This run promised to be different for the U.S. under-20 men's national team. After storming through the group stage without giving up a goal, the U.S. battered New Zealand, 4-0, to book their spot in the quarterfinals. Waiting them was Uruguay, a team that had been pushed to the limit by Gambia and would enter the quarterfinal on short rest and shorthanded.
But this run, as it turns out, wasn't different. In fact, it ended the exact same way the three previous tournaments did: with quarterfinal heartbreak and a team left wondering what could have been.
The U.S. defense, perfect through the first four games, imploded in the 2-0 defeat to Uruguay, handing the winners two tournament-ending goals. The first came on a mistake from Justin Che, whose sliding effort left the backline completely exposed for an Anderson Duarte finish in the 21st minute.
The second, though, was even worse, as Josh Wynder deflected home a relatively harmless cross, and it was the youngster's own goal that effectively ended the team's tournament run.
They'll feel that run ended prematurely and, in some ways, they'll be right. While Uruguay were the better team, they were never truly in control, but they sure did take advantage of the U.S. group's catastrophic mistakes.
It's because of those mistakes that another group of American players have failed to advance past this round of the tournament and, with Israel waiting in the semifinals, the U.S. would have had hopes of winning it all. Instead, they'll head home knowing that they proved to be their own undoing.
GOAL rates the U.S. players from Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades