Spain Crush U.S. in U-20 World Cup Opener

The U.S. U-20 National Team opened their 2013 U-20 World Cup campaign with a 4-1 loss to Spain in Istanbul, Turkey on Friday. Gerard Deulofeu and Jesé Rodríguez each scored twice as Spain built a four goal lead before Luis Gil scored a late consolation goal.

The loss leaves the U.S. (0-1-0, 0 points) at the bottom of Group A behind Spain (1-0-0, 3 points), France (1-0-0, 3 points), and Ghana (0-1-0, 0 points) after France beat Ghana 3-1 earlier in the day.

Spain grabbed the lead in just the fifth minute when Barcelona’s Deulofeu got behind the defense off of a long ball. Deulofeu dribbled to the endline than sent a cross to Real Madrid’s promising youngster Jesé, who volleyed it past U.S. ‘keeper Cody Cropper, putting Spain up 1-0.

The U.S. nearly found the equalizer in the 13th minute when Real Salt Lake’s Luis Gill played Alonso Hernández, who plays his club soccer with Mexico’s Monterrey, behind the defense. Alonso ran in on goal, but sent a low shot just wide of the far post.

A minute later Los Angeles Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal put a header on frame off a U.S. free kick from Columbus Crew’s Wil Trapp, but his effort was well saved by Spain ‘keeper Daniel Sotres.

The Spaniards had two chances just before the 30th minute to add to their lead. First Deulofeu set up Jesé for another close range chance, but the striker sent his effort wide. Shortly after Deulofeu had a shot of his own after getting behind the defense, but it was well saved by Cropper.

Cropper came up big again in the 33rd minute after Atletico Madrid defender Javier Manquillo  got forward on the right flank for Spain and cut inside at the top of the box before sending a low shot to the far post. Cropper quickly dove to his right to make the save.

Despite the scoreline and chances, the U.S. were seemingly in the midst of positive first half performance against a quality Spain side known for the dominating possession. The Americans even were leading the possession battle with 51%, 35 minutes into the match.

But Spain would get on the scoresheet again in the 42nd minute when Deulofeu created something out of nothing, curling an incredible shot into the upper corner from outside the box to make it 2-0.

Jesé would then score his second of the night to make it 3-0 just two minutes later. Manquillo broke into the box and despite heavy defensive pressure was able to slot it back to Jesé who hammered it past Cropper to make it 3-0.

Spain would put the game out of reach in the 61st minute when Deulofeu got behind the U.S. defense off a long through ball, dribbled around Cropper and slotted it into the empty net, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Gil put the U.S. on the board with a spectacular strike from outside the box in the 77th minute, but it was too little, too late for the Americans.

The U.S. returns to action on Monday, June 24, with a match against France at 11 a.m. ET on ESPN2.

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue