Despite putting in a less than desirable performance in their World Cup group-stage closer, the US Under-20 national team eventually secured second place with a late 1-0 winner against underdogs Qatar.
The Baby Nats had trouble getting anything going until the subs entered during the final half-hour, coughing up some scary chances for Qatar along the way. In the end, it was a moment of magic from Timothy Weah that earned the win. Unfortunately, they might have been better off settling for a draw to end up third in Group D, as finishing second almost certainly will task them with tackling title favorites France in the next round.
David Ochoa (8) — The tournament debutant certainly earned his goalkeeping badge with an all-around showing. In addition to commanding his area with punches and dashes off the line, Ochoa made the best of his six comfy saves to thwart a jailbreak up the gut close to halftime. He also distributed well.
Aboubacar Keita (4.5) — The center back made a few helpful interventions, but his performance will most be remembered for the nightmare turnover that forced Ochoa into the big 36th-minute save referenced above.
Chris Richards (7) — It was another smooth outing in the heart of defense for the Bayern Munich prodigy. Richards put several fires out before they started and moved the ball along safely.
Mark McKenzie (4) — The Philly Union Homegrown never looked comfortable over at right back, and it caused the team some undue stress. McKenzie was beaten outside, muffed a clearance inside and picked up a silly yellow card for another of his troubles.
Chris Gloster (5) — The Hannover 96 left back combined well up the flank on occasion, but probably not enough considering his role as the US's more attacking fullback. Gloster also committed a bad turnover to set Qatar running on goal.
Chris Durkin (4.5) — Far too many times, Durkin was unable to slow Qatar's bursts through his zone. He was also cheap with possession in some bad spots and drew his second caution of the group stage, which means he'll miss the round-of-16 tilt.
Brandon Servania (6) — The FC Dallas midfielder directed traffic fairly well, and was at the heart of most of the team's bright moves. Still, Servania was too often found chasing the play in the US end.
Alex Mendez (6) — The Freiburg prospect poked and prodded until he set up the goal play with a tackle near the Qatar box. However, he was also very inconsistent with restarts and will miss the next match thanks to an unnecessary yellow-card challenge.
Konrad de la Fuente (4) — It was the third straight underwhelming game for the Barcelona wing talent, who was removed just past the hour. De la Fuente keeps getting into good positions, but hasn't been able to beat defenders or make threatening plays.
Timothy Weah (7.5) — The speedster ran his socks off to create a few of the team's better chances, and decided matters late with a tender touch and a torrid finish.
Sebastian Soto (6) — It was nice to see the return of Soto's hold-up game. It's only a shame the team didn't use it more often. On the other hand, he'll probably think he should have done better than fire wide from a sharp angle when the Qatar 'keeper spilled at his feet.
Coach Tab Ramos (2) — Well, this is awkward. Ramos generally pulls the levers better as a tournament goes on, but this was not that. The lineup and game plan problems were myriad. Putting McKenzie out wide definitely backfired, and it's aggravating to see two starters that have played nearly every minute thus far left out long enough to pick up yellow-card suspensions.
Ulysses Llanez (7.5) — The Wolfsburg attacking prospect wasted no time making an impact with insistent runs on the ball. Llanez found the fast lanes that his field predecessor couldn't, and made those dribble drives count by supplying dangerous crosses and earning dangerous restarts.
Richie Ledezma (7) — The PSV Eindhoven youngster saw the field for only six minutes plus added time, but it was long enough to display a threat. Most notably, he hit the bar with a well-worked shot from just inside the area.
Matt Real (-) — A mere cameo.