The United States Men’s National Under-20 Soccer Team pulled off an absolutely stunning upset victory Tuesday in the 2019 U20 World Cup.
Team USA knocked off 2018 World Cup Champion France’s U20 squad in a rousing 3-2 comeback win.
Despite going down 2-1 early in the second half, the U.S. never seemed to stop fighting against an opponent that was a popular pick to win the entire tournament.
The victory booked a spot in the quarterfinals for the U.S. where it will take on Ecuador, another upset-minded “Cinderella-like” team, Saturday at 11:30 AM EST.
With just eight teams left in the field, the remaining favorite is Italy with +250 odds to win in some futures soccer betting markets. Despite the victory, the U.S. is considered to have the fifth-best shot to win with odds of +900.
Obviously, this is a far cry from, say, a win over France in the actual World Cup, but the fact that this young, touted group of Americans pulled off such a dramatic result is a good sign for the near future of the federation.
Tab Ramos’ squad came in facing odds as high as +600 to knock off Les Bleus in regulation time, but the Stars and Stripes struck early with a goal from Sebastian Soto.
France’s Amine Gouiri scored an equalizer on the break to put the pressure back on the U.S., and Nabil Alioui seemingly put France through to the next round with his go-ahead goal in the 55th minute.
Then Timothy Weah, a 19-year-old with a big last name and growing expectations, hit Soto with a beautiful through pass in the French box. Soto made a tremendous effort to keep his balance and scored while falling down to equalize for the U.S.
Then it was the New England Revolution’s own Justin Rennicks in the 83rd that put back a slightly muffed save from goalkeeper Alban Lafont that sealed the win for the Yanks.
Win Could be Good Sign for World Cup 2022
Any win is a good win for any team in the U.S. national soccer system, particularly after a catastrophic performance in World Cup qualifying play cost the nation a spot in the 2018 tournament.
But this rising generation of players is showing some serious potential. Players like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie are quickly becoming household names, and some of the standouts from Tuesday could soon join them at the next level.
Weah, the son of global soccer legend and Liberian president George Weah, seems to get better every time he steps onto the pitch.
Tuesday was a phenomenal showcase of his developing skills, and he’ll likely be a main fixture on the senior squad sooner rather than later.
Soto’s brace also impressed and with recent news he could be on the move from his Bundesliga club, Hannover 96, he appears to have upped his value.
After the news broke from Germany that Soto is likely to move on from Hannover, bagging a brace against France in a u20 World Cup is a heck of a way to drum up your price point and overall interest.— MLS Buzz (@MLS_Buzz) June 4, 2019
There was already a lot of interest, now there will be even more. pic.twitter.com/mphOkti061
Really though, the performance of the team as a whole showed that in situations where they may be outclassed by opponents, these youngsters have the ability to play to the level of their competition, which is a good sign for the U.S.’s big picture.
Obviously, these are still very raw, young talents with plenty of questions still to be answered. There has been no historical guarantee that teams that succeed in the U20 World Cup have developed world-beating senior squads.
It remains a positive sign, however, and with America’s odds listed at +170 to win the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup and a whopping +10000 to win the 2022 World Cup, it’s going to be interesting to see how the U20 standouts factor in.