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Youth MNT Jun 26, 2022

USA beats Nicaragua 5-0, advancing to quarterfinals of Concacaf U-20 Championship

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team defeated Nicaragua 5-0 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Concacaf U-20 Championship.

Forward Quinn Sullivan bagged a brace, opening the scoring at the end of the first half, while four second-half tallies from Sullivan, midfielder Diego Luna, defender Jalen Neal and an own goal put the game away to secure the USA’s advancement.

With the victory, the USA moves on to face Costa Rica in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, June 28 (7 p.m. ET; FS2, TUDN) for a berth to the 2023 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Indonesia. At this year’s Concacaf U-20 Championship, the four quarterfinal winners qualify to the U-20 World Cup, while the two semifinal winners advance to the 2024 Olympics.

Nicaragua, playing its first match at the tournament after advancing directly to the Round of 16 from a pre-qualifying tournament last November, put up a spirited effort against the USA in the first half led by goalkeeper Miguel Rodriguez. While the U.S. threatened early and often, dominating possession, the U-20s struggled to find the back of the net in the early-going.

U.S. wingers Sullivan and Cade Cowell menaced the Nicaragua defense, creating a number of chances in the game’s first 15 minutes. Cowell made a few impressive runs deep into Nicaragua territory while Sullivan found success getting behind Los Pinoleros’ defense, with both firing off a number of dangerous shots. The Central Americans almost scored an own goal in the seventh minute when a good cross in from Sullivan was nearly headed into the net by a Nicaragua defender, if not for a leaping save from Rodriguez.

The USA midfield trio of Luna, Jack McGlynn and Daniel Edelman also did well to push the ball forward throughout the evening. While Nicaragua was out-possessed 69 percent-31 percent on then night, the team took advantage of a few threatening  moments on the counterattack.

After a number of close calls down the stretch, the breakthrough finally came in the second minute of first-half stoppage time. A midfield force for the U.S. all night, Luna drove to the end line and sent in a cross for Sullivan, who slipped just beyond the six-yard box and headed it home for the game’s opening goal.

Luna netted one of his own shortly after the break. When Sullivan was brought down by a hard Nicaragua foul in the box, the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty kick, which was the USA’s fourth of the tournament. The newly-signed Real Salt Lake midfielder was cool from the spot, sending it in to the right side of the net.

As the second half continued, the U.S. continued to wear down the Nicaragua defense and cemented its lead with another goal in the 65th minute. This time, it was Cowell on the run to the end line before sending a service to the six for Sullivan, who one-timed it for his second goal of the night. Sullivan’s five goals, scored in the USA’s last two games, currently lead the tournament.

The USA made itself at home in the Nicaragua final third as the game wore on, as head coach Mikey Varas used all five substitutions. Midfielder Paxten Aaronson brought a spark off the bench, firing off a few dangerous shots. Shortly after entering the game, fellow substitute Caden Clark sent a cross into the box that was deflected into the net by Nicaragua defender Dylan Pineda, further extending the U.S. advantage in the 72nd.

The exclamation point came in the 85th minute on Neal’s first U-20 international goal. In the aftermath of a free kick in Nicaragua’s final third, Edelman sent the ball back into the box where a shot from U-20 MYNT debutant Jackson Hopkins was deflected and fell to Neal, who tapped it home to finish the scoring.

GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN

USA – Quinn Sullivan (Diego Luna), 45+2nd minute: Driving down the left wing in the final minutes of the first half, Luna dashed past two defenders to the end line before cutting a cross back in just beyond the six-yard box. Sullivan drifted back to meet it seven yards out, hitting a header to the right side of the net to kick off the scoring for the USA. USA 1, NCA 0

USA – Diego Luna (Penalty Kick), 56th minute: After Sullivan was brought down on the right side of the box, Luna stepped up to the spot for the penalty. The midfielder sent a hard-hit shot to the right side of the net for his first goal of the tournament. USA 2, NCA 0 

USA – Quinn Sullivan (Cade Cowell), 65th minute: Working the ball around Nicaragua’s final third, Cowell received the ball on the left edge of the box and drove forward towards the end line. He cut back a cross for the onrushing Sullivan just inside the top right corner of the six and he the forward hit a rolling shot to the far left post for his tournament-leading fifth goal. USA 3, NCA 0

USA – Own Goal (Dylan Pineda), 72nd minute: Midfielder Caden Clark sent in a cross from the left edge of the box and as Nicaragua attempted to clear, Pineda knocked it into his own net for the USA’s fourth goal. USA 4, NCA 0

USA – Jalen Neal, 85th minute: In the aftermath of a free kick a yard from the left edge of the 18, the USA managed to maintain possession after its initial shot was deflected.  Clark played it back to Daniel Edelman beyond the top of the box, the midfielder played in for Jackson Hopkins near the six and when his shot was parried by the Nicaragua goalkeeper, it fell to Neal on the right side of the six. He tapped it to the far left side of the net for his first U-20 international goal. USA 5, NCA 0 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

  • The USA is now 2-0-0 all-time vs. Nicaragua at the Concacaf U-20 Championship, besting Los Pinoleros in their first match-up at the tournament since 1976.
  • Head coach Mikey Varas made seven changes from the starting lineup that clinched the Group E title vs. Cuba on Wednesday. Goalkeeper Chris Brady, defenders Noah Allen and Jalen Neal and forward Quinn Sullivan were the four holdovers.
  • Sullivan’s five goals are the most in the tournament so far. Three players have four goals, including one still set to play in a Round of 16 match tomorrow.
  • Eleven players have now scored for the U.S. at the tournament: Sullivan (five goals), Paxten Aaronson, Cade Cowell, Niko Tsakiris (two goals each), Caden Clark, Mauricio Cuevas, Diego Luna, Jack McGlynn, Jalen Neal, Rokas Pukstas and Tyler Wolff.
  • Six players have registered an assist for the U.S.: Diego Luna (four assists), Clark (three), Sullivan (two), Aaronson, Alejandro Alvarado Jr. and Cowell.

-U.S. UNDER-20 MEN’S YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT-

Match: U.S. Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team vs. Nicaragua
Date: June 25, 2022
Competition: Concacaf U-20 Championship – Round of 16
Venue: Estadio Nacional; Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Attendance: 250
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. local (8:30 p.m. ET)
Weather: 72 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F
USA                            1          4          5
NCA                            0          0          0

USA – Quinn Sullivan (Diego Luna)               45+2nd minute
USA – Diego Luna (Penalty Kick)                   56
USA – Quinn Sullivan (Cade Cowell)             65
USA – Own Goal (Dylan Pineda)                    72
USA – Jalen Neal                                            85

Lineups:

USA: 1-Chris Brady; 13-Michael Halliday, 14-Jalen Neal, 4-Marcus Ferkranus, 3-Noah Allen (2-Mauricio Cuevas, 57); 6-Daniel Edelman, 8-Jack McGlynn (19-Alejandro Alvarado Jr., 66), 15-Diego Luna (18-Jackson Hopkins, 74); 7-Quinn Sullivan, 16-Tyler Wolff (10-Paxten Aaronson, 57), 9-Cade Cowell (11-Caden Clark, 66)

Substitutes Not Used: 12-Antonio Carrera, 5-Brandan Craig, 17-Niko Tsakiris, 20-Rokas Pukstas

Head Coach: Mikey Varas

NCA: 1-Miguel Rodriguez, 3-Kurt Thomas (13-Angelo Velasquez, 67), 4-Dylan Pineda, 5-Cristhian Herrera (Capt.), 6-Osmin Salinas, 7-Keylon Batiz (16-Freddy Ortiz, 74), 8-Fredman Kirklan (19-Ocnarpz Rodriguez, 66), 9-Carlos Rodriguez, 10-Widman Talavera, 11-Manuel Gutierrez (17-Jose Reyes, 46), 15-Oscar Soto (20-Jareck Caceres, 46)
Substitutes Not Used: 12-Cesar Salandia, 2-Joel Soto, 14-Jermar Lopez, 18-Joarlyn Caldera

Head Coach: Jaime Ruiz

Stats Summary: USA / NCA
Shots: 20 / 6
Shots on Goal: 11 / 1
Saves: 1 / 6
Corner Kicks: 9 / 1
Fouls: 12 / 9
Offside: 1 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
None

Officials:
Referee: Keylor Herrera (CRC)
Assistant Referee 1: Carlos Fernandez (CRC)
Assistant Referee 2: Ojay Duhaney (JAM)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Montero (CRC)
VAR: Juan Gabriel Calderon (CRC)
AVAR1: Marianela Araya (CRC)

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