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U.S. U-20s overcome red card to tie Saudi Arabia, win World Cup group

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.


  1. CCV incidents were both fouls but maybe not yellows. Also, a big ,strong guy jumping on the back always looks worse than it is, So the big, strong guy must be aware of the optics. The weakness on defense and mindless midfield dribbling, particularly by DeLaTorre may hurt the USA against the better teams that close down people who hold the ball too long, allowing for quick counters. Meanwhile, Sargent is worth every penny someone will spend (Werder Bremen) on him. Jones can become good, but right now he is way too raw , with mediocre technique and quite undisciplined. Still, the USA has never looked better overall, I think.

  2. The commentators also totally missed the fact that SA’s captain was given a yellow, likely for persistent infringement. They just said it seemed harsh, like they weren’t even paying attention.. He fouled CCV 4 times before he was shown yellow. CCV barely touches him twice and gets sent off?? Ridiculous. Hopefully they appeal the suspension.

  3. I was at both the U-20 WC matches in Daejeon today. The refereeing was night and day, but I thought equally bad. In the France-NZL game, the referee essentially swallowed his whistle. France dominated the first half, but as NZL realized they could commit hard fouls with impunity, the second half was much closer as both teams made some pretty ugly challenges with scarcely a peep from the referee and the constant harassment from NZL took its toll on France’s possession style. I think the USA should have an easier time against NZL than they would have against France.

    The referee in the second game must have seen the first game and decided he would call the game much differently. Players from both the USA and Saudia Arabia wondered why they had been whistled for fouls. I was just as amazed at how little contact the referee would tolerate in the first half. I think it cost the USA a player. In the second half, the referee was not so quick to blow his whistle, but the damage to the US had already been done.

    I am torn between Lennon and de la Torre as man of the match, but on the basis of consistency over all 3 games, I would pick Lennon. His goal was a classic poacjher’s goal, just be in the right place at the right time and don’t miss.

    Klinsmann made a couple nice saves, nothing spectacular, but hard shots that could easily have bounced off a lesser keeper’s hands and no mental errors this game.

    Jones and Adams did well, as did the back four (including the sub Glad) except for the goal off a corner kick (I can’t blame Carter-Vickers for what I thought were phantom yellow cards, one probably wasn’t even a foul). Sargent and de la Torre worked hard to keep the US an attacking threat in the second half. I thought de la Torre did a better job of picking when to dribble at the defense (he still like so hold on to the ball a bit too much for my taste, but, at least, he attacked up the side instead of straight into a packed middle).

  4. The problem with the red card is that a lot of people don’t understand the rules of the game and become aggravated when the referee doesn’t agree with their sense of entitlement. The first card was for breaking up a counterattack option and the second for pushing the player with the shoulder from behind. Both of them absolutely deserved.
    Soccer would be a lot more enjoyable If some of your learned a little about it.

    • Rob, maybe you should not be so arrogant and the forum would be more enjoyable. Everyone can have an opinion and not get ridiculed for it.

      On the first card the Saudi player fell like a ton of bricks as soon as he felt a hand on his shoulder. If it actually was a foul I could see it as a yellow for slowing up a counter, but it was never a foul and it was right in front of the ref. Second card was total bs. Never a card and possibly not even a foul. He won the header and did not even touch the player in the head. Also, it was only his second foul of the game if it was a foul. If the ref feels that was a foul he needs to talk to the player at that point and not just start throwing cards around. It was not a dirty game and for there to be 7 cards was ridiculous.

    • Rob, you are definitely wrong. There was no way the second call should have been even a foul. The referee tried to call the game tighter than most referees would for a game of 10 year-olds. He adjusted in the second half, but that was after the damage was done for this game.

      Seven cards in a game wherein the players barely touched each other was ridiculous look at the France-NZL game if you want to see fouls and yellows not given. At one point a NZL player bear-hugged a French player from behind and took him to the ground with not even a second glance from the ref.

  5. Farcical officiating. The Saudis were also dealt some very questionable yellows.

    Some good saves by Klinsmann, but his distribution is atrocious.

  6. The ref should be fined, disciplined, and the card revoked. Complete bs call. He is either grossly incompetent or was being paid off. I suspect the latter. US Soccer needs to fight this.

  7. Now awaits New Zeland,,usa will face in 16 round,the mexicans has envy at the usa results
    the soccer magazines never publiced nothing,nothing of the prospects Sargent,pullisic,an iven
    The USA sebastian Saucedo,they don´t do that is just envy,they lost in u2,o whit the surprendet
    venezuela,and don like that,because usa is rising and growing and have lost in litle league jejejejeje i am mexican,but not fanatic,they are racist to in south of the border the inmigrante
    killand beat centroamerican….But usa is first place Lets go USA against New zelend,the only comentator who talk well of USA in bundesliga is the “TATO” noriega is very objetive

  8. Did anyone watch live? From the highlights I can’t figure out for the life of me why either foul warranted a yellow? Was there and elbow a stomp? Something?

      • If they can appeal CCV’s suspension I hope him cussing the 4th official on live TV doesn’t hurt his case. They didn’t bleep nothing out..”hey ref your f#cking sh!t, your f#cking sh!t

    • Not even a foul. A header and his arm was a little high in a natural jumping position. Announcers were almost at a loss for words. The guy who scored SA. goal was CCV’s mark…their biggest aerial threat. Our defense is in trouble against NZ.

      I hope there can be an appeal process.


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