11915_isi_gallromain_usmntu20mj071814177 Michael Janosz/isiphotos.com
U.S. Under-20 Team

Young Yanks Beat Jamaica 2-0 As Gall Nails Penalties

The U.S. under-20 men's national team dominated Jamaica, 2-0, but couldn't manage to score a goal during the run of play. The young Americans need a result on Wednesday against Trinidad & Tobago.
BY Josh Deaver Posted
January 19, 2015
1:27 PM

Badly needing a win to salvage its already-precarious World Cup qualification campaign, the United States under-20 men’s national team secured a vital three points in a 2-0 win over tournament hosts Jamaica on Sunday evening. Two penalty kicks from Romain Gall, the tournament’s top scorer, powered the Yanks to a less-than-convincing win, an Tab Ramos' team now awaits a must-not-lose match against Trinidad and Tobago to close out group play on Wednesday.

Gall converted the first of his two spot kick tries in the 30th minute and put the final result beyond doubt 20 minutes before the final whistle.

The win leaves the Americans with seven points, but does not provide an outright advantage in preparation for Wednesday's matchup with Trinidad and Tobago (5:30pm ET, Fox Sports 2). With the first tie-breaker being head-to-head results, the Yanks must pick up at least one point to secure third place in Group A. With four points, tie-breaker scenarios would mean Trinidad and Tobago could still advance with a win over the Americans.

"The team made a great effort and I’m very happy with the performance," Ramos said after the match. "I wish that with all the chances we create that we could score a few more goals and put games away early. But overall this was a very difficult match. Obviously the home team, when they’re on the verge of getting eliminated, they’re always very tough. So it was a difficult match and I’m glad that we came out on top.”

Fresh off a dominant 8-0 win over Aruba, Ramos deployed a similar lineup and tactical approach against the Reggae Boyz on Sunday, utilizing the tidy midfield combination of Emerson Hyndman and Russell Canouse with Gall and Tommy Thompson once again on the wing. Shaq Moore and Matt Miazga likewise returned to their familiar roles on the backline, after starting on the bench against Aruba.

Despite the continuity, finishing continued to haunt the Americans for a majority of the match, with chances going to waste off of nearly every American attacker. Gall and Hyndman both had strikes saved inside the opening 20 minutes—to go along with several promising movements being squandered by a poor final pass. With the U.S. controlling the tempo of the match, chances came frequently and the contest looked like a carbon copy of the opening match against Guatemala that eventually led to a draw.

“We fought hard together," Canouse said. "We got the three points, which were important, and I think we can use this moving into the next game—and hopefully the next two games. The team worked well defensively, and offensively we countered quickly, and the ref called two penalties that we were able to convert.

"Hopefully we can keep the momentum going into the next game.”

The first penalty came off an inspired pass from Gall, who threaded a through ball past four Jamaican defenders to the feet of Thompson who was felled with a WWF-style clothesline by defender Allando Brown for the penalty. Gall calmly converted with a stutter-step penalty kick.

Since Brown was the last defender on the play, he should have received a red card. But referee Marlon Mejia only gave the defender a yellow, infuriating the U.S. bench.

In the 67th minute, another clear red card was ignored when Jamaican goalkeeper Nicholas Nelson leveled Bradford Jameison after the Los Angeles Galaxy striker intercepted a poor back pass. Jamieson spent several minutes sprawled out on the exquisitely poor turf of the Montego Bay Sports Complex—where the final will be played—before Gall stepped and delivered his second PK on the contest.


  • I’ve mentioned this before, but Emerson Hyndman is so, so good. The heartbeat of the American attack, he has looked like a true international-caliber talent. Against Jamaica, despite the lack of scoring initiative from the Reggae Boyz, Hyndman worked wonderfully with Canouse, with every pass acting as a relief valve. Able to get involved in several American scoring opportunities, the only question is how long before he is a legitimate senior team player.

  • Kellyn Acosta will miss the remainder of the tournament with an injured knee—the same injury that forced him to miss several months with FC Dallas in 2014. This is no doubt a major concern for Ramos but luckily Canouse, wearing the captain’s armband, has been immense over the last two matches. Complimenting Hyndman wonderfully, Canouse has done the dirty work, making a strong case to start the remainder of the tournament.

  • Despite two consecutive American wins, it's important to remember that they came against Aruba and Jamaica. I mean, c’mon—if the Americans are having trouble with this level of competition they will be in for a rude awakening if they make it to New Zealand. There is much work to be done.

    ASN Contributing Editor Josh Deaver is a former academic turned soccer obsessive. Follow him on Twitter already.
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