Jordan Allen played an unexpected 80 minutes in an exciting 1-0 win for the United States over Colombia in the Under-20 World Cup round of 16.
Allen hadn't been selected from the outset of the match, but only five minutes in, LA Galaxy starlet Bradford Jamieson IV went down with a serious injury that required him to be stabilized with a neck brace and stretchered off. Allen replaced him six minutes later, with play resuming following a long delay.
Shortly after coming on, Allen moved to the left flank in an hybrid wide midfield role. Early action saw him dropping deep in an attempt to build some meaningful possession for the U.S., but the Americans too often opted for a long-ball approach. Still, when play did build down his side, he was involved, sending in a particularly good cross for a Paul Arriola header that was sent well over the bar.
Throughout, Allen and Arriola switched flanks, and while the U.S. did still continue to struggle to create any sense of continuity between the midfield and the sole forward, Rubio Rubin, things did improve — although the goal to put the U.S. up in the 58th minute came from some old-fashioned
But as the match wore on, Allen eventually ended up taking that sole central role, with Rubin moving out wide in yet another tactical shift for the Americans. His approach looked more akin to a hybrid attacking midfield role with some hold-up play injected in for good measure, which suited the RSL man well.
That shift served as a more defensive maneuver than an attacking one, and it was nearly for naught after left back Kellyn Acosta was sent off for a second yellow card with ten minutes to go, conceding a penalty along the way. That penalty was saved spectacularly by American goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
The win was the first for the U.S. at the U-20 World Cup since 1997; they'll now move on to the quarterfinals, where they'll face Serbia.