June 14, 2015
OUT ON PENALTIES
U.S. U20 Men fall to Serbia
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team saw its run in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup come to an end at North Harbour Stadium after falling in penalty kicks to Serbia. The game went scoreless through regulation and extra time, but Serbia ultimately prevailed with a 6-5 shootout victory to advance to the semifinals.
Stout defensive performances from both sides limited scoring opportunities to a premium and the result was a 0-0 game when the whistle blew to signal the end of regulation. In extra time, play opened up, but valiant efforts from USA goalkeeper Zack Steffen and Serbian goalie Predrag Rajkovic held the 0-0 score line through the additional 30 minutes.
After a back and forth affair, where both the U.S. and Serbia survived must-make and must-save scenarios, it was Nemanja Maksimovic who sent a rocket of a PK into the upper left corner to propel Serbia on to the next round of the tournament.
The USA started on the backfoot in the penalty phase, when Rubio Rubin had his shot saved by Predrag Rajkovic. Sasa Zdjelar followed the Rubin miss by blasting his PK into the top right to put Serbia up 1-0.
Desevio Payne sent a rocket into the left side on the USA's next attempt to level 1-1. Stanisa Mandic missed the target completely on the Serbians' second attempt, which kept the score.
Paul Arriola punched in the third attempt by smashing in a shot to the left of the goalie. Steffen guessed right on Srdan Babic's attempt, Serbia's third, but it rolled under him to level at 2-2.
The captain, Emerson Hyndman ripped in attempt No. 4 to put the U.S. up 3-2, but Marko Grujic hit in the Serb's fourth attempt to tie it 3-3.
Gedion Zelalem sent in his PK into the right side for the fourth-straight score for the USA and then Andrija Zivkovic scored the must-make fifth attempt to keep Serbia alive.
Joel Soņora went for the upper right corner on U.S. attempt No. 6 but hit his shot off the post. Switching from goalkeeper to shooter, Rajkovic took Serbia's sixth attempt, which could've been the game-winner, but Steffen made a diving save to preserve U.S. hopes.
Marko Delgado rolled in the next attempt to put the U.S. up 5-4, but once again Serbia kept pace when Nemanja Antonov converted to tie it at 5-5.
Cameron Carter-Vickers then sent his shot over the bar, but on Serbia's next PK Steffen came up big again to keep the U.S. alive when he saved Milos Veljkovic's shot.
After John Requejo's attempt was saved by Rajkovic, Nemanja Maksimovic sent a rocket into the upper left corner and out of Steffen's reach to win the game for Serbia 6-5.
Steffan kept the United States in the game, making some big saves as the Serbs outshot the Americans 19-8.
In the 38th minute: Serbia's Nemanja Antonov received a pass at the top of the box and decided to promptly rip a shot from 20 yards out. The left footed strike spun and rose from right to left and Steffen jumped and bumped it over the bar.
Steffan made a diving save in the 68th minute on a free kick from 24 yards out, a range that they had buried from earlier in the tournament. Mijat Gacinovic's strike was low and hard and bent toward the lower left corner of goal. Steffen dove and just reached the ball, knocking it out of bounds and preserving the clean sheet.
in the 82nd minute Serbia once again attacked from the left and Stanisa Mandic freed himself up for a shot from the left. He sent a rocket of a shot across the mouth of the goal and towards the upper right corner, but Steffen made a diving save away where it was picked up by a U.S. defender
The semifinal round will be played on Wednesday, June 17, at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, where Serbia faces Mali and Brazil takes on Senegal.