klinsmann clearance, which really wasn’t a clearance but a goalkeeper thinking he could dribble around two field players.

  6. Redding and Herrera were terrible, Adams was nonexistent. Del la Torre, Lennon, Sargent and EPB played really well. Cobi Jones must be related to Derrick Jones because he praised him all game, don’t get me wrong he didn’t play bad but it was nothing more than a few physical battles and maybe they needed that. I think if Zelalem is out for the rest of the tournament it is a big blow because he looked decent before he got hurt, only thing that I thought was weird was how far forward Adams was playing.

  7. Only watched the second half, but Jones, EPB, Sargent, and De La Torre were all very good, with the finishes from the latter two pure class. Lennon was MOTM for me, he was relentless on the wing and his crossing was superb. Klinsmann will get criticized, as he should, but he also made a great save a few moments earlier; he looked like what he is, a youth keeper. Overall, the team showed great fight and some nice skill from what I saw; Jones needs to be in from the start, and Herrera and Redding need to improve if they are going to be in there.

    • I turned the game on injury time. I get the American Outlaws feed on Facebook and thought we were winning. The tying goal reminded me of MB 90’s goal against Slovenia.


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