The USA U-20's began their much anticipated U-20 World Cup with a 2-1 win over Myanmar. Many expected the U.S. to run over the underdogs with ease, but they put up a stellar performance both technically and skillful. After settling into the game, the Americans dominated possession and did just enough to come away with a win.
U-20 MNT Starting XI vs MYA: Steffen, Moore, Miazga, Carter-Vickers, Acosta, Delgado, Allen, Soñora, Hyndman (c), Rubin, Tall. #1N1T— U.S. Soccer YNT (@ussoccer_ynt) May 30, 2015
Both teams came out with nerves, which is to be expected on such a big stage. Myanmar started the scoring in the 9th minute after USA goalkeeper Zack Steffen fumbled a cross allowing Yan Naing Oo to pounce on the loose ball and slam it in the net. The Asian Football Confederation representative has very little international soccer pedigree, but showed an unexpected confidence on the ball.
It took the USA a quarter of an hour to finally find their legs and get into the match. Maki Tall equalized in the 18th minute after Cameron Carter-Vickers' glancing header found the striker open at the back post. They continued to control the game from then on, heading into halftime level.
After Kellyn Acosta wasted a glorious chance to give the USA the lead, they found the go-ahead goal just a few minutes later. Rubio Rubin found himself in space with a chance to counter in the 56th minute. His patience on the break allowed him to find Emerson Hyndman streaking into the box. The American captain calmly took a touch and finished confidently past the Myanmar goalkeeper.
The USA had several chances to finish the game off, but couldn't capitalize. Myanmar pushed forward late in an attempt to equalize but the defense held strong. It wasn't as easy as most thought, however three points in an opening game at the World Cup is all that you can ask for.
- Myanmar's collective technical ability was very impressive. Their quickness and sharp touches made it difficult for the U.S. early on.
- Maki Tall's first touch is quality and he's willing to take on defenders 1 v 1. He was the most dangerous American attacker in his 49 minutes on the field.
- Rubin didn't score, but he did have an assist and probably could have had two more with better finishing. He's clearly one of the most talented players on the roster.
- Gedion Zelalem entered the game with a half hour to play. For most of us it was the first extended action we've seen of him. As advertised, he's calm and confident on the ball with the ability to pick out a precise pass. His lack of physical strength was noticeable at times.
- Steffen will be cursing himself for his early error, but otherwise he looks confident and commanding of his box. We'll mark down his mistake as early nerves.
- Acosta got a surprising start at left back. He looked shaky at times, but was a calming influence late in the game.
- The center defensive pairing of Miazga and Carter-Vickers towered over the Myanmar players, almost to their disadvantage. The referee unfairly penalized both for being so much bigger and stronger than the opposing attackers.
- Joel Sonora got manhandled in the midfield losing possession multiple times and getting thrown to the ground any time he got near a defender. Zelalem replacing him was a noticeable difference.
- Shaq Moore lacks the technical side of the game, but put in a solid defensive shift with key interceptions in crucial areas of the field.
- Overall it was an average performance from a team expected to win. There's much room for improvement, but the individual talent is there.
- With New Zealand and Ukraine drawing earlier in the day, the USA's win puts them at the top of Group A.