Paul Arriola (#7) and Emerson Hyndman (#8) of the USA look dejected as Cameron Carter-Vickers attempts to console them after falling to Serbia in the FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinals on June 14, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, New Zealand – The United States bowed out of the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup on Sunday, falling 6-5 in a penalty kick shootout after playing Serbia to a 0-0 draw in the quarterfinals at North Harbour Stadium.
Serbia advances to take on Mali, while Brazil meets Senegal in the semifinals Wednesday.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said U.S. head coach Tab Ramos. “We knew Serbia are a very tactical team, really patient, but I thought we countered them well. We were very prepared for their game plan and gave ourselves quite a few opportunities to win.”
Nemanja Antonov had Serbia’s best scoring chance of the first half in the 38th minute, but goalkeeper Zack Steffen parried his shot from the top left of the 18-yard box over the net.
Minutes later, the USA’s Tommy Thompson -- making his first start of the tournament -- had a glorious opportunity to break the stalemate only to place his right-footed effort wide of the right post from 10-yards out.
Steffen again came up big in the 68th minute, diving to his right to push aside Andrija Zivkovic’s free kick from 24 yards out.
With nothing separating the sides after 120 minutes -- as was the case in two of the other three quarterfinal games – matters were decided on penalty kicks.
Rubio Rubin stepped up to take the first attempt, but Serbia’s Predrag Rajkovic made the save. Sasa Zdjelar buried his opportunity to give Serbia the lead after the first round.
Desevio Payne, Arriola, Emerson Hyndman and Gedion Zelalem scored for the United States. After Stanisa Mandic missed the target completely on the Serbians' second attempt , Srdan Babic, Marko Grujic and Andrija Zivkovic converted their opportunities.
Joel Soñora hit the post with his chance for the Americans and then Rajkovic called his own number for what could have been the clincher, but Steffen conjured the critical save.
Marko Delgado (USA) and Antonov (Serbia) each converted to level the shootout at five.
An attempt over the bar by Cameron Carter-Vickers opened the door again for Serbia, but Steffen closed it by saving on Milos Veljkovic.
Rajkovic stopped John Requejo’s shot and Nemanja Maksimovic buried a rocket into the upper left corner of the net to win it for Serbia, 6-5.