The USA left it late but took control after the hour mark in a chippy battle against Fiji to win 3-0. Cade Cowell marked his return from suspension with the team’s second goal and an absolute banger from distance that put the game away.
The game ignited Cowell’s performance. It took until the 66th minute for Cowell to assist Diego Luna for the opening goal before Luna returned the favor with Cowell scoring his rocket in the 88th minute. Then, just before the final whistle, Caleb Wiley scored to add a little padding to the USA’s goal difference, which would matter if Slovakia loses to Ecuador but defeats the USA. Micky Varas must be prepared for anything, but the goal now is simple. Just win and you’re done.
With the team struggling to score in their opening game against Ecuador, the difference Cowell made on his return from suspension is clear. Hopefully the team will now only improve as the WC continues. They are match-tested after winning the Concacaf U-20 Championship and it has helped so far that the team has to wait until the second half to score in both of their games so far in this tournament.
For players like Cowell, strong results when on the fringes of the senior team could also earn a Gold Cup look. There is always an incentive to perform well with a trophy on the line, but the attacking positions in the senior team are wide open and this is where Cowell’s creativity and ingenuity come into play.
Even with the addition of Folarin Balogun in the attacking pool, there is always a need for players who can create their own chances in space. It’s something that San Jose has helped mold Cowell to do, but he needs to turn that talent into goals. With 0 goals and one assist this season, it is a far cry from the eight goals and eight assists he has registered in league play over the last two years. But at just 19, the sky’s the limit for what he can do with this team, which is one of many reasons why the future is bright for the 2026 World Cup on home soil.