Andy Ruiz wonder-goal steals the victory from the U.S.

Under-20 CONCACAF Championship (Group A): The United States dominates against Guatemala, but blows the narrow lead late to settle for a 1-1 draw.

By Jorge Belon, Managing Editor

It took a miraculous, well-hit volley from 18-year-old Guatemalan midfielder Andy Ruiz at the 89th minute to steal the three points from the Americans in the opening of the Under-20 CONCACAF Championship on Friday afternoon in Jamaica.

“In all honesty I did not even think about it and it just went in,” a smiling Ruiz told CONCACAF after scoring the tying goal. “I mean honestly a goal like that happens one out of every 10 attempts, and when it happens you just got to celebrate. I mean we just tied one of the best teams in the region so we have to celebrate.”

Guatemala was awarded a late corner kick and Diego Alvarez sent a pass smack into the middle of the penalty box; the U.S. cleared it with a header and assumed the danger was over. The ball floated in the air and Ruiz ran to the spot and before the ball touch the surface, the young crafty Guatemalan blasted a shot into the roof of the net to tie the match at 1-1.

It was only their seventh shot of the match–compared to the U.S. 15 shots–but the well executed volley will send the Yanks back to the drawing board as they attempt to qualify to their second consecutive Under-20 World Cup.

The Red White and Blue nearly played a perfect match in Kingston, Jamaica as they dominated the game from the very start. The team congested the Guatemala attack and kept their defense in the trenches for the entire 90 minutes. The American wingers John Reguejo and Shaquell Moore gave the Chapines headaches the entire afternoon with their speed, footwork and crosses.

However, a combination of the Guatemalan goalie Nicholas Hagen‘s saves and the Yanks blowing opportunities left and right kept the game scoreless. The Stars and Stripes failed to convert on numerous passes in the final third and left many goal-scoring opportunities stranded.

The Americans would have to wait till the second half in the 59th minute to break the deadlock. Six-foot center back Cameron Carter-Vickers received a direct pass from Emerson Hyndman corner, soared in the air, and headed the ball towards the upper right hand corner of the net to make it 1-0 in the U.S. favor.

Carters-Vickers first goal for the Under-20 national team seemed destined to give the Americans three points. The U.S. were generating chances with their passing, but they failed to test the Central American goalie, and Guatemala was just hanging on for a 1-0 defeat until Ruiz’ last-minute wonder goal. 

The tie gave Guatemala only their fourth positive result against the Americans in 11 overall matches, in the Under-20 level.

“I think we dominated for the majority of the match,” Carter-Vickers told CONCACAF after the game. “I think we played well and defended well. I was personally happy with my goal but disappointed to not get the victory, but we still have four more matches to rebound. So I think if we play as good as we did today we will be fine…Guatemala’s goal was just a good goal you can’t really do much about that.”

The Americans will attempt to rebound against group-leading Panama on Sunday at Kingston.

Highlights provided by US Soccer and CONCACAF,


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