Sebastian Soto’s Two Goals Tie Him for Second in Tournament’s Golden Boot Race;
Justin Rennicks’ Winning Goal in 83rd Minute Qualifies USA for Third Consecutive Quarterfinals;
USA Faces Ecuador on Saturday, June 8 at 11:30 a.m. ET on FS2 and Universo Family of Networks
BYDGOSZCZ, Poland (June 4, 2019)—In scorching temperatures and high humidity, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team shocked tournament favorite France with a 3-2 comeback victory at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup. A double from Sebastian Soto, who is now tied for second in the Golden Boot race with four goals, and a late game-winner from Justin Rennicks made the USA the only nation to have qualified for the last three U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals.
After battling France in 86 degree heat and 30-plus percent humidity, the U.S. will have three days to recuperate before tackling Ecuador in Saturday’s quarterfinal at 11:30 a.m. ET in Gdynia, Poland. The game will be broadcast on the FS2 and the Universo family of networks.
It was a well-played game, with not a single carded handed out by Brazilian referee Raphael Claus. Despite missing two important players in Alex Mendez and Chris Durkin due to yellow card suspensions, the U.S. started brightly with Tim Weah causing a turnover on edge of France’s penalty area in the 13th minute. Richie Ledezma, who was drafted into the starting line-up in place of Mendez corralled the loose ball and barley put his shot wide of the far left post.
Minutes later, Weah was at it again. After a long cross-field pass from captain Paxton Pomykal, Weah split two defenders and chipped the goalkeeper but was unable to catch the ball before a France defender recovered to clear it.
France then began to find its offense and carved out a pair of chances just after the 20-minute mark. The first forced U.S. goalkeeper Brady Scott into a low save, while the other was headed just over the bar.
As France continued to attack, the U.S. stifled their build-up and countered quickly as Ledezma carried the ball through midfield before splitting the France center backs with a pass for Soto to run on to. The USA’s leading scorer curled a shot around France goalkeeper Alban Lafont into the bottom right corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.
France then hit the base of the right post before breaking through in the 41st minute. A throw-in led to a France break out at midfield and Moussa Diaby fed Amine Gouiri, who finished over a charging Scott to tie matters 1-1 just before the half.
Ten minutes after the restart, Diaby rounded the corner of the U.S. defense and raced in on goal. He slid a shot under Scott that hit the post and rebounded into the center of the box where Nabil Alioui beat a sliding challenge from Sergino Dest to smash the ball into the net for the 2-1 lead.
U.S. head coach Tab Ramos, who has guided the U-20 MNT to successful results at the tournament since qualifying for the 2015 quarterfinals, turned to his bench to get the USA back in the game, bringing on two attacking subs in Ulysses Llanez and Rennicks in the 63rd minute.
The offensive switches began to pay off in the 74th when the USA worked the ball up the left touchline and inside to Llanez who centered for Weah at the top of the box. Weah picked out Soto just off the shoulder of the last defender and the striker powered the equalizer past Lafont.
With the match looking like it was headed to extra time, Pomykal won possession in midfield before the ball was worked to Weah, whose shot from distance was blocked by a defender. The rebound fell to Sergino Dest, who also ripped a shot from long range that forced Lafont into a diving save. He did not handle the shot cleanly, and the ball dropped near the left post for the crashing Rennicks to smash home the winning goal.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Sebastian Soto (Richie Ledezma), 25th minute: The U.S. broke a spell of French possession and quickly countered with Ledezma carrying the ball through midfield before splitting France’s center backs with a perfectly weighted ball for Soto. The U.S. forward took a touch to the left side of the box before curling a low shot into the far bottom corner. USA 1, FRA 0 [WATCH]
FRA – Amine Gouiri (Moussa Diaby), 41st minute: A France throw-in near midfield caught the U.S. napping and the speedy Diaby drove the ball at the heart of the USA defense before playing Gouiri into the box where he lifted a shot over U.S. goalkeeper Brady Scott. USA 1, FRA 1
FRA – Nabil Alioui, 55th minute: Diaby again menaced the U.S. defense, getting around the flank and in on goal where he poked a shot beneath Scott and off the right post. The rebound rolled into the middle of the box where Alioui beat a Sergino Dest challenge to the ball and fired into the roof of the net. USA 1, FRA 2
USA – Sebastian Soto (Tim Weah), 74th minute: A nice passage of play from the U.S. saw the ball advanced up the left sideline before Uly Llanez dribbled infield and passed to Weah at the top of the France box. As defenders closed in, Weah slipped the perfect pass to Soto on the last defender’s back shoulder and Soto once again finished with aplomb, smashing the ball past the goalkeeper for his fourth tally of the tournament. USA 2, FRA 2 [WATCH]
USA – Justin Rennicks, 83rd minute: The U.S. won the ball in midfield and worked it to Weah with a few passes. With a sight at goal, Weah tried a shot from 30 yards out that was blocked by a defender. The loose ball rolled to Dest, who also tried his luck from long range coming up the right wing. The driven shot forced a diving save from France goalkeeper Alban Lafont, but he did not push the ball to safety and Rennicks rushed in alone to smash the rebound into the back of the net for the game winner. USA 3, FRA 2 [WATCH] FINAL
- The USA advances to the Quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup for the third consecutive time in its 16th appearance at the tournament.
- The USA becomes the only nation to qualify for the quarterfinals of the last three FIFA U-20 World Cups.
- Sebastian Soto scored his third and fourth goals of the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup. He’s tied for second in the tournament Golden Boot race.
- Soto becomes the second USA player with multiple two goal games in one U-20 World Cup. Taylor Twellman bagged two braces at the 1999 tournament vs. Cameroon and Spain.
- All six of Soto’s U-20 goals have come in braces- today, in the group stage vs. Nigeria and in Sept. 2018 vs. Jamaica.
- Justin Rennicks becomes the third USA player to score in Poland. It’s his seventh U-20 goal.
- Richard Ledezma picked up his first U-20 assist on Soto’s first goal in his first World Cup start.
- Tim Weah’s assist on Soto’s second goal was his second of the tournament.
- Head coach Tab Ramos made four changes from the line-up that secured the USA’s knockout round berth with a 1-0 win vs. Qatar.
- Chris Durkin and Alex Mendez were not available for the match after picking up their second yellow cards against Qatar.
- U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team vs. France
Date: June 4, 2019
Competition: 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup; Round of 16
Venue: Bydgoszcz Stadium; Bydgoszcz, Poland
Kickoff: 11:30 a.m. ET (5:30 p.m. local time)
Weather: 86 degrees; sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
FRA 1 1 2
USA- Sebastian Soto (Richard Ledezma) 24th minute
FRA- Amine Gouiri (Moussa Diaby) 40
FRA- Nabil Alioui 54
USA- Sebastian Soto (Timothy Weah) 73
USA- Justin Rennicks 83
USA: 1-Brady Scott; 2-Sergiño Dest, 3-Chris Gloster, 5-Chris Richards, 9-Sebastian Soto, 10-Paxton Pomykal (capt.), 11-Tim Weah, 13-Aboubacar Keita, 16-Brandon Servania, 17-Konrad De La Fuente (18-Ulysses Llanez, 63), 20-Richy Ledezma (19-Justin Rennicks, 63)
Substitutes not used: 12-David Ochoa, 21-CJ Dos Santos, 4-Mark McKenzie, 7-Julian Araujo, 14-Edwin Cerrillo, 15-Matthew Real
Unavailable: 6-Chris Durkin, 8-Alex Mendez
Head Coach: Tab Ramos
FRA: 1-Alban Lafont; 3-Evan Ndicka, 4-Boubacar Kamara, 5-Dan Zagadou (capt.), 6-Enzo Loiodice (14-Ibrahima Diallo, 79), 8-Michael Cuisance, 9-Amine Gouiri, 10-Moussa Diaby, 11-Nabil Alioui (17-Lenny Pintor, 64), 15-Thomas Basila, 18-Youssouf Fofana (7-Yacine Adli, 86)
Substitutes not used: 16-Illan Meslier, 21-Didier Desprez, 2-Jean-Clair Todibo, 12-Sambou Sissoko, 13-Nicolas Cozza, 19-Moussa Sylla, 20-Boubakary Soumare
Head coach: Bernard Diomede
Stats Summary: USA / FRA
Shots: 7 / 15
Shots on Goal: 4 / 5
Saves: 4 / 1
Corner Kicks: 2 / 6
Fouls: 12 / 10
Offside: 0 / 0
Referee: Raphael Claus (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Danilo Simon (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Bruno Pires (BRA)
4th Official: Fernando Rapallini (ARG)