U.S. Qualifies for U-20 World Cup
- Updated: January 24, 2015
The U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team got off to a rough start in the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship drawing 1-1 with Guatemala and falling 1-0 to Panama, but a four game winning streak, culminating with a 2-0 playoff with over El Salvador on Saturday, guaranteed the U.S. a spot in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Ben Spencer and Paul Arriola struck on either side of halftime in the match at Montego Bay, Jamaica, to give the U.S. a spot in the U-20 World Cup for the second straight time.
After going winless in their first two matches to fall near the bottom of Group A, the U.S. rattled off three straight wins by a combined score of 11-0 to take second place in the group. The run wasn’t enough to give the U.S. a spot in the championship, but did qualify them for the play-offs and Saturday’s play-off win over El Salvador propelled them to the U-20 World Cup.
The U.S. came close just over a minute into the match when Spencer flicked a long ball to San Jose Earthquakes’ midfielder Tommy Thompson in the box. Thompson, one-on-one with the ‘keeper, fired just wide of the far post from a tight angle.
Spencer would put the U.S. ahead in the 37th minute after winning a header off a long free kick. Spencer’s effort hit off the crossbar, but he was there for his own rebound and headed it into the empty net.
U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen came up huge in the 52nd minute denying Jose Villavicencio on a penalty kick with an impressive diving save to his right, preserving the 1-0 lead.
The U.S. doubled their lead in the 68th minute through Arriola. Bradford Jamieson IV’s shot was blocked, but the rebound fell to Arriola, who snuck a shot through a crowded box to make it 2-0.
Things got worse for El Salvador in the 79th minute when Andres Flores was issued a straight red card.
The U.S. would hold on from there to assure a place at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, which kicks off May 30. West Haven, Conn. native Tyler Turner was on the U.S. roster, but did not see time in the match.