SAN JUAN, Argentina (Saturday, May 20, 2023) – The USA U-20 Men’s National Team began its 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup with a 1-0 win over 2019 third-placed Ecuador thanks to a late game-winner from Jonathan Gómez.
Real Salt Lake’s Diego Luna was named to the starting XI and established his presence immediately in USA’s attack. The USA set the pace in the first 15 minutes, controlling possession and threatening in the attacking third. Luna was extremely active in the first 45 minutes, pressing high and putting pressure on the Ecuadorian backline while covering a lot of ground and showing some individual dribbling on the wing. The Americans’ best chance of the first half came in the 22nd minute, but Obed Vargas was ruled offside just before firing a shot into the net.
Vargas also came up big on the defensive end, clearing a dangerous pass off the goal line in the 31st minute. Another opportunity for the USA in first-half stoppage time was ruled offside, and the two teams were deadlocked heading into the break.
Ten minutes into the second half, Luna flashed his skills again, making a one-touch turn-and-pass to set up Caleb Wiley from close range, but his shot was deflected wide. Luna almost opened the scoring himself four minutes later when his high pressure paid off, pouncing on a deflected clearance and sending a bouncing shot from outside the 18-yard box inches from an empty net with Ecuadorian goalkeeper Gilmar Napa outside his line.
In the 83rd minute, Darren Yapi had a one-on-one opportunity after beating his defender, but he was denied by a charging Napa. Finally, in the 90+3. minute, the USA capitalized on their dominant performance and scored a game-winning goal off Jonathan Gómez’s left-footed volley from outside the 18-yard box, his shot sailing into the top-right corner.
Luna played the full 90 minutes, spurring the USA’s attack and showing signs of brilliance in tight spaces. He was sent off in the 90′ +1., moments before the USA found the winner.
The U-20 USA Youth National Team continues its World Cup campaign on Tuesday, May 23 at 12 MT against Fiji in the second match of Group B. The game will be available on FS2, Universo and Telemundo (see USSoccer.com for more details).