MENDOZA, Argentina (May 30, 2023) - The U.S. Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team advanced to the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup following a 4-0 victory against New Zealand in the Round of 16. Forward Owen Wolff opened the scoring in the 15th minute and the U.S. kept the pressure on the Junior All Whites all afternoon as forward Cade Cowell added his team-leading third tally in the 61st, defender Justin Che polished off a rebound from midfielder Diego Luna in the 75th and midfielder Rokas Pukstas added an exclamation point in the 82nd. The U.S. outpossessed and outshot the Junior All Whites 22-3 on the day.
With the win, the U.S. advances to the U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals for the fourth-straight tournament. Already the only nation to reach the quarters in the last three editions, the USA is once again in the final eight of the tournament. It’s also the only nation to not concede a goal thus far at this year’s U-20 World Cup.
Kiwi midfielder Jay Herdman had the game’s first real chance in the fifth minute, forcing goalkeeper Gaga Slonina to make a diving save. Another attempt from Herdman went wide in the 12th minute.
The U.S. responded with its earliest goal of the tournament thus far. Working the ball around beyond the top of the box, it eventually fell to Wolff who tucked a rolling shot from just outside the arc to the post past the outstretched reach of goalkeeper Kees Sims.
The young Americans continued to push after the goal with a number of dangerous attacking runs. In the 20th, left wingback Caleb Wiley drove into the box and saw his cross deflected off a New Zealand defender’s head and ping off the post. Just after the half hour mark, Wolff sparked another set of chances, ripping a long-range effort in the 33rd and slipping past the defense to set up a shot for midfielder Jack McGlynn that went inches over the bar in the 34th. Another attempt rolled just wide in the 39th.
The U.S. nearly had its second just before the break in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time. Midfielder Daniel Edleman took a hit from outside the box that was saved by the Kiwi ‘keeper, and in the aftermath McGlynn played a lovely ball in from the top of the box to Wolff charging towards goal, but his volley attempt went just over the bar.
Things picked up where they left off in the second half with several threatening looks. Wiley was a spark from the left wing back spot, cutting into the box from the flank to set up Jonathan Gomez for a shot that went wide in the 50th and crossing to Edelman in the 52nd for an effort that went over the crossbar.
New Zealand forced goalkeeper Gaga Slonina into action again in the 56th as Benjamin Wallace drove down the right wing and sent a ball into the box, but it was swallowed up in the scrum by the Chelsea netminder.
McGlynn, whose passing shone all afternoon, teed up a prime chance for Cowell in the 59th after driving the ball downfield. He played to Cowell on the left wing, but the forward cut it back and the ensuing chance went off target.
The San Jose Earthquakes forward made up for the missed opportunity a few minutes later. On the run downfield, Luna found Cowell near the arc and took a touch before slotting home his third goal of the tournament in three games. Cowell is currently tied with four other players for second on the tournament scoring chart.
Cowell and Luna combined again to create the game’s third goal in the 75th. Luna rubbed past a defender and broke free driving down the middle of the field before finding Cowell on the run. He rounded the goalkeeper and cut it back for Luna for a close-range shot, and while Sims stopped the initial attempt, Che hammered home the rebound for his first U-20 goal.
The game’s final goal came from one of the USA’s two World Cup debutants. Midfielder Rokas Pukstas and forward Kevin Paredes joined the U-20 MYNT in Argentina following the group stage and both entered as second-half substitutes. In the 82nd minute, Pukstas came flying into the box to head home defender Brandan Craig’s free kick deep in Kiwi territory for the game’s final goal.
- Owen Wolff netted his second U-20 goal in his seventh U-20 cap, Cade Cowell’s goal was his fifth in 10 caps and Justin Che’s was his first in nine U-20 international appearances.
- Goalkeeper Gaga Slonina and defender Brandan Craig have played all 360 minutes for the USA thus far in Argentina.
- Five players have scored for the U.S. in Argentina: Cowell (three goals), defenders Che, Jonathan Gómez and Caleb Wiley plus midfielders Diego Luna and Niko Tsakiris.
- Three players have logged assists: Luna (three), Brandan Craig, Quinn Sullivan and Wolff.
-U.S. UNDER-20 MEN’S YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT-
Match: United States Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team vs. New Zealand
Date: May 30, 2023
Competition: 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup – Round of 16
Venue: Estadio Malvinas Argentinas; Mendoza, Argentina
Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. local)
Weather: 60 degrees, some clouds
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 3 4
NZL 0 0 0
USA – Owen Wolff (Diego Luna) 14th minute
USA – Cade Cowell (Diego Luna) 61
USA – Justin Che 75
USA – Rokas Pukstas (Brandan Craig) 82
USA: 1-Gaga Slonina; 17-Justin Che, 5-Brandan Craig, 4-Josh Wynder; 13-Jonathan Gómez, 8-Jack McGlynn (18-Obed Vargas, 71), 6-Daniel Edelman (Capt.), 3-Caleb Wiley (2-Michael Halliday, 71); 16-Owen Wolff (20-Rokas Pukstas, 79), 10-Diego Luna (15-Niko Tsakiris, 79), 9-Cade Cowell (11-Kevin Paredes, 83)
Substitutes not used: 12-Antonio Carrera, 21-Alex Borto, 7-Quinn Sullivan, 14-Marcus Ferkranus, 19-Darren Yapi
Head coach: Mikey Varas
NZL: 1-Kees Sims; 4-Isaac Hughes, 5-Finn Surman (Capt.), 6-Fin Conchie, 9-Oliver Colloty (19-Kian Donkers, 81), 10-Jay Herdman, 11-Norman Garbett, 14-Finn Linder (15-Aaryan Raj, 50), 16-Dan McKay (7-Noah Karunaratne, 66), 18-Benjamin Wallace (17-Oliver Han, 80), 20-Lukas Kelly-Heald
Substitutes not used: 13-Henry Gray, 21-Albert Kelly-Heald, 2-Jackson Jarvie, 3-Adam Supyk, 8-Jackson Manuel, 12-Everton O’Leary
Head coach: Darren Bazeley
Stats Summary: USA / NZL
Shots on Goal: 8/1
Corner Kicks: 7/4
Referee: Mohamed Marouf (EGY)
Assistant Referee 1: Zakaria Brinsi (MAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Abbes Akram Zerhouni (ALG)
Fourth Official: Donatas Rumsas (LTU)
VAR: Aleandro Di Paolo (ITA)
AVAR 1: Luis Miguel Branco (POR)