The US Under-20 national team finished in 2nd place in Group A at the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup after getting blanked 3-0 by Ukraine on Friday in their group finale in Auckland.
With a chance to finish in first place with a win or a tie, the USA succumbed to a hat trick by attacking midfielder Viktor Kovalenko as the Shakhtar Donetsk product scored all three goals in the second half. Kovalenko closed out the group stage atop the tournament scoring charts with five total goals.
After a lackluster first half finished scoreless, Kovalenko put the Ukrainians ahead on a picture-perfect set-piece strike in the 56th minute that curled over the US wall and inside the left post defended by US 'keeper Zack Steffen.
Just three minutes later the USA had a golden opportunity to equalize after a penalty kick was awarded for what replays showed was a dubious foul whistled in the box on Real Salt Lake winger Jordan Allen. Captain Emerson Hyndman's penalty attempt, however, was parried away by Ukraine 'keeper Bogdan Sarnavskyi.
The European side then proceeded to seal the match on two deadly transitions in the span of six minutes that both ended with clinical one-time finishes from Kovalenko. In the 74th minute, left back Eduard Sobol made a darting run to the end line and cut back the ball to the penalty spot, where Kovalenko angled the ball inside the far post.
Kovalenko secured his hat trick in the 79th minute, using a one-touch finish in the penalty area to redirect a central through ball into the low right corner.
With the result, the USA will now have to travel to Wellington for a Round of 16 match on June 10 against the 2nd-place finisher from Group C -- Portugal, Colombia or Senegal. Group A winners Ukraine stay in Auckland to face a third-place finisher yet to be determined.
USA Lineup (4-3-3, right to left): Zack Steffen -- Shaq Moore, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Erik Palmer-Brown, Kellyn Acosta -- Marky Delgado (60' Joel Soñora), Emerson Hyndman (84' Conor Donovan), Gedion Zelalem -- Jordan Allen (66' Rubio Rubin), Paul Arriola, Bradford Jamieson IV