Top Stories

World Cup run ends for U.S. U-20s with loss to Ecuador

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team put up a fight, but it was not enough and the World Cup run has come to an end as a result.

Ecuador used a late first-half goal from Jhon Jairo Espinoza to beat the Americans, 2-1, and eliminate them from the competition on Saturday. Espinoza struck in the 43rd minute off a low cross, and the winner stood despite VAR taking a look at the play for a potential offside.

The U.S. has now been knocked out in the quarterfinals for the third straight U-20 World Cup.

VAR had to be used on the game’s decisive play just before halftime, as Espinoza’s sliding finish drew protests of offside from the Americans. The goal stood, however, because although Espinoza was ahead of his defender, he was behind the ball when it was played.

The finish came after an Ecuadorean shot from far smashed off the crossbar. Ecuador won it back immediately, and the ball eventually found Espinoza inside the six-year box for a the winner.

Sebastian Soto had a clear chance to pull the U.S. level in the 58th minute after being played in the area by second half substitute Ulysses Llanez. Soto hit the wrong side of the net with his attempt, however.

Ecuador opened the scoring at the half-hour mark. Jose Adoni Cifuentes took advantage of the space he was given on the play and uncorked an absolute blast from distance that soared past goalkeeper David Ochoa.

It took six minutes for the Americans to respond, and it was Tim Weah who provided the equalizer. A corner kick from the left ricocheted off an Ecuador defender and the ball fell to Weah for a superb volleyed finish that came with plenty of sizzle.

Ecuador, however, found its winner and the U.S. never mustered a response.


  1. I was cautiously optimistic going in to this tourney. There is a lot of talent on this team. Youth team losing to SA champions was def less disappointing than MNT losing a friendly to Jamaica. Without being a pessimist, Sargent definitely would’ve made a contribution, but would Soto have had 4 goals? 5 players from this squad will be eligible in the next U20 WC. Carleton, Goslin, G. Acosta, B. Ferri, Sands, T. Booth were part of the U17 WC(India), didn’t make the squad. Lindsey(injured), & Dos Santos (DNP- coach decision) were starters on that team as well as consistent players in this age group. World beaters? No! Solution to the player development problem, that’s been plaguing US it’s whole futbol life? Yes. A lot of work to be done? (Koolaid man voice) Ooo, yeahhh!! My biggest question- how many players will be able to integrate & contribute to the MNT?

  2. Who was the starting goalkeeper for USA in the tourney? Or Ramos played everybody back there. Wrong if he did not stick to one starting goalkeeper. I know did not lose because of keeper.

    More importantly, who was the right back or the player that all but watch and admired how the Ecuadorian scored that first goal unchallenged?

  3. I’m disapointed I thought Ledesma should have got the start with llanez but they didn’t mendez never really showed up this tournament. Ledesma has great control on the ball you even saw that today he was able to turn around with pressure mendez at times could not. Players with a great future ahead of them though in Dest Richards Golster Ledesma Soto Weah. Pomykal showe’d he could hold the ball but never connected great passes in final third also never took many shot on goal midfielders should always have that in there arsenal. Also who knows if sargent inclusion would have made this stronger thanks greg!

  4. Good game. Almost strange to watch the US lose, but be happy for the most part with how they played. A couple of lapses in concentration cost us a winnable game, but fair play to Ecuador, who along with Ukraine are probably the two best teams in the tourney. I’m very excited about a number of the prospects who emerged, particularly Dest. Amazing defender with an excellent shot. Future is bright!

  5. Good thing for Ecuador that the US beat France. Seemed like this QF was balanced. I thought strength on the ball was a disadvantage at times for the US; some of the Ecuadorians looked physically much past the US players. In any event, looks like there are a handful of players that will advance for the US, which is terrific.

  6. Dest has another good game along with Weah. As the tournament progressed they both got better. It would have been nice though if Weah did not take that shot late in the 2nd half that was wide and high but instead squared it inside into the penalty box to the open player who looked to be Soto. De La Fuente being a 17 yr old I think showed today but even Llanez who replaced him struggled as well in the 2nd half. Keita has to think faster in order to be a better consistent passer out of the back. Every game he had a gaffe that was avoidable. Perhaps a younger Omar Gonzalez? Let’s hope not and hoping that he Keita will improve as he gets older. Man of the tournament for me was Paxton Pomykal. If he doesn’t get some serious offers during this summers transfer window I will be disappointed that others did not rate him as highly. Just behind Paxton I would have Richards who was consistently good throughout every game. For being one of the youngest teams in this tournament I am happy with how they played today and in the tournament with the exception of the Qatar game. So the question is who from this team continues to develop and makes it to the next stage in his career? For both club and country.

  7. Ecuador was a little better, but the US played pretty well. Occasionally they made some bad giveaways, but they also had some great one touch passing exchanges. Generally a high quality football game. Certainly better than the US vs. Jamaica friendly.

    • Keita was really bad again, and I thought Durkin was bad as well….just way too many turnovers in dangerous positions, but what really infuriated me was how nonchalant we were too many times(especially on Ecuador’s first goal)and also how cute we tried to be with the ball instead of making the easy plays! Oh well, teachable moments


Leave a Comment