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U.S. U-20s eliminated from U-20 World Cup in extra time loss to Venezuela

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team held on for as long as they could but, in the end, they couldn’t hold on long enough to advance past Sunday’s World Cup quarterfinal.

Following a 90 minute period where they faces wave after wave of attack, the U.S. eventually fell, 2-1, to Venezuela thanks to a Adalberto Peñaranda in extra time. The loss eliminated the U.S. at the quarterfinal stage for the second consecutive U-20 World Cup.

After 96 minutes of close calls and squandered chances, Venezuela finally broke through through Peñaranda. Following a throw-in, Venezeula broke through on the left side. Peñaranda ran onto a driven cross into the center of the box, leaving Jonathan Klinsmann helpless as Venezuela took a lead they would never relinquish.

That lead was doubled in the game’s final moments as the U.S. pushed for a look at goal. On a Venezuela corner kick, Nahuel Ferraresi headed home to push the scoreline to 2-0. Just moments later, the U.S. was back into it as Jeremy Ebobisse gave the U.S. a chance with a 117th minute finish, the first goal Venezuela has given up at the U-20 World Cup.

The Americans’ best chance of the match came late in regular time. On the last kick of regular time, Erik Palmer-Brown’s headed effort went inches wide of the net as the teams marched on for 30 more minutes. Once there, Venezuela continued to pile on pressure before Peñaranda fired home to seal a semifinal spot.

Venezuela brought the heat early in the match, and the U.S. would have been in major trouble if not for the play of Jonathan Klinsmann and the decisions of the video assistant referee.

Klinsmann came up big from the opening whistle, making a fingertip save just seconds into the match. He added another diving stop in the first half as Venezuela dominated the first half out. Eventually, though, Klinsmann was beaten by a Sergio Cordova shot, but the goal was eventually waved off for offside after a review from the video assistant referee.

While the U.S. stepped up play towards the end of the first half, the second started with yet another Venezuelan onslaught. The South American side continued the pressure with a 49th minute header that clanged off the crossbar. Klinsmann was then called upon to make two more saves between the 60th and 65th minutes while another shot drilled the crossbar in between.

Even when Klinsmann couldn’t get his hands to the ball, Venezuela somehow couldn’t find the back of the net. In the 73rd minute, a shot bounced off a defender and right into Klinsmann before the ensuing rebound was sent wide from within the six-yard box.

Palmer-Brown’s chance came on the precipice of extra time and it proved a miss the U.S. would regret as they bowed out of the tournament in the quarterfinal round.


  1. Its hard to believe that in a World Cup knockout round, FIFA would schedule things so that
    one team had a 2-day rest advantage over a 2nd round opponent. That would certainly be
    a game changer at that level. I could see a team with a 1-day advantage over a 1st round opponent owing to the way the Groups ended, but the brackets should have been set up to have the 1st rounds winners playing on the same day in the same bracket, and then playing
    each other in the 2nd round.

    As far as Venezuela being a better team, when I checked their
    qualifying to get into the U-20 World Cup, in their 1st S/A Q-round, all 4 of their matches
    were draws 0-0. 0-0, 0-0, & 1-1. They only got to the 2nd round on goal differential vs
    Bolivia. There they were in a 3-way tie for 2-4, with 4 teams qualifying for the WC. So that
    is how they got in. Ecuador won the qualifying tournament easily and Brazil got knocked
    out on a controversial PK call which knocked them from 2nd to 5th by 1 point. So based
    on their 1st qualifying round, Ven. can certainly play defense and keep goals-against down.
    Had the U. S. had a couple more days of rest, they certainly could have generated more
    aggressive play and had a few more scoring opportunities. The U. S. chance to move on
    was to score 1st and then slow the game down. In the Group Stage, the teams scoring
    1st went 24-3-9(includes 0-0 draws). Mexico ended up about the same as the U. S. in
    its group match with Venezuela. But the rest there was equal. I hope CONCACAF makes
    an issue of the scheduling.

    My bet is for England to take it all.

  2. I watched Germany lose to Venezuela in the group opener. Venezuela made Germany look slow and unable to create any dangerous chances despit having more possession the US had. Four games and no goals allowed in regulation time is a pretty good statement about the quality of Venezuela’s defense.

    I was not impressed with Venezuela’s ability to finish, but when you can create so many quality chances something will go in eventually.

    The US U-20s midfield got taken to the cleaners, they could not maintain possession, left the back line with too much to do and failed to provide any service to the forwards. Even Lennon who sort of held his own really was unable to make an impression on the game except for a couple great services off set pieces. De la Torre was largely unable to find a way to make an impact when his dribbles were stopped (when he can beat defenders he looks good, when he can’t, he looks clueless).

    Glad, Palmer-Brown and Carter-Vickers had too much to do, but they soldiered through and did not surrender despite the constant pressure. In a game like this, it is hard to say the back line played well, but despite the pressure they mostly maintained their composure and made that final play tough for the Venezuelans.

    • What on Earth are you talking about?

      We got to the final 8 and fell to what has certainly looked like by far and away the best team of the U20 tournament, one that looks to be having the Mother Of All Golden Generations, and took them to extra time…and you are look for a treatise on the “poor state of American soccer?”

      Sometimes the other team is just plain better, and Venezuela was.

      • As good as Venezuela is, I don’t know how much of a difference it would have made, but let’s not forget that the US was missing Zelalem, Wright and Mckennie and our best U-20 of all, Pulisic. I think it’s a pretty good talent pool for the future.

    • I had the same thought. Based on my memory, I think this Venezuelan team is better than the Serbian team that beat the US on penalty kicks in the last U-20. That Serbian team ended up winning the whole thing and I think this Venezuelan team is better. Also, the two extra days rest for Venezuela began to show up in the last 20-25 minutes of the second half. By extra time, US defenders were about as mobile as traffic cones; they were dead on their feet.

    • Eerily similar. Timing of goals and everything. Klinsmann had a great match. We needed Dr la Torre more centrally imo. Two extra days rest makes a huge difference. Still lost to a very good team and will prepare our youngsters to compete for playing time this coming presaeson.


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