The United States Under-20 National Team wrapped up an impressive preliminary qualifying round for the U-20 World Cup with a smooth 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Puebla, Mexico on Friday night.
Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Jose Villareal headed home the winner an hour into the match after taking a great cross from Luis Gil.
Villareal and Gil were both the standout performers, not only on Friday night, but through the entire preliminary round of qualifiers.
Real Salt Lake's Gil, from Garden Grove, California, has been the most recognizable name throughout all of the United States' U-20 qualifiers. His call up to the senior Men's National Team is not far away. Great on crosses, with pace and playmaking ability, Gil executes coach Tab Ramos' game plan flawlessly.
Southampton goalkeeper Cody Cropper also looks the part moving forward. Already at just 20 years old, Cropper is seeing games for Southampton's youth squad. A steady hand in back, Cropper could be the guy who the United States will have to seriously consider as a number one option once Tim Howard steps aside if Cropper's trajectory continues to trend up.
The red, white and blue will now move into the quarterfinals where they will take on Canada, who finished second in a group that consisted of Canada and Nicaragua, on February 26th.