U.S. stuns France with second-half comeback to advance to the FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinals

BYDGOSZCZ, POLAND - JUNE 04:  Sebastian Soto of the United States (9) celebrates after scoring his team's second goal with Justin Rennicks during the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Round of 16 match between France and USA at Bydgoszcz Stadium on June 04, 2019 in Bydgoszcz, Poland. (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Sebastian Soto (left) scored twice as the U.S. under-20 men's national team came back to stun France, 3-2, on Tuesday and advance to the quarterfinals of the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland. (Lars Baron/Getty)

The United States appeared to be heading out of the FIFA U-20 World Cup on Tuesday after falling behind France early in the second half of their round of 16 meeting in Poland.

Then Sebastian Soto scored with just over a quarter-hour remaining to pull the Americans level before Justin Rennicks found an 83rd-minute winner, completing an unlikely comeback for Tab Ramos’ team over one of the pre-tournament favorites.

With the victory, the U.S. will move on to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face Ecuador on Saturday at 11:20 a.m ET on Fox Sports 2.

The U.S. was outplayed early on Tuesday. But Soto opened the scoring in the first half against the run of play when he coolly finished off a slick pass from Richie Ledezma:

France pulled one back before halftime through Lyon prospect Amine Gouiri, and Les Bleus took the lead just 10 minutes after the intermission following some good work by fleet-footed PSG winger Moussa Diaby, who blew past U.S. defender Aboubacar Keita and clanged his effort off the post.

Nabil Alioui beat U.S. defender Sergino Dest to the rebound, however, to give France a deserved lead. Moments before Alioui’s strike, Keita appeared to handle a Diaby shot inside the box, but no penalty was given.

Still, France was rolling. They’d enjoyed almost 70 percent of the possession and seemed more likely to score a third than to concede an equalizer. But the tide began to turn around the hour mark, when Ramos went to his bench and brought attackers Rennicks and Uly Llanez on as subs. Ten minutes later, Soto and Tim Weah combined for the tying goal:

The strike seemed to unsettle the French team and, with momentum on their side and the prospect of extra time looming, the U.S. went for the jugular. Rennicks provided the dagger:

The triumph means that the U.S. has reached the quarterfinals at three consecutive U-20 World Cups. Given the opposition, this ranks among the most famous wins for the Americans in the history of the competition, along with victories over Lionel Messi-led Argentina in 2005 and also against Brazil and Uruguay in 2007.

Tuesday’s result is even more impressive given that the Americans were without suspended starters Chris Durkin and Alex Mendez, who will both be eligible for Saturday’s match after serving one-game bans for yellow card accumulation.

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