Supplied_us_u20_v_river_plate_031 Matt Visinsky
The Dallas Cup

Ben Spencer, Rubio Rubin Lead U.S. to Dallas Cup Win

The United States under-20 men's national team defeated River Plate's U-19 club, 3-2, in its first match of the 2014 Dallas Cup. Josh Deaver is in Texas covering the tournament for American Soccer Now.
BY Josh Deaver Posted
April 14, 2014
12:12 AM
DALLAS—The United States under-20 men’s national team kicked off its Dallas Cup campaign in impressive fashion on Sunday night, defeating River Plate's U-19 club 3-2 at the Cotton Bowl. A brace from Ben Spencer and a goal from Rubio Rubin helped secure the victory for Tab Ramos’ side, which now hold the outright lead in Bracket C of the tournament’s U-19 Super Group.

The Americans opened the scoring off a counter attack in the 15th minute, when Spencer, a striker with Indy Eleven, turned past the River defense and placed a curling right-footed shot in the Argentine goal.

The lead would be short-lived, however. River Plate got on the scoreboard four minutes later when Alan Arario caught the U.S. backline—specifically Shaquell Moore, who struggled early on—sleeping and beat U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen at the far post.

The remainder of the half was a back-and-forth struggle, with both squads getting their fair share of chances. Rubin, U.S. Soccer's 2012 Young Male Athlete of the Year, showed his flash on right wing, providing the sort of spark that no doubt helped him get signed at Eredivisie club FC Utrecht.

River Plate, on the other hand, took advantage of some poor U.S defending and after a few near misses broke through the American defense in the 34th minute. After a sloppy tackle—and yellow card—from UANL Tigres defender and under-20 debutant Jesus Vasquez, River Plate earned a free kick in a dangerous position to the left of the American goal. In the ensuing spot kick, River Plate's Braian Molina out-jumped Lynden Gooch, a Sunderland prospect, to make it 2-1 in favor of the Argentina club.

River continued to threaten, again, mostly off mistimed U.S. defensive endeavors. A 41st-minute foul by Shaquell Moore at the top of the box produced a free kick from the top of the box that nearly snuck in top corner on Steffen, who barely kept it from going over the line. River turned up the defensive intensity as the half wound down, causing more mistakes from the American backline. Two chances in the 43rd and another in stoppage time could’ve changed the complexion of the contest just before intermission, but the Yanks held firm.

The U.S ratcheted up the defensive intensity after the interval. Midfielder Jordan Allen, a Real Salt Lake product, had a strong penalty shout waved off in the 65th minute—perhaps because he fell a bit too easily. As the final quarter-hour approached, Tab Ramos’ squad desperately searched for an equalizer.

Their efforts were rewarded in the 73rd minute when Rubin corralled a long ball over the top and maneuvered between the River backline before finishing over the head of netminder Barga Batalla.

With the score tied at two, the United States began pressing for a game-winner and secured it in the 78th minute when Kelyn Acosta was fouled inside the River Plate penalty area. Spencer took the penalty kick and converted confidently to give the Americans a 3-2 advantage.

River Plate would not go quietly, however. As time ticked away on the four minutes of stoppage time, the Argentines made one last-gasp effort. A simple back-post header appeared to give the visitors a share of the spoils but the line judge ruled the play offside. The call appeared to be inaccurate, but when the final whistle sounded the Americans were ahead 3-2.

“The win puts us in a very good position going forward,” Spencer said after the match. “When you get this level of teams…you've got to come in to battle. We came back from being down and ending up winning the game. It shows good character from us.”

Erik Palmer-Brown, who saw his under-20 debut in the win, echoed Spencer’s sentiments: “Being able to come back as a team took a lot of effort,” he said. “I felt like we were still in it from the get-go—everyone stepped up their ability in the second half.”

The U.S U-20s next face Eintracht Frankfurt on Monday afternoon.

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