The U.S. Under-20 National Team stayed in contention to advance from the group stage of the FIFA U-20 World Cup with a 1-1 draw against France on Monday.
France's Yaya Sanogo scored on a questionable penalty kick early in the second half to give the European's the lead. The U.S., after having their own penalty kick attempt saved, was brough back to life when substitude Daniel Cuevas scored the equalizer with five minutes to go in the match.
Colorado Rapids defender Shane O'Neill returned to the U.S. starting lineup and went the full 90. O'Neill was forced to sit out the opener - a 4-1 loss to Spain - due to a carry-over suspension after he received a red card in his last FIFA match, the final of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship against Mexico in March.
Good battle against France good to get a result... Appreciate all the messages!— Shane ONeill (@Shaneone27) June 24, 2013
With the draw the U.S. sits in third place behind Spain and France heading into the final match of group play against Ghana on June 27 (11 a.m. MT). The first and second place teams in each of the six groups and the four best third-place teams will advance to the round of 16.
Tab Ramos' men began the game under immediate pressure but defended better than they had in the loss to Spain on Friday. US goalkeeper Cody Cropper still had to come up with a handful of quality saves to prevent the Americans from falling behind, including on a blistering shot in the 17th minute, but they managed to go into halftime without conceding a goal despite struggling offensively and being on the back foot for much of the opening 45 minutes.
The end of the first half showed some promise for the US, as Luis Gil had a good look on goal against a disciplined France team that was poorly taken. But it was France who came out ouf the intermission with the momentum, and Les Bleus were given a penalty kick in the 47th minute when center back Javan Torre was called for a foul that replays showed was outside the Americans' 18-yard box.
France took full advantage of the opportunity, with Sanogo beating Cropper with a hard shot that the US goalkeeper got a hand on but couldn't keep out of the net.
Cropper was able to deny Sanogo from the run of play near the 60-minute mark, though, making a pivotal stop that opened the door for the US to earn a penalty kick in the 64th minute. The referee pointed to the spot after forward Mario Rodriguez went down in the box, despite replays showing little to no contact, but Gil was unable to put the ensuing spot kick past goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.
France were the ones cursing their luck shortly thereafter, as a shot from Jean-Cristophe Bahebeck soared past Cropper but rifled off the crossbar.
Their inability to put the US away proved costly. After Gil took a free kick five minutes from the death, several French defenders failed to properly clear the ball and Cuevas pounced on it for the tying goal, rifling a loose ball into the back of the net in the 85th minute.