A pair of goals less than a minute apart by Jeremy Ebobisse and Brooks Lennon broke open what had been a tight game for the United States and sent the Americans on the way to a 6-0 victory over New Zealand and onto a quarterfinal matchup against Venezuela.
The Americans were clearly the better team from the start at Incheon Stadium controlling possession and creating chances while the Junior All Whites seemed content to defend and hope to head home from a cross or set piece.
The Young Yanks eventually did make the breakthrough on a 32nd-minute goal that was first credited to emergency fullback Justen Glad before being added to the already robust account of 17-year-old sensation Josh Sargent.
The goal was the fourth of the tournament for Sargent, as the St Louis Gallagher’s product joins Eddie Johnson, Taylor Twellman, and Jozy Altidore at the top of the list of American goal scorers at a single U20 World Cup.
With three starters sidelined with yellow card suspensions and Gedion Zelalem out for the tournament with an injury picked up in the opening game Ramos was forced to switch from his favored 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 formation.
Ramos reinstated Tommy Redding at center back beside captain Erik Palmer-Brown and turned to Justen Glad at right fullback. The absence of Derrick Jones, who established himself as a regular in the side after taking over for Zelalem forced Ramos to rely on Tyler Adams and Eryk Williamson in the center of the park and tireless duo successfully took on the work of three men.
Jeremy Ebobisse got the nod up top along with Sargent and while the 2017 Portland Timbers draftee was slow to get into the match he arrived in style with a blasted goal in the 64th minute when he took a pass from Sargent and turned and fired the U.S. into a 2-0 lead. Less than a minute later Lennon ran onto an exquisite chip from Williamson before beating the New Zealand keeper to make it 3-0, beginning the rout in earnest.
The U.S. added goals from Glad, this time it stood, and substitutes Auston Trusty and Lagos Kunga to secure the largest margin of victory for the American men at a U20 World Cup since a different group of Americans defeated Turkey by the same score at the 1993 tournament in Australia.
Next up for the U.S. is a quarterfinal match against a well rested Venezuela side who have had their feet up since topping Japan two days ago, albeit in extra time.
Venezuela has yet to concede a goal in this tournament having beaten Germany 2-0, Mexico 1-0 and Vanuatu 7-0 in group play before eliminating Japan. And before you dismiss that touchdown over Vanuatu consider that the South Pacific Island nation lost to both Mexico and Germany in close 3-2 encounters.
In other Round of 16 results Portugal knocked off the home team, South Korea, 3-1, Uruguay edged Saudi Arabia 1-0, Zambia sent Germany packing 4-3 after extra time, Mexico needed an 89th-minute goal to nip Senegal, England got a brace from Everton youngster Ademola Lookman to defeat Costa Rica 2-1, and Italy knocked off tournament favorites France 2-1.
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 5 6
NZL 0 0 0
USA – Josh Sargent (Justen Glad) 32th minute
USA – Jeremy Ebobisse (Josh Sargent) 64
USA – Brooks Lennon (Eryk Williamson) 65
USA – Justen Glad (Brooks Lennon) 76
USA – Auston Trusty (Sebastian Saucedo) 84
USA – Lagos Kunga (Luca de la Torre) 90+3
USA: 1-Jonathan Klinsmann; 3-Danny Acosta (2-Auston Trusty, 76), 5-Erik Palmer-Brown (capt.), 4-Tommy Redding, 6-Justen Glad; 20-Luca de la Torre, 8-Tyler Adams, 7-Eryk Williamson, 15-Jeremy Ebobisse (11-Sebastian Saucedo, 79); 19-Josh Sargent, 17-Brooks Lennon (13-Lagos Kunga, 79)
Subs not used: 9-Emmanuel Sabbi, 12-James Marcinkowski, 21-Brady Scott
Not available: 10-Gedion Zelalem, 14-Aaron Herrera, 16-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 18-Derrick Jones,
Head coach: Tab Ramos
NZL: 1-Michael Woud; 3-Sean Liddicoat, 5-Hunter Ashworth (18-Sapreet Singh, 65), 6-Joe Bell (16-Callum McCowatt, 82), 8-Moses Dyer (capt.), 9-Noah Billingsley (11-Henry Cameron, 53), 13-James McGarry, 14-Jack-Henry Sinclair, 15-Reese Cox, 17-Logan Rogerson, 19-Myer Bevan,
Subs not used: 2-Dane Ingham, 4-Luke Johnson, 7-Connor Probert, 12-Cameron Brown, 20-Lucas Imrie, 21-Conor Tracey
Not available: 10-Clayton Lewis
Head coach: Darren Bazeley
Stats Summary: USA / NZL
Shots: 19 / 6
Shots on Goal: 10 / 0
Saves: 0 / 4
Corner Kicks: 10 / 2
Fouls: 9 / 10
Offside: 0 / 3
NZL –Henry Cameron (caution) 80th minute