For the fourth consecutive World Cup, the U.S. U-20 men's national team is headed to the quarterfinals. The road there has been largely straightforward, but after being a bit wasteful in the group stage, the U.S. finally showed their ruthless side in a blowout win over New Zealand.
Led by goals from Owen Wolff, Cade Cowell, Justin Che and the recently-arriving Rokas Pukstas, the U.S. battered New Zealand 4-0 in Tuesday's round-of-16 clash. With the win, the U.S. books a date with either Gambia or Uruguay, who will battle it out on Thursday for the right to be the Americans' quarterfinal opponent.
Both potential opponents will be left with plenty to worry about when it comes to the U.S., as Mikey Varas' side put together their most complete performance of the tournament in the first knockout game. Despite several rotations and two new faces in Pukstas and Kevin Paredes recently arriving in camp, this is a team that is totally humming front front to back.
Defensively, the U.S. have yet to allow a goal in four matches, having been essentially perfect on that side of the ball. And, in the attack, after several wasteful performances in the group stage, the U.S. made sure to put New Zealand to the sword with three second-half goals after being gifted a lead in the opening 45 minutes.
That attacking ruthlessness will bode well for the future. Based on what we've seen, this is a U.S. team that can go toe-to-toe with anyone in this tournament. They've won games in a variety of ways and, on Tuesday, they were as dominant as ever with their most vicious performance of the competition so far.
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