France converted a controversial second-half penalty, while Luis Gil missed his chance to equalize from the spot, but the Santos Laguna man salvaged a point for the USA.The U.S Under-20 national team bounced back from a lopsided opening defeat in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, tying France 1-1 in Istanbul Monday to stay in the hunt for berth in the knockout stage.
Santos Laguna and USA forward Daniel Cuevas came off the bench and scored an 85th-minute equalizer, rifling home a loose ball following a Luis Gil free kick to provide the first point for Tab Ramos' side after a 4-1 loss to Spain on Friday.
The result looked to have been decided from the penalty spot prior to Cuevas' goal, with each nation being granted an iffy call in the second half and an opportunity to score from 12 yards. France converted its chance through Yaya Sonogo, while Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil had his saved.
U.S. center back Javan Torre was the guilty party for France's penalty in the 47th minute, taking down Dimitri Foulquier at the edge of the area. Despite replays showing the foul occurred just outside the area, France was granted the spot kick, and Sonogo, who is reportedly set to sign with Arsenal, beat Cody Cropper -- despite the Southampton goalkeeper getting his hands to the ball -- for his second goal of the competition.
The USA was able to carve out a couple of chances in an improved overall showing compared to the tournament opener. LA Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal had the team's best chance in the first half, heading off target after being set up by Monterrey forward Alonso Hernandez. Mario Rodriguez then had a goal waved off in the 60th minute, as he was offside before lofting a ball over French goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
Gil had a golden chance to pull the USA level in the 65th minute, after Rodriguez was tripped up in the area and earned a penalty for the Americans. Areola dove to his left and stuffed his penalty, and moments later Jean-Christophe Bahebeck hit the crossbar, preventing France from completely capitalizing on the miss.
"I don't think we had a great control of the game tonight," France coach Pierre Mankowski said. "It feels a bit strange, because the U.S. team was hardly dangerous. But they had situations they should have never had. We conceded a penalty and a free kick, which led to their goal."
With the score still 1-0, the stage was set for Cuevas to play hero. Gil lined up a free kick from a right-sided angle and bent it into the center of the box. The ball took a deflection to Cuevas, who calmly redirected it inside the left post to level the score.
"I feel like they were confused," Cuevas said. "They couldn't get the ball out and luckily it took a bounce my way and I got to push it in."
The USA faces Ghana in the group stage finale on Thursday in Kayseri, still alive for a berth in the next stage as either a second-place or third-place finisher from Group A. The top four third-place teams cement places in the knockout round in addition to the top two teams in each of the six groups.