The US Under-20 national team made a dramatic comeback to salvage a 3-3 tie in their Group F opener against Ecuador at the 2017 Under-20 FIFA World Cup in Incheon, South Korea on Monday.
Luca de la Torre scored a stoppage-time equalizer for the Americans in the final minute of play, securing a 3-3 draw in a match that saw the USA go down 2-0 after just seven minutes. Two goals by Josh Sargent drew the USA level, only for an error by goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann to gift the Ecuadoreans a third goal which required the late-game heroics.
In a chaotic, high-pressure, end-to-end match during which neither side could develop much sustained possession, Ecuador twice sliced through the US defense to claim a surprise 2-0 advantage inside seven minutes.
To make matters worse for the Americans, US playmaker Gedion Zelalem was forced to come out of the game due to injury in the 34th minute. He was replaced by Philadelphia Union midfielder Derrick Jones, who started both plays which led to the USA’s first two goals, both finished by the 17-year-old Sargent.
Real Salt Lake winger Brooks Lennon, one of 10 MLS players and academy products to feature in the match, proved to be the USA’s top playmaker from the right side and he was responsible for delivering a pinpoint cross in the box for Sargent’s second goal, a 54th-minute header which tied the match at 2-2.
Klinsmann, son of former US national team boss Jurgen Klinsmann who was in attendance at Incheon Stadium, preserved the momentary draw just three minutes later with a big 1-on-1 stop off his line. But Klinsmann was then caught dribbling in his own area in the 64th minute, succumbing to pressure and coughing up the ball to Ecuador’s Bryan Cabezas, who restored Ecuador’s advantage at 3-2.
US head coach Tab Ramos introduced Atlanta United academy winger Lagos Kunga and Real Salt Lake creative mid Sebastian Saucedo in search of a final spark, which would ultimately come from Lennon once again in the 94th minute. His cross into the box was redirected to de La Torre who calmly slotted home on the final play of the match to give the USA their first point of the group stage.
The USA return to Group F action on May 25 against Senegal on FS1 at 7 am ET.
ECU – 5’ Lino
ECU – 7’ Cabezas
USA – 36’ Sargent
USA – 54’ Sargent
ECU – 64’ Cabezas
USA – 94’+ DeLaTorre
USA lineup (4-3-3, left to right): #1 Jonathan Klinsmann — #3 Danny Acosta, #5 Erik Palmer-Brown, #4 Tommy Redding (85’ #11 Sebastian Saucedo), #14 Aaron Herrera — #7 Eryk Williamson (72’ #13 Lagos Kunga), #10 Gedion Zelalem (34’ #18 Derrick Jones), #8 Tyler Adams — #20 Luca De La Torre, #19 Josh Sargent, #17 Brooks Lennon
Ecuador lineup (4-4-2, left to right): #1 Jose Cevallos - #6 Pervis Estupinan, #20 Luis Segovia, #18 Felix Torres, #4 Kevin Minda — #10 Bryan Cabezas, #16 Jhonny Quinonez (89’ #14 Renny Jaramillo), #15 Jordan Sierra, Wilter Ayovi (57' #17 Joao Rojas) — #9 Herlin Lino, #7 Washington Corozo (77' #19 Jordy Caicedo)