CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND – JUNE 14: Mali team mates react during the FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 Quarter Final match between Mali and Germany at Christchurch Stadium on June 14, 2015 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

U-20 World Cup Rewind — Quarter-finals

With the 2015 U-20 World Cup taking place at crazy hours here in the United States, we at 32 Flags are happy to be your guide to all that is the U-20 World Cup. Consider this series a refresher course on all that took place while you were likely asleep. You’re welcome.

A day of penalties, a day of few goals, a day of immense drama. Three games go to penalties. Two African teams (Mali & Senegal) unexpectedly advance. Two favorites (Germany & Portugal) trounced. One Team USA out on a penalty shootout despite herculean efforts from the team.

Germany out, Mali in. Without a question, Mali’s victory over Germany (4-3 on penalties) was the biggest surprise of the night. Before this game, the German side was 4-0 with a 17-2 goal difference; Mali barely got out of the group stage in third place.

USA 0 – 0 Serbia, Serbia wins on penalties (6-5)

What a tense game throughout. The general pattern was that the USA would dominate possession for stretches, but never really generate a scoring chance. Serbia would win possession somehow and mount a quick attack. During the second half, these quick attacks turned dangerous. USA relied heavily on Zack Steffan, who made several excellent saves. Truly incredible that the match stayed scoreless as long as it did.

Immense back-line play from Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers. Reminder: Carter-Vickers is only 17. Even though the attack failed to score a goal, Tommy Thompson and Rubio Rubin looked especially dangerous.

Drama in the penalties: The teams tied through five. In the USA’s 6th attempt, Joel Sonora painstakingly hit the post. Amazingly, Zack Steffan saved the game and Joel Sonora’s sanity with a massive save against his goalkeeping opponent.

Tragically, the USA’s best player of the night–Carter-Vickers–skied his penalty attempt. Then Zack Steffan saved the game again.

But it just was not to be. A weak penalty from the USA was followed up be a powerful blast from Serbia. And with that, the USA bows out of the tournament. No shame though. This team played incredibly well and exceeded most people’s expectations. Keep on eye out at 32 Flags for more reaction, analysis, and comments on the USA’s promising run into the U-20 Quarter-Finals.

Brazil 0 – 0 Portugal, Brazil win on penalties (3-1)

And thus in Portugal, one of the tournament favorites exits early. But there’s never any shame losing out to Brazil. This was a rough game, all told. Few on-target attempts (eight total in 120+ minutes), incredibly poor finishing from Portugal, and fifty fouls between the teamsMany may say Portugal lost this game on their own, but all told, Brazil won this game by grinding it out. That and relying on Portugal to both their penalties

Mali 1 – 1 Germany, Mali win on penalties (4-3)

Mali Goal: S. Coulibaly (58′); Germany Goal: Brandt (38′)

Amazing. Who saw this coming? I guess we all should have once Mali trounced Ghana 3-0 in the previous round, but they really took it to Germany. Nearly even possession, more shots… it took a while, but we now see that this Mali club is for real. As an aside, it would be great for Fox commentators to start reference the skill of the Mali players and quit calling them “athletic.”

Whatever. Check out Kone’s post-kick spin move. Cool as hell.


Uzbekistan 0 – 1 Senegal

Senegal Goal: M. Thiam (77′) A very evenly matched game with Senegal finally squeezing out a well deserved goal late. Not much action to speak of thought, as this was a rather conservative match where both sides sat deep. Either way, Africa has two teams in the semi-finals. Senegal will face a tough match in Brazil. In the group stages Senegal lost 3-0 to the Portugal squad that Brazil just defeated.

[h/t Derek Tang]

U-20 World Cup Semifinals — June 17 (the night of June 16)

Brazil v. Senegal, Midnight EST

Mali v. Serbia, 2:30 AM EST

About Josh Howard

Josh Howard is a PhD Candidate in Public History at Middle Tennessee State University where he writes about empathy, museums, and visitor studies. He is also a massive DC United fan and serves as a co-editor for For more, check out