For the second straight Under-20 World Cup, the USA is left with a familiar feeling.
The Americans were bounced in the quarterfinals for a second consecutive tournament, falling 2-1 to Venezuela in extra time on Sunday in Jeonju, South Korea. The site of the USA's 2002 World Cup triumph over Mexico wasn't as kind this time around, and the USA's exit follows its quarterfinal loss on penalty kicks to eventual champion Serbia in 2015.
The USA was hoping to reach the semifinal round for the first time since 1989, but its La Vinotinto who are on their way to a first semifinal instead, and deservedly so. Venezuela peppered the USA goal from start to finish, with goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann coming up with a series of big saves, while also receiving help from his goalposts, crossbar and Video Assistant Referee.
Venezuela threatened from the opening minute, forcing Klinsmann into a sensational, full-extension save that pushed a bullet header off a free kick just wide of the post.
Klinsmann made another impressive diving save in the 13th minute, denying Adalberto Peñaranda's rip from distance as Venezuela maintained the early pressure.
VAR, being used at the U-20 World Cup, came to the USA's aid in the 21st minute, when it appeared Venezuela leading scorer Sergio Cordova had hit for the opener. Replay showed a pair of Venezuela players involved with the sequence were offside prior to a deflected shot attempt coming off a U.S. defender and falling to Cordova before his negated strike.
Venezuela continued to pressure in the second half and was inches from the go-ahead goal when a header from Ronaldo Chacon off a corner kick beat Klinsmann but clanged off the crossbar and came out.
Cordova then was denied twice in quick succession just after the hour mark–once by Klinsmann, once by the crossbar. The Venezuela star was played through and tried to pass it by the goalkeeper, only to have him stuff the effort. Off a cross from Ronaldo Lucena soon after, Cordova powered a header off the bar.
On Venezuela's next push, Cordova missed the mark in trying to tuck a shot from the right inside the far post–Venezuela's 15th attempt to the USA's one.
The wildest near-goal for Venezuela was yet to come, though, and it manifested itself in the 73rd minute. Peñaranda was played through down the right and dribbled to the end line before crossing to the goal mouth. The ball came off Cameron Carter-Vickers, then off Klinsmann on the goal line and eventually ricocheted wide of the far post off the rebound, somehow keeping the game scoreless.
Peñaranda thought he was clear and in for an 88th-minute winner, but Eryk Williamson's recovery and tackle heroically blocked the chance, keeping the U.S. alive.
Williamson then nearly found himself on the right side of a winner on the cusp of stoppage time, attempting an audacious volley off his own chest trap following a failed clearance from the goal mouth. He put the chance well high of the goal, though, with the U.S. ending the sequence sparked by substitute Lagos Kunga without anything to show for it.
With momentum on the USA's side in the waning minutes, the Americans kept pushing, and Erik Palmer-Brown came inches from scoring a winner at the death. With the U.S. earning a free kick at the end of regulation, the captain found himself with a free header from six yards out and the goalkeeper off his line, but he couldn't direct it on frame, and the match went to extra time.
Peñaranda finally found Venezuela's breakthrough in the 96th minute, finding space in between two defenders and finishing with a deft right-footed finish off the bounce to beat Klinsmann and make it 1-0. He was pivotal in the sequence's build-up, spraying the ball wide for Samuel Sosa, who served in the return cross for the assist.
Klinsmann bounced back to keep the U.S. within striking range, denying Cordova on two more subsequent opportunities.
The latter one gave Venezuela a corner, though, and Nahuel Ferrarisi converted with a header, making it 2-0 in the 115th minute.
As it would turn out, Venezuela needed that insurance strike. Jeremy Ebobisse broke through for the USA with a looping header off a free kick, tucking it inside the far post in the 117th, setting up a frenetic finish.
The goal snapped Venezuela's shutout streak at 507 minutes, but the USA couldn't find a second in the final seconds, and Venezuela will go on to face the winner of Portugal vs. Uruguay in the semifinals.