Villarreal brace helps U.S. U-20s clinch World Cup spot with win over Canada

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When Dylan Carreiro’s long-range shot beat Cody Cropper and gave Canada a surprising 1-0 lead on the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team, the goal was either going to lead to the U.S. team’s demise, or be a wake-up call for a squad that hadn’t really shown their best form yet.

Four goals later, the Americans were booking their place in the Under-20 World Cup.

Jose Villarreal notched two goals in a four-goal U.S. rally on their way to a 4-2 victory in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Under-20 World Cup Qualifying Tournament.

The victory booked the U.S. team’s place in the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey this summer.

“I have to give the players so much credit for today,” said U.S. Under-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos. “Not only are they playing a very difficult game that has a lot of pressure, but at the same time they found themselves behind. I enjoyed seeing the satisfaction on the players’ faces when they accomplished something big. I’m glad to be a part of today’s result.”

The attacking quartet of Villarreal, Daniel Cuevas, Luis Gil and Mario Rodriguez was just too tough for the Canadian defense to handle, especially after Canada lost defensive leader Doneil Henry to a hamstring injury in the 33rd minute. The Americans overwhelmed the Canadians, putting the match out of reach early in the second half.

The U.S. attack flashed its quality after Canada’s opening goal, with Gil latching on to a Cuevas pass before taking a touch and calmly finishing just six minutes after Canada’s opening goal.

The Americans took the lead in the 40th minute when Rodriguez torched the Canadian defense and whipped in a dangerous pass that Villarreal one-timed past Canadian goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. Canada felt the absence of captain and defensive stalwart Doneil Henry in the 33rd minute

Canada looked poised to enter halftime down a goal, but the U.S. extended the lead just before halftime when Columbus Crew midfielder Wil Trapp sent a long-range blast off a Canadian defender and into the net to make the score 3-1 heading into the break.

Villarreal made it 4-1 in the 54th minute when he finished off a Benji Joya pass, and the match looked all but settled before Canadian midfielder Samuel Piette gave the Canucks some life with a 64th-minute blast from distance. Unfortunately for the Canadians, 4-2 was as close as they would come.

Now the U.S. will turn their attention to the CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament semifinals, where they will face Cuba on Friday. Cuba qualified for their first Under-20 World Cup by beating Costa Rica, 2-1, in Tuesday’s quarterfinal.

What did you think of the U.S. team’s performance on Tuesday? Which player impressed you the most? Think the Americans can win the CONCACAF Tournament? Excited for the Under-20 World Cup?

Share your thoughts below.

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70 Responses to Villarreal brace helps U.S. U-20s clinch World Cup spot with win over Canada

  1. A says:

    Villareal, Cuevas and Gil looked a step above everyone else on the pitch for either team. No wonder Arenas was going crazy about getting Villareal back so quickly. Future star.

    Can’t tell you how happy I am that we are essentially done playing CONCACAF teams for important matches for awhile. I get so frustrated by the cookie cutter way every game goes. We score first–it’s open season on our players and officials do nothing. We go down first and X minutes of time wasting horror.

    Glad we’ve got a squad here that can rise above that and put it out of reach and out of the officials hands. Onto Turkey and priceless development opportunities for the young guys!

    • JoeSchmoe says:


      Can you imagine a player in Europe getting away with that jumping rugby tackle and then shoving our guy into the ground as he was trying to get up without even a yellow?

      Should be great for the kids to play against the best in the world. Would love to see Spain v. USA.

    • Dudester says:

      Yeah until Costa Rica next month.Thank god it’s at home at least.

    • fortunate only says:

      Surely you’re kidding…

      This US team has been one of the worst offenders when it comes to time wasting during the tournament,

      Something about glass houses and stones…

      • Hogatroge says:

        We must have us a Canadian fan here.

        • ld says:

          So it must be sour grapes then…there is no way it could possibly be true…

        • fortunate only says:

          laughable….now i’m a canadian?

          I’m calling what I saw.

          Joya and Villareal both went down a couple times, rolling on the ground screaming in pain only for the ref to tell them to get up.

          Can’t be complaining about other teams doing the exact same thing our boys were doing.

    • SilverRey says:

      Is that an Ives Galarcep photo credit above?

    • TomG says:

      We looked great. One caveat, though, Canada looked dead all game. U.S. attackers were gathering in medium to long balls on the wing with acres of space to play with the ball. Maybe Klinsi trained the Canadian team this week? The game was also changed when Henry went out at 1-1. That guy was really keeping Canada in the game singlehandedly, He looked fantastic. Agreed that Villareal, Cuevas, and Gil looked great, but I would add that Joya and Will Trapp did all the little things on both ends to get those guys the ball in the right spot. Trapp’s goal was also the best strike of the match… very impressive. Caleb Stanko also looked awesome. He was everywhere, snuffing out chance after chance and displaying ball skills that I’ve never seen out of a US U-20 CB.

  2. dikranovich says:

    spain, france, england, portugal, croatia, uruguay, chile, south korea. thats a pretty yummy u20 world cup. no argentina or brazil means that this will be an open tournament

    • wilyboy says:

      Yes. I’ll take the teams that beat Argentina and Brazil any day.

      This group is plenty strong.

    • Josh D says:

      Colombia will be a powerhouse. I watched all their u20s and beyond the usual Colombian cockiness, they played wonderfully.

  3. ld says:

    You guys think USA is too good now for concacaf because they qualified for a u20 world cup? Get real, you are out of touch with reality

    • Chris says:

      Exactly what reality are you living in?

    • Lost in Space says:

      Nowhere does anyone say that the US is too good for CONCACAF because we qualified for the U-20 WC. However, there are claims (accurate ones) of poor officiating and Hack-a-shaq tactics by some of the players/teams.
      The US (and to an extent Canada) is the johnie-come-lately to the sport of Futbol/Soccer. Many in Central America (and Europe) do not want to be shown up by our late-to the party country. El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and even Mexico (Rafa being the most netorious) have taken to flopping, time wasting, and cheep shots over the past 10-15 years or so, when playing US teams. If you don’t agree that’s your fine, but don’t try and put words in peoples mouths.

      • Kevin says:

        Speaking of cheap shots, what do you have to say about Dempsey and J. Jones? Don’t tell me you forgot about the Gold Cup final?

        • Lorenzo says:

          I don’t like Jones, he is the most leaning towards the nasty side of players I’ve seen the USA have. Orozco seems to have a bit of a streak in him as well maybe.

          Basically what I remember is US came to the table against Mexico and brought physicality, but within the rules of the game. Bumping, tight marking, shoulder to shoulder. And we started beating them a lot, and in frustration some of their players responded to our physicallity with cheap stuff like bad tackles and elbows, etc. I think of Marquez and I think that blonde Hernandez was another one, Blanco, Oswaldo Sahez (I think Borgetti was fine). Now with players like Chicharito and Guardado and Ochoa, I have more respect for how these guys play.

        • dcpohl says:

          I have no problem with Jones or our players acting out on our opposition from Central America. Once teams, especially Mexico, realize that we’ll stoop to their level and retaliate hopefully they’ll quit with their hard fouls. It’s like fighting a bully, once you give them a black eye they’ll leave you alone.

      • Shane says:

        I guess I’m the only one that noticed our players flopping against Haiti and CR and time wasting against Canada

    • Old School says:

      Doom and gloom. Clean up on Aisle Unhappiness.

    • 2tone says:

      Well we can tell that you are just a troll. Keep on trolling, troll.

  4. Mack says:

    hopefully we have some improvement in the middle of the midfield before turkey. trapp was very ricardo clark on the first goal, headed a ball to the center of the box that led to the second canada goal and teed up the canada striker again for a 3rd but the guy just missed it. i know people will disagree because he scored from long range on a deflected goal but it is not a good game if your mistakes lead to 2 goals the other way. id like to see a lopez joya combo but i do realize lopez was out this game with suspension. trapp shows potential but he gives the ball away way too easily. its a shame we wont have pelosi in there.

    • atd says:

      Yeah — the Lopez suspension hurt. Wil Trapp is a promising player, but when he’s your midfield bite, you’ve got a bit of an issue.

    • Lost in Space says:

      John Brooks being available (if he comes) will allow Stanko to move back to his more natural position in the CDM. This team was short a number of our 1st & 2nd choice CB’s (Brooks, Packwood, Zimmerman?) which forced Tab to play our best CDM as a CB. Overall was impressed with Cropper, Villareal, Cuevas, Gil, the #9 in todays match. They all played well, and had great movement/communication. A couple more players step it up and this team could be very entertaining in Turkey. Just sad that Pelosi and Packwood will not be there.

  5. Amru says:

    Which U20 strikers do we have in Europe that would likely be called in for the world cup?

    • A says:

      Well you would have seen Liverpool’s Marc Pelosi, but he broke his leg. There’s a chance you could see Liverpool’s other American, Villyan, if he can ever get that work permit business sorted out and thusly some actual playing time… but the attacking core of the team will be Villareal, Mario, Cuevas and Gil and Joya with maybe a few other guys who’ve stepped up–granted that’s if their clubs release them.

    • Beto says:

      JA Brooks (cb) and bijev (fwd) would both be big additions for this team. McCargo (mid) and Kiesewetter (cf) seem to have some intnl reputation too. Never know if someone in MLS steps up too like Fher, Renken (ptl), Yedlin (sea), McBean (lag) or Salgado (van)… As usual with the US; plenty of options no clear direction…

      • Weaksauce says:

        Houston Dynamo Home grown player – Bryan Salazar

      • Astorian says:

        Renken was cut by Portland last year and was cut by Philly earlier this month and is currently without a team. It would take a major miracle for him to play his way onto the roster.

        • Josh D says:

          A disappointing end to what would have been a great career. It’s sad to see such young players end their careers prematurely due to injury.

    • Riggity says:

      JULIAN GREEN- Bayern Munich

  6. Amru says:

    U20 world cup that is*

  7. CCJC says:

    In other news, both “el homie” Castillo and Joe Corona have each scored a goal vs San Jose in Copa Libertadores action today. Good momentum heading into the upcoming WCQ games.

  8. Beto says:

    Is there an article thats not loading?

    Anyway, glad to see the US’ futility vs canada not extending into the youth ranks. Overall good team and good tournament; although all three games were much closer that they would appear on paper. I think the team is much more professional than before and could be great. That said defending is still a huge issue.

    Too echo what other people have said; nothing wrong with the concacaf opponents as there are some legit teams but it will certainly be nice to move on to the more diverse fields of european, south american, asian and african teams; concacaf play and officials can become maddening after a while

  9. Wow, we won all three games. Our defense really wasn’t that good, but I guess the attack just about made up for it.Can’t wait for the summer

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I think people have generally covered the highlights so let’s talk about the iffy ones, #2 was awful and has been consistently so. I cannot believe there is no one else under 20 in the whole USA who can play better than that.

    • beachbum says:

      definitely with some issues on the back line, defense never did get really get it together imo. 4 goals in a qualifying game is pretty impressive tho

  10. Mike_NYC says:

    This U20 WC qualifying is the first youth soccer I have ever really watched. I was really happy to see the way these kids played – especially tonight. Though obviously I am not saying they are better than the senior team but it appears that they play with more creativity. Villareal was great tonight obviously but I was really impressed with Cuevas. That guy can dribble through anyone it seems. I was very glad to have discovered the youth team and maybe now I will start following some of the Mexican league to keep my eyes on some of the USA kids that play there. I’m excited to see the rest of this tournament – not looking past Cuba but a Mexico v USA in the final will be fun to watch. And of course being on the world stage in Turkey this summer will be great for these kids and the USA and the USA program. I say great job tonight to the team.

    • David JS says:

      I think the MLS guys from this team (Villareal, Gil) will probably head back to their teams now that the job of qualifying has been done. Still, this US squad has as good of a chance as anyone to take the whole cake.

  11. mike says:

    Cuba won? Now that is something.

  12. mike says:

    They certainly have a few quality players but if they want to show well in Turkey they are going to need to improve the defense. JAB is a must as well a a dominating DM

    • 2tone says:

      JAB is not a DM. He ius a CB.

      • atd says:

        JAB as well as a DM. Good news is, JAB’s addition would have the add-on benefit of creating more DM depth. I liked the Trapp-Lopez combo, but Trapp by himself clearly doesn’t cut it. With JAB at CB, you could push one of the CBs into midfield….

        • atd says:

          Worth noting that DM is the one spot where the 2011 team was clearly superior to the 2013s. RB, too, probably, but that’s kind of a weird case; neither team was strong there, and the 2013s apparently made a major selection mistake. Maybe CB, but I think you could argue that one either way.

  13. Oranje Mike says:

    U-20s qualify for a World Cup. Might be our only taste this cycle.

  14. It is nice to see we finally have some players that can hold onto the ball and show some creative movement in the final third.

    The 1st Villareal goal, Canadian defense looked rooted while he just tapped it into the goal to look easy.

    If this team is an indication of the talent available in this country, the future is looking very bright.

  15. TGA says:

    we beat Canada….a country that took a 20 year break from playing and developing soccer. relax.

    • Benjamin C. says:

      It has more to do with qualifying than with beating Canada, particularly after recent failures on the youth level (missing the Olympics, missing the last U-20 World Cup). It is okay to be excited about particuar players; to me, that is what it is all about at this level. The more opportunities these guys have to be exposed to international play and big time tournaments, the better. Plus, the U.S. should expect to qualify for World Cups on all levels and the Olympics every time out, and subsequently freak out a little if it doesn’t happen; that is not a shot at the rest of CONCACAF, that is simply the viewpoint of every footballing nation that takes itself seriously.

      • Gelo27 says:

        Great point of view BC. USA and Mexico should dominant CONCACAF and do it with desire and confidence all levels/stages. Brazil and Argentina did not qualify for the U-20 WC this year with 11 titles between them. I wonder if their U20 coaches still have a job? Don’t know that’s why I am asking.

        • fortunate only says:

          To be perfectly honest, Mexico is the only country in CONCACAF that can expect to dominate the region at the youth level. And that is only recent, given their struggles in the past.

          The US has never even won the CONCACAF U20 qualifying tournament, why would the USSF, coaches, fans and players expect to “dominate” the region when they truly have never done so?

          • Gelo27 says:

            fortunate only,

            You are right, but the USA needs to start having expectations (of course needs follow up on them) in order to achieve that next level of play. Mexico’s youth program is years ahead of the USA, but the US is making great strides, unfortunately it won’t show for another 5-7 years at the youth level and 10-12 years at the Sr level. But it is coming.

            • fortunate only says:

              Expectations without the results to create them are only detrimental.

              On the senior level, it’s obvious the US and Mexico are the top dogs but that isn’t really the case at the youth levels.

              Not long ago, people also thought of Mexico as youth power in CONCACAF and even though they had some silverware to prove it, they were terribly inconsistent and showed little progress. The last two years have seen the emergence of Mexico as a true youth power, although that’s not saying much given the fact that the U17 and U20 WC aren’t that big a deal in Europe.

              One more thing, yes the US is improving but so is everyone else.

              Five or seven years you say? That’s way too optimistic, IMO.

  16. 2tone says:

    Good game.

    For me: Cuevas, Gil, Joya, Stanko, and Villarreal are the class of the team. Can’t wait to see these guys in the U-20 WC.

    With hopefully adding Henley, JAB, Zimmerman, Yedlin, Salazar, and Salgado this team could do some damage at the WC.

    Other players that will be in the convo for a call-up: Green, Pfeffer, and Iloski.

  17. NC Jeff says:

    I’m impressed by the strides Cuba appears to be making. I see the potential for them to be at the level Panama is now fairly soon.

  18. Turd Bradley says:

    How is that Will Trapp kid on the team let alone on the field, he played so slow and was always getting in the way, plus his goal was luck although a good strike, plus he still rocks an old beiber haircut like he is One Direction or something.