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Youth MNT May 27, 2023

USA finishes perfect run in Group B at FIFA U-20 World Cup with 2-0 win over Slovakia

SAN JUAN, Argentina – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team topped Slovakia 2-0 to secure the top spot in Group B at the FIFA U-20 World Cup with a perfect nine points in three games. It’s the first time in the USA’s 17 appearances at the tournament that it’s finished with a 3-0-0 record in the group stage.

Forward Cade Cowell menaced the Sokoli defense all afternoon and opened the scoring in the 38th minute with an impressive individual effort, driving down the left flank past several Slovakia defenders. His San Jose Earthquakes club teammate Niko Tsakiris netted an insurance goal in the game’s final moments, once again making an impact off the bench.

With the victory and first place in Group B secured, the USA will face the third-place finisher from Group A, C or D in the Round of 16 on Tuesday, May 30 (1:30 p.m. ET; FS2). All three groups will have concluded play on Saturday.


USA 3 0 0 6 9
Ecuador 2 1 0 9 6
Slovakia 1 2 0 1 3
Fiji 0 3 0 -16 0

After getting off on the front foot and holding the better of possession from the get-go, the U.S. attack started to click midway through the first half as the young Americans found themselves knocking on the door multiple times. The 24th minute brought the first real danger in the aftermath of a U.S. corner as defender Justin Che put a header on frame and followed it up with another attempt inside the six off the rebound.

Cowell was often the sparkplug for the U.S., making a number of menacing runs down the left flank. In the 25th, he helped set up midfielder Obed Vargas for a rip outside the box that was deflected by goalkeeper Adam Hrdina before defender Caleb Wiley nearly turned the rebound into the game’s first goal.

The San Jose Earthquakes forward had a prime opportunity to open the scoring in the 28th minute, when he was sprung into some wide-open space by a masterful long ball from center back Brandan Craig. Cowell took a touch to play it over the ‘keeper at the top of the box and had an open net in front of him, but wasn’t able to control the ball and the ensuing shot from midfielder Diego Luna flew over the crossbar. Cowell then looked to have the USA’s opening goal in the 35th, but his effort was whistled offside.

The winger more than made up for the misfires with his remarkable run and goal in the 38th. Pouncing on a misplayed Slovakia back pass, he proceeded to maneuver his way through the Sokoli defense, keeping strong on the ball after an initial tackle attempt, dodging a sliding defender and then wheeling past a final pair of Slovakians at the top of the box before ripping a shot to the right side of the net. After missing the USA’s opening World Cup match vs. Ecuador due to suspension, Cowell has scored in both games since and is one of 10 players in Argentina with multiple goals to his name.

Slovakia responded shortly after the opening tally, rocketing a shot from beyond the top of the box in the 41st, but U.S. goalkeeper Gaga Slonina was up to the task and leapt to his right to make the save. Slonina and the U.S. defense recorded their third-straight clean sheet in Argentina, finishing the group stage with just 23 shots allowed.

Cowell picked up where he left off after the half causing problems for the Slovak defense. In the 48th, he made another threatening run down the left side before finding Luna charging into the six-yard box, but the midfielder’s first-time shot hit the post. Luna hit the woodwork again in the 67th, this time clanging it off the crossbar following an extended spell in Slovakia’s 18.

The Sokoli continued to look for an equalizer down the stretch, but the U.S. put the game out of reach in the sixth minute of extra time. Forward Quinn Sullivan found Tsakiris, once again a spark off the bench, cutting into the box, where he controlled and slotted home his fourth U-20 international goal.


  • Cowell’s goal was his fourth in nine U-20 caps and second at the World Cup. Tsakiris’ tally was his fourth in seven U-20 appearances.
  • Born in 2005, Tsakiris is the roster’s second-youngest player and also age-eligible for the 2025 FIFA U-20 World Cup. His father Shaun represented the U.S. at the 1999 U-20 World Cup and is an assistant coach with the U-20 MYNT.
  • Goalkeeper Gaga Slonina and defender Brandan Craig have played all 270 minutes for the USA thus far in Argentina.


Match: United States Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team vs. Slovakia
Date: May 26, 2023
Competition: 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup – Group B
Venue: Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario; San Juan, Argentina
Attendance: 15,059
Kickoff: 2 p.m. ET (3 p.m. local)
Weather: 63 degrees, clear

Scoring Summary:   1          2          F

USA                            1          0          1
SVK                            0          0          0

USA – Cade Cowell                                      38th minute
USA – Niko Tsakiris (Quinn Sullivan)       90+6


USA: 1-Gaga Slonina; 17-Justin Che, 5-Brandan Craig, 4-Josh Wynder; 2-Michael Halliday, 6-Daniel Edelman (Capt.) (8-Jack McGlynn, 67), 18-Obed Vargas, 3-Caleb Wiley (13-Jonathan Gomez, 77); 16-Owen Wolff (15-Niko Tsakiris, 67), 10-Diego Luna (19-Darren Yapi, 73), 9-Cade Cowell (7-Quinn Sullivan, 73)

Substitutes not used: 12-Antonio Carrera, 21-Alex Borto, 14-Marcus Ferkranus

Head coach: Mikey Varas

SVK: 12-Adam Hrdina; 5-David Ovsonka, 6-Sebastian Kosa (Capt.), 9-Adam Griger (10-Timotej Jambor, 46), 11-Adam Gazi (7-Balint Csoka, 46), 14-Mate Szolgai (4-Jan Murgas, 68), 16-Leo Sauer, 17-Dominik Snajder, 18-Nicolas Sikula, 19-Samuel Kopasek (2-Simon Micuda, 75), 20-Mario Sauer (8-Artur Gajdos, 46)

Substitutes not used: 1-Samuel Belanik, 21-Adam Danko, 3-Samuel Bagin, 13-Marek Ujlaky, 15-Nino Marcelli, 21-Adam Danko

Head coach: Albert Rusnak

Stats Summary: USA / SVK

Shots: 20/9
Shots on Goal: 8/4
Saves: 4/6
Corner Kicks: 10/6
Fouls: 4/11
Offside: 4/0

Misconduct Summary:



Referee: Ramon Abatti (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Rafael Alves (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Guilherme Camilo (BRA)
Fourth Official: Ahmad Al Ali (KUW)
VAR: Rodolpho Toski Marques (BRA)
AVAR 1: Tatiana Guzman (NCA)