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USMNT U-20’s roll past Cuba to win Group E


The U.S. Under-20 men’s national team needed three points on Wednesday to top Group E at the Concacaf U-20 Championship and thanks to a first-half hat trick from Quinn Sullivan, Mikey Varas’ side finished group stage play on top.

Sullivan’s first-career international hat trick in competitive action propelled the USMNT U-20’s to a 3-0 victory over Cuba at the Estadio Nacional Chelato Ucles on Wednesday night. The result moved the Americans to first place in Group E and clinches them a Round of 16 showdown with Nicaragua on Saturday.

Sullivan retained his spot in Mikey Varas’ starting lineup and didn’t waste any time in making an impact. The 18-year-old broke the deadlock in the second minute, getting on the end of a cross from Caden Clark at the back post.

The USMNT U-20’s kept their foot on the gas early and capitalized on another counter attack to double their lead. Alejandro Alvarado played in Sullivan towards goal, allowing the Philadelphia Union forward to smash a right-footed shot into the top-left corner.

Sullivan capped off his hat trick in the 42nd minute after racing onto an over-the-top ball from Paxten Aaronson and sliding a low shot past Ismel Morgado. It was Sullivan’s first international hat trick in a competitive tournament.

Chris Brady was called into action twice in the match for the USMNT U-20’s, with his best effort coming in the 59th minute to deny Ronaldo Noda. The Chicago Fire goalkeeper rebounded from Monday’s performance by posting his first competitive clean sheet for the USMNT U-20’s.

Varas was able to rest several players in the match, with Sullivan, Aaronson, and Mauricio Cuevas all being substituted off at halftime. Defender Marcus Ferkranus and midfielder Daniel Edelman were unused subs in the match.

The Americans held on for the shutout victory, ending group stage play with a 2-0-1 record.


  1. good that they won the group. in terms of what matters as much as prestige — qualifying — the bracket that is now filling out seems friendly for at least semi advancement ie U20 worlds qualifying. at that point the bracket will likely send our way honduras, which will be a tough test. they will have to win that game to get us the olympics. my concern with the canada result was whether it put in question if we could get something off cuba to win the group, and i have some concern about whether we can maintain historic quality levels, make the final, and secure the olympics. in terms of recent U20 teams, little doubt. in terms of this bunch, we’ll see. and that disparity says something, to me. my basic point is if we make this display of changing how our soccer is played the results should improve and not get worse. tactics are a tool to a result and not some aesthetic end in themselves. if the result doesn’t follow then we need to get more direct again.

    • IV: Your recounting of qualifying history is inaccurate. Over the last six tournaments there is always moments of doubt even in 2018. Your taking the last tournament and claiming that one event as our “historical level”. In the last six events we’ve lost in the group stage 3 times. The 2015 and 2017 teams didn’t win their groups yet still reached quarterfinals of U20 WC.
      2018- matches past a group of minnows (none of which could have beaten this years Cuba or Canada). We neede wins against CR and Honduras just as we will this year. Less in doubt since it was at home and stars Dest, Richards, and Soto were released by their clubs.
      2017- finished 2nd in group to Panama. Had to defeat group winners Mexico and El Salvador (who had won their group over host Costa Rica) there was much worry going into the qualification stage that year.
      2015- finished T-2nd with Guatemala behind Panam again. Had to win 1 off against El Salvador, might seem a given except we’d lost to Panama and tied Guatemala so nothing was assured.
      2013- won all four matches in route to final loss to Mexico but did trail early to Canada 1-0 after 23 minutes.
      2011-lost to Guatemala in quarterfinals
      2009- drew with Honduras in group stage, a 90th minute goal by ES drew with Honduras. If that last gasp goal isn’t scored the US would have lost the group on GD. Also needs penalties to defeat TnT but qualification was secured at that point.
      We don’t remember these close shaves because a lot of these weren’t even broadcasted and we just remember we made but don’t know how.

  2. Philly needs to get both Aaronson and Sullivan on the field more. Philly also need to utilize Sullivan as more of an attacker.

    • Qazdag has been so good so their minutes at the 9 haven’t been there and then since Curtin uses a 4-4-2 Diamond the only other spot for either of them
      is striker. Once this tournament is over and we get some more mid-week games I think Jim will rotate more.

      • What’s going on with Philly’s academy lately? I thought FC Dallas was the gold standard but it surely does look like Philly’s lapping even Dallas right now when it comes to pumping out the young prospects. They’re basically turning into Ajax By The River.

      • Of course Sealy, Jonathan Gomez and Pepi advanced so much quicker that they weren’t available. US is lucky if Union had played hard ball and not released their 4 players.

      • you are spouting nonsense to prop up a prefabricated narrative, generally reading what you want to believe into the absence of evidence. sociedad’s camp doesn’t start for 2 weeks. i doubt they told him no. for that matter, gomez has appeared for mexico U20, and has accepted senior calls for both US and mexico, the latter as recent as 2 months ago. an isolated senior cap is NOT graduation from age group ball, not at one cap. it’s fair enough to say pepi and some others “graduated.” but slonina is likely out pending a transfer — not because he’s a real senior player now — and we may have played GB’s passive game on gomez, who may have said no to preserve his options. i suspect if we go down the list it’d be a mix of laziness, agents’ games, dual nationals keeping their options open, and kids wanting to be in bubble wrap until a transfer. not the same as literally being told “no,” and i kind of doubt that teams who just released senior players for weeks would refused junior calls during the same offseason breaktime. i do think there might be “an” isolated MLS team like atlanta last time that throws its own little fit and refuses as in-season. but MLS is generally cooperative even with first team players. and i was gonna say on the ones making a decision as opposed to being told now, that there might be more room with them for negotiation and light nudging. you could dangle that certain senior team slots are unresolved and this could be a showcase. or that a good showing in this tournament would lead to a preferential look in post-qatar senior friendlies. if the team is nervous you could make a deal on how many minutes you play. i kind of doubt we are getting the firm “nos” you suggest all over the place as you claim, at which point it gets more negotiable and there is room for sales and aggression. i kind of think you’re wanting to promote a narrative where player availability isn’t USSF’s fault rather than a lack of aggression and creativity by the wet behind the ears new U20 coach and GB.

      • IV: quotes from Varas “At the end of the day the release situation is really challenging” “We have players that have opportunities with their clubs that the clubs felt they couldn’t release the players.” “We have players who weren’t released, for example, the club was going to release them and it came down to a circumstance or injury in the first team that made it impossible for them.” In terms of players that can play multiple positions “so that became a really, really important factor for us when we started working with the puzzle pieces that were given to us in terms of the release process.” I could find no evidence anywhere of Varas or anyone associated with US Soccer saying a player was released but not called so they could train with their club. There are multiple podcasts and YouTube channels that discuss the players who were not released. Multiple players were called in March for the Argentina trip and then did not appear on the final roster. Their club situations did not change drastically between March and May. If you weren’t going to bring say Che or Sealy so “they could improve their club situation” you wouldn’t have brought them to the final tuneups.

      • Q: I also forgot Che from this age group so FCD vs Union
        FCD: Che, Pepi, Sealy, Gomez, Carrera
        Union: McGlynn, Sullivan, Craig, Aaronson
        Certainly close, LAG still supplying a lot of course (Ferkranus, Neal, and Cuevas before going to Belgium) but also Luna and Clark both Barca kids.

  3. Put this one away early. It gets a lot easier when you convert your first two chances. Alvarado, Sullivan, Pax, and Clark were good in first half. Second half was basically let’s run out the clock. Tsakiris, I thought wasn’t the best tonight. Bring on Nicaragua!


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