The US Under-20 national team battled valiantly, taking Venezuela to extra time, but they were ultimately eliminated from the 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup by a narrow 2-1 score line in a quarterfinal played at Jeonju, South Korea on Sunday.
Venezuela, who are captained by New York City FC midfielder Yangel Herrera, advance to face Uruguay in the semifinals (Thursday at 1:50 am ET on FS1). It's the nation's first semifinal appearance at a FIFA tournament at any level.
Although the South Americans dominated large portions of the match, the USA had a chance to win the match on the final play of regulation when captain Erik Palmer-Brown couldn't direct a header on target from six yards out with the goal at his mercy.
In extra time, it was a misdirected clearance by Palmer-Brown which led to Venezuela's opener as a cross from the left side was converted by Adalberto Penaranda with a one-touch finish. Then a corner-kick header goal 10 minutes later by center back Nahuel Ferraresi gave the Venezuelans the cushion they would need to hold off a comeback attempt by the USA. The Americans became the first team to score against Venezuela in the tournament when Portland Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse floated a header inside the far post with three minutes remaining in the extra period.
Venezuela dominated the match from the opening minute with strong, powerful and dynamic play. They peppered the USA with several quality chances, two of which were denied by early saves from US goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann inside the opening 15 minutes.
The South Americans thought they had their opening goal in the 20th minute when the Americans cleared a Venezuelan corner kick only for the follow-up shot into the US penalty area to make its way to Sergio Cordova, who turned and scored. However, after the celebrations had died down, the goal was called back by the referee following video assistant referee review which showed Cordova was marginally offside on the original shot into the box.
The Venezuelan pressure was incessant after the break as the Vinotinto struck the crossbar twice on two headers in the 48th minute (by Ronaldo Chacon) and again in the 63rd minute (by Sergio Cordova). When it wasn’t the woodwork, Klinsmann came through once more with another two big saves in the span of five second-half minutes to deny Cordova and Chacon.
The USA's shift to a 4-4-2 with the introduction of Ebobisse six minutes into the second half gave Tab Ramos' side a little more breathing room, but Venezuela were still the side most likely to score.
After the USA’s Eryk Williamson came out of nowhere to make a miraculous 88th-minute sliding block and prevent a late Penaranda winner, the USA produced their two best looks at goal in regulation. First, Williamson had a wide open shot from the top of the box that he lofted high of the mark and then Sporting Kansas City defender Palmer-Brown couldn't find a way to nod the ball into the empty net on his chance.
The Americans would be punished for the late misses in extra time, suffering quarterfinal elimination for the second straight tournament. In 2015 the US U-20s fell to eventual champions Serbia in a penalty-kick shootout.
VEN – 96’ Penaranda (Sosa)
VEN - 115' Ferraresi (Lucena)
USA - 117' Ebobisse (Lennon)
USA lineup (4-2-3-1, left to right): #1 Jonathan Klinsmann — #3 Danny Acosta (120' #2 Auston Trusty), #5 Erik Palmer-Brown, #16 Cameron Carter-Vickers, #6 Justen Glad — #7 Eryk Williamson (112’ #9 Emmanuel Sabbi), #18 Derrick Jones — #20 Luca de la Torre, #8 Tyler Adams (51’ #15 Jeremy Ebobisse), #17 Brooks Lennon — #19 Josh Sargent (83’ #13 Lagos Kunga)
Venezuela lineup (4-4-2, left to right): #1 Wuilker Farinez — #5 Jose Hernandez, #2 Williams Velasquez, #4 Nahuel Ferraresi, #20 Ronald Hernandez — #7 Adalberto Penaranda (113’ #18 Luis Ruiz), #16 Ronaldo Lucena, #8 Yangel Herrera, #19 Sergio Cordova (119' #17 Josua Mejias) — #11 Ronaldo Chacon, #9 Ronaldo Pena (76’ #15 Samuel Sosa)