Head coach Darren Bazeley says his New Zealand squad are “ready to give everything” to create history by beating the United States and reaching the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup.
Wednesday’s Round of 16 match (at 5.30am NZT) will be New Zealand’s fourth attempt to reach the last eight at an U-20 tournament.
If they beat the United States, they’ll face either Gambia or Uruguay in a quarter-final on King’s Birthday Monday (NZT).
Bazeley told a media briefing ahead of the game: “On any given day, a small team can beat a big team.”
Going into the do-or-die match against the United States, Bazeley said his squad were already aware of the likely starting line-up but knew the five players who would come off the subs’ bench could play a major part in the outcome, especially if the tie went to extra time or penalties.
Bazeley said six players went into the last game, against Argentina, carrying yellow cards and five had been benched to minimise the risk of players getting a second caution and missing the Round of 16.
Coach Bazeley: ‘They never let their heads go down’
Despite the loss to Argentina, the need to rotate the squad had meant he now had players who had been freshened and ready for the sudden-death game.
Bazeley said the loss to Argentina had been “humbling” for him and the players, but it had taught the players a lot.
“They never let their heads go down; they kept trying,” he said.
Already, the tournament had shown New Zealand players such as Jay Herdman, Ben Wallace and Norman Garbett could turn games with goals, providing they “get their moments in the good areas of the pitch”.
Bazeley said it was up to the team to create as many of those moments as possible.
History favours the United States who are the only nation to reach the quarter-finals of the last three FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cups.
The United States, New Zealand and Uruguay are the only countries to have qualified for the last five U-20 World Cups.
New Zealand’s opponents
The United States qualified for the U-20 World Cup by winning its third consecutive Concacaf U-20 Championship in Honduras.
The side won all seven of its games at that tournament.
Six of the United States squad have already earned call-ups to the full national team, which is currently coached on an interim basis by former All Whites head coach Anthony Hudson.
Striker Cade Cowell, who has scored twice for the United States in their pool games, has three full caps while defender Jonathan Gómez has played two games at senior level.
Goalkeeper Gaga Slonina and defender Caleb Wiley have made their full debuts while defenders Justin Che and Joshua Wynder have been training with the national squad but are yet to win their first caps.
Player to watch: Finn Surman (New Zealand)
Captain of the squad, Surman was outstanding at the centre of the defence in New Zealand’s opening two games at the tournament.
However, in the third game, against Argentina, the Wellington Phoenix defender was substituted, suffering the effects of a calf injury.
Surman’s leadership skills and his experience at senior level (he’s played for the Phoenix A-League team) will be much-needed in this match.
Coach Bazeley says Surman has been having daily physio treatment and was doing everything possible to be fit for the game.
Players to watch: Quinn Sullivan / Jack McGlynn (United States)
The Philadelphia Union duo of Quinn Sullivan and Jack McGlynn are regarded as rising stars in the domestic Major League Soccer competition.
Striker Quinn Sullivan scored six goals when the United States qualified at the Concacaf U-20 Championship in Honduras. He was named in the tournament’s Best XI.
Though only 19, McGlynn has already made more than 50 first-team appearances in the MLS. Through his father, McGlynn is also eligible to represent the Republic of Ireland at senior international level.
Game to be played on Wednesday May 31, 2023
United States v New Zealand
Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, 5.30am (NZT)
How to watch
The game will be broadcast live by Sky Sport in New Zealand or you can watch the free live-stream of the match on the FIFA+ platform.
You can watch the live-stream here:
13 Henry Gray, Ipswich Town, England
21 Alby Kelly-Heald, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
1 Kees Sims, Ljungskile SK, Sweden
4 Isaac Hughes, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
2 Jackson Jarvie, Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand
20 Lukas Kelly-Heald, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
14 Finn Linder, Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada
12 Everton O’Leary, Birkenhead United, New Zealand
3 Adam Supyk, Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand
5 Finn Surman, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
15 Aaryan Raj, Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand
6 Fin Conchie, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
10 Jay Herdman, Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada
7 Noah Karunaratne, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
8 Jackson Manuel, Western Springs, New Zealand
16 Dan McKay, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
9 Oliver Colloty, currently on trial in England
19 Kian Donkers, NEC Nijmegen, Netherlands
17 Oli Fay, Ljungskile SK, Sweden
11 Norman Garbett, Potenza Calcio, Italy
18 Ben Wallace, Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
1 Gaga Slonina (Chelsea, England)
12 Antonio Carrera FC Dallas, Texas)
21 Alex Borto (Fulham, England)
17 Justin Che (Hoffenheim, Germany)
5 Brandan Craig (Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia)
14 Marcus Ferkranus (LA Galaxy, California)
13 Jonathan Gomez (Read Sociedad, Spain)
3 Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United, Atlanta)
4 Josh Wynder (Louisville City, Louisville)
2 Michael Halliday (Orlando City, Florida)
6 Daniel Edelman (captain) (New York Red Bulls, New York)
8 Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia)
18 Obed Vargas (Seattle Sounders, Alaska)
10 Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake, California)
20 Rokas Pukstas (Hadjduk Split, Oklahoma)
16 Owen Wolff (Austin FC, Texas)
15 Niko Tsakiris (San Jose Earthquakes, California)
19 Darren Yapi (Colorado Rapids, Colorado)
9 Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes, California)
7 Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia)
11 Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg, Germany)