Fresh off of leading the U.S. team to qualification for the U17 World Cup this autumn in India Josh Sargent scored twice today to set the stage for Luca de la Torre’s 94th-minute equalizer in a crazy 3-3 draw versus Ecuador at the U20 Mundiales in South Korea.
It has been a wild U20 tournament from the start and the U.S. and Ecuador played their part with today’s thriller as the Young Yanks rebounded after falling behind 2-0 to the highly regarded South American runners-up after less than seven minutes had elapsed.
Injuries to Justen Glad and Marlon Fossey forced coach Tab Ramos to reorganize the U.S. defense, which had been so solid in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, and the early results were not promising to leave the Americans with a hill to climb.
Orlando center back Tommy Redding, excellent in that U17 tournament where he played between Glad and Fossey, was victimized on both goals. The Americans eventually settled down, aided in large part by an unfortunate injury to one-time wunderkind Gedion Zelalem.
Zelalem was forced off in the 32nd minute, replaced by midfielder Derrick Jones. Jones doesn’t have the pedigree of Arsenal man Zelalem and when Jones’ paperwork came through to allow the Ghana-born Philadelphia Union product to suit up for the U.S. Bruce Arena did not declare Jones ready to contribute to the senior squad, as Jurgen Klinsmann famously did of Zelalem.
But Jones’ introduction proved just the tonic that the U.S. needed and minutes after his intro Jones broke up an Ecuador attack and fed Luca de la Torre who found a streaking Sargent in a dangerous position and the 17 year old did the rest to halve the U.S. deficit in the 36th minute.
Jones, de la Torre, and Tyler Adams were giving the U.S. plenty of possession in the middle of the park and with Brooks Lennon providing a threat on the right wing the Americans were in the ascendancy and fully deserved the equalizer that came when Sargent headed home Lennon’s superb cross in the 54th minute.
Jones played a big part in that goal too, again breaking up the Ecuador attack before finding Adams with a nice outlet pass. Adams shuttled the ball to Lennon and the Liverpool to Real Salt Lake loanee teed it up just so for Ramos’ youngest player to score his second goal of the match.
But the Americans proved unable to handle prosperity, surrendering the lead 12 minutes later when keeper Jonathan Klinsmann got a bit too cute in possession, coughing the ball up to gift Bryan Cabezas with his second goal of the match, presenting Ecuador with the lead.
Then for the second time in this match, the Americans showed resilience and were ultimately rewarded when the 18-year-old de la Torre pounced on a poor Ecuador clearance following a dangerous Lennon cross, to finish coolly in the 94th minute.
Next up for the U.S. is a tough matchup against Senegal who sits atop Group F after today’s 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia while Ecuador get the easier round two game versus the Saudi’s. The top two finishers in each group advance to the next round as will the best four third place finishers.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
ECU 2 1 3
ECU – Herlin Lino (Washington Corozo) 5th minute
ECU – Bryan Cabezas (Jhonny Quiñonez) 7
USA – Josh Sargent (Luca de la Torre) 36
USA – Josh Sargent (Brooks Lennon) 54
ECU – Bryan Cabezas 64
USA – Luca de la Torre 90+4
USA: 1-Jonathan Klinsmann; 3-Danny Acosta, 4-Tommy Redding, 5-Erik Palmer-Brown (capt.), 14-Aaron Herrera; 7-Eryk Williamson (13-Lagos Kunga, 72), 8-Tyler Adams (11-Sebastian Saucedo, 85), 10-Gedion Zelalem (18-Derrick Jones, 34), 17-Brooks Lennon, 19-Josh Sargent, 20-Luca de la Torre
Subs not used: 2-Auston Trusty, 6-Justen Glad, 9-Emmanuel Sabbi, 12-James Marcinkowski, 15-Jeremy Ebobisse, 16-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 21-Brady Scott
Head coach: Tab Ramos
ECU: 1-Jose Cevallos; 4-Kevin Minda, 6-Pervis Estupiñan, 7-Washington Orozco (19-Jordy Caicedo, 77), 8-Wilter Ayovi (17-Joao Rojas, 57), 9-Herlin Lino, 10-Bryan Cabezas, 15-Jordan Sierra (capt.), 16-Jhonny Quiñonez (14-Renny Jaramillo, 89), 18-Feliz Torres, 20-Luis Segovia
Subs not used: 2-Angelo Preciado, 3-Joel Quintero, 5-Juan Nazareno, 11-Yeison Guerrero, 12-Gian Terreros, 13-Jonnathan Bravo, 21-Gabriel Carabali
Head coach: Jose Rodriguez
Stats Summary: USA / ECU
Shots: 6 / 12
Shots on Goal: 5 / 5
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 3 / 3
Fouls: 12 / 11
Offside: 1 / 2
ECU – Washington Corozo (caution) 74th minute
USA – Derrick Jones (caution) 80