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USA on course for the Under 20 World Cup

By Marc Serber



US supporters cheer their team before the start of their Brazil-2014 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF football qualifier against the Honduras at Olimpico Metropolitano stadium in San Pedro Sula, 240 km north of Tegucigalpa, on February 6, 2013
US supporters cheer their team before the start of their Brazil-2014 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF football qualifier against the Honduras at Olimpico Metropolitano stadium in San Pedro Sula, 240 km north of Tegucigalpa, on February 6, 2013

The USA defeated Costa Rica 1-0 in Group A of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship

The USA is just one win away from the Under 20 World Cup after defeating Costa Rica 1-0 in the CONCACAF Under 20 Championships.

Jose Villarreal’s 63rd minute header from Luis Gil’s looping corner means the USA tops Group A and will play either Canada or Nicaragua in Tuesday’s quarterfinal. 

All four semifinalists will advance to the World Cup in Turkey this summer.

The Yanks dominated the first half with the majority of possession. Unlike the match with Haiti, Costa Rica was applying very low pressure which allowed the US players to show their vision and ability to pick out the right pass.

Gil in particular was running the show in midfield, linking up well with Villarreal up top. The only problem was that the US weren’t getting enough players forward to join them in the box. 

Even when there were numbers forward, the final balls in were not good enough, often too close to Costa Rican keeper Jairo Monge. 

On the other side of the ball, Costa Rica was very direct. The Ticos looked to get the ball to their forwards right away but the US backline stifled them at every opportunity. 

When Costa Rica did find a way through, they ran into a very assured keeper in Cody Cropper. The Southampton man handled everything with ease. 

The Ticos were poor in the first half. Their intensity low and their approach too nonchalant. It was never going to be the same in the final 45. 

As the sun went down and the temperature dropped, the Ticos became faster, pressured higher and grew in confidence on the ball.

A renewed sense of urgency from the Central Americans did not throw the US off their game, but rather caused them to alter it by moving the ball faster and making quicker decisions.

The US responded, earning a succession of corners from which the Red White and Blue opened the scoring. Villarreal was left unmarked in the 63rd minute, but still hung well in the air to snap home the game’s only goal. 

Costa Rica surged forward looking for an equalizer, but other than Giovanni Cantillano striking the crossbar, the US saw out the final half an hour with minimum fuss. 

The US is now just 90 minutes away from Turkey and erasing the still very raw memories of missing out on the tournament in Colombia two years ago.