The United States defeated New Zealand, 4-0, at the U-20 World Cup on Tuesday. It was their second win of the tournament, giving them a full six points and booking their trip to the knockout stage of the competition. The Americans outclassed the host country from start to finish, leaving no doubt to who deserved the three points.
U-20 MNT Starting XI vs NZ: Steffen, Payne, Miazga, Carter-Vickers, Acosta, Delgado, Hyndman (c), Zelalem, Arriola, Jamieson, Rubin.— U.S. Soccer YNT (@ussoccer_ynt) June 2, 2015
The USA were on the front foot from the opening whistle of the game and it took only six minutes for them to take the lead. A Cameron Carter-Vickers header hit the post and fell to Bradford Jamieson in the box. His right-footed shot was headed in when Rubio Rubin touched the ball over the line, taking the goal. Rubin may get the official goal, but Jamieson deserves the credit.
With the lead in hand, the U.S. never looked back. After piling on the pressure and forcing several saves, they found their second tally in the 33rd minute. Rubin latched on to a long ball, forcing the New Zealand keeper to push it towards the top of the box. With the keeper out of position, Emerson Hyndman finished off the loose ball with a first-time shot, giving him his second goal of the tournament.
The U.S. took a 2-0 lead into halftime, having dominated in possession and shots as well. They managed a total of 14 shots in the half alone and it took just 17 minutes of second half play for the them to find their third goal. Gedion Zelalem evaded five separate defenders before threading a ball in to Paul Arriola, who slotted a shot into the back of the net.
The final tally came in the 83rd minute when some shambolic defending by the Kiwis allowed Rubin to net his second of the game. A low cross from Desevio Payne deflected past two defenders to find Rubin waiting graciously in the six-yard box. The FC Utrecht man finished off the goal and a magnificent individual performance.
Everyone agreed coming into this tournament that this U-20 team had immense individual talent. The question was could they pull together and play as a team? This performance should alleviate those doubts.
- Gedion Zelalem is the real deal. He's worth the hype. He's worth the praise. The kid is a top quality soccer player. A fantastic performance from the youngster. Weaving in and out of traffic, keeping possession, threading passes all over the field. He did it all.
- Rubio Rubin worked his socks off all night and will go home with at least one (currently two, according to FIFA) goal for his efforts. His performance on the night shows why he's been capped three times by the senior USMNT.
- Desevio Payne started in place of Shaq Moore and he was a vast improvement at right back. His quality was apparent all night in attack and defending.
- Cameron Carter-Vickers is a manchild at the back. He had a dominant game against the helpless New Zealand attackers. He's one to keep an eye on, for sure.
- Bradford Jamieson's improvement since the CONCACAF Championships in January is astonishing. He struggled mightily with his first touch in Jamaica, but looks a completely different player since earning time with the LA Galaxy.
- Overall, it was a fantastic team performance without any noticeable weak spots among them.
- With six points the USA have clinched a spot in the knockout stage. They can win Group A with a draw in their last game against Ukraine.