Americans strike through

Team USA Celebrates winning goal in the extra time of action between USA and Uruguay at the...

Team USA Celebrates winning goal in the extra time of action between USA and Uruguay at the National Soccer Stadium July 11th, 2007. (Sun Media /Dave Abel)

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 6:27 AM ET

Thomas Rongen didn't wait for the interpreter to tell the Spanish media the reason his short-handed Americans came back to beat Uruguay 2-1 in extra time last night at BMO Field.

"Cojones," he said in slang for courage and fortitude. "We showed a willingness to sacrifice."

Yes, cojones made up for a lot of shortcomings for the favoured United States in the first knockout match of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup. A scoring machine and undefeated (2-0-1) in group play, the Americans were bamboozled by the hungry South Americans and a pro-Uruguay crowd for 87 minutes, about 40 of those minutes minus injured striker Josmer Altidore.

But an own-goal by Mathias Cardaccio tied it and Michael Bradley's stinger in the 107th minute put the U.S. through to meet Austria in the quarter-finals.

"I'm not suggesting we've arrived (as a soccer powerhouse), but against Poland, Brazil and tonight, we played some classic technical football," Rongen said. "We struggled, but great teams find a way."

Rongen lost Altidore, one of three Americans with Freddy Adu and Danny Szetela to have three goals in the Canada-hosted tourney. He had begun the game with second string goalie Brian Perk after Chris Seitz suffered a thigh injury against Brazil. Perk's one mistake, mishandling a soft header that Luis Suarez converted, did not faze him in making seven other saves before 19,526 at BMO.

Altidore strained his left leg just a couple of minutes into the second half on a questionable sideline tackle from Martin Caceres. Medical personnel worked on him for a couple of minutes and he tried continuing, only to collapse a few feet away. He hopes to play against Austria.

Altidore is seen by some as American soccer's Sidney Crosby, just 17 and growing. Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston made him 17th pick in the Major League Soccer draft in 2006 when he coached the New York Red Bulls.

Szetela was trying to find Altidore's substitute, Andre Akpan, with a nice cross when Cardaccio's great attempt at a foot save went in instead. The smallish Perk stood tall with some big saves, helped by a Juan Manuel Diaz header off the post. With penalty kicks looming, Adu's corner kick went to Dax McCarty and his shot bounced through to midfielder Bradley, who was without a goal in three games of group play.

"It was a tight game, but to be a good team, you have to survive those kinds of games," Bradley said. "You want to be able to look everyone in the eye in the dressing room."

A scuffle at the end of the game threatened to get out of hand, as Uruguay's star, Edinson Cavani, tried to fight a couple of Americans, but the coaches and FIFA officials intervened.


Videos

Photos