USA reach U-20 World Cup quarterfinals with New Zealand rout

USA U-20s highlight 5.30.23

The United States have reached a fourth straight quarterfinal at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, accomplishing that Tuesday afternoon with a 4-0 rout of New Zealand to maintain their perfect record at the tournament’s 2023 edition in Argentina.

Head coach Mikey Varas’ team, which topped Group B and is yet to concede through the Round of 16, will face either Uruguay or Gambia on Sunday, June 4 in the quarterfinals. That to-be-determined opponent will be known by Thursday afternoon.

The US U-20s surged into a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute when Austin FC midfielder Owen Wolff laced home a grass-cutter from distance, beating New Zealand goalkeeper Kees Sims to the far post. That was just a preview, as the floodgates opened in the second half.

San Jose Earthquakes forward Cade Cowell (61’) struck a left-footed shot to the far post, FC Dallas defender Justin Che (75’) cleaned up a clinical counterattack on the goalmouth, and Philadelphia Union defender Brandan Craig sent in a perfect free kick that former Sporting Kansas City academy midfielder Rokas Pukštas (82’) headed home at the far post.

The US got a scare in second-half stoppage time when goalkeeper Gaga Slonina took a slight knock. But the Chelsea shot-stopper and Chicago Fire FC homegrown played until full-time, capping a game where he made a sterling 11th-minute stop on midfielder Jay Herdman, who competes in MLS NEXT Pro with Whitecaps 2 and is the son of Canada men’s national team head coach John Herdman.


  • 14' - USA - Owen Wolff | WATCH
  • 61' - USA - Cade Cowell | WATCH
  • 75' - USA - Justin Che | WATCH
  • 82' - USA - Rokas Pukštas | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: After beating Ecuador, Fiji and Slovakia in the group stage, the US put in their best performance of the U-20 World Cup. They'll be surging with confidence after resoundingly beating New Zealand and have flexed impressive depth and tactical flexibility. How far can this U-20 group go with a bevy of first-team regulars and MLS homegrowns?
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Real Salt Lake's Diego Luna led a fantastic counter-attack midway through the second half, putting the game to bed.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Cowell got his third goal of the U-20 World Cup and was a constant threat to New Zealand's backline. The Earthquakes' homegrown is having a fantastic tournament and surely generating some transfer buzz.

Next Up

  • USA: June 4 vs. To be determined | U-20 World Cup quarterfinals
  • NZL: End of tournament