USA head coach Tab Ramos (center) hugs Gedion Zelalem as the team celebrates after a FIFA U-20 World Cup, round of 16 win over Colombia on June 10, 2015, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Rubio Rubin’s second goal of the tournament and a huge performance by goalkeeper Zack Steffen helped lift 10-man United States to a 1-0 win over Colombia in a 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup, round of 16 encounter at Westpac Stadium on Wednesday.
A meeting with Serbia on Sunday awaits as the Americans earned their first quarterfinal berth since 2007 and fourth overall.
“The match was very close and had fought,” United States head coach Tab Ramos said. “Both teams could have won it and our opponents pushed us all the way to the final whistle.”
Steffen made three saves, the biggest coming in the 83rd minute, thwarting Jarlan Barrera from the penalty spot after Kellyn Acosta fouled Rodin Quinones in the box and was sent off for his second bookable offense. The 20-year-old custodian, who joined Germany’s SC Freiburg earlier this year, dived to his right to get a hand on the attempt before the ball was cleared from danger.
The stop preserved the USA’s first clean sheet in a U-20 World Cup knockout round match in 12 years, when it defeated Ivory Coast, 2-0, also in the round of 16.
“I’m very happy and satisfied with my team’s performance,” Ramos added. “Above all, of course, I’ve got to mention our goalkeeper. He held on to our win against a dominant Colombian side.”
Colombia kept pushing for the equalizer and it nearly came one minute later, but midfielder Paul Arriola headed the ball off the line on another Barrera shot.
“They never gave up,” finished Ramos. “But we did everything in our power to stop them.”