The USA twice came from behind to draw 3-3 with Ecuador at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Monday in a thrilling encounter at the Incheon Stadium in Incheon, South Korea.
Hernan Lino and Bryan Cabezas put Ecuador 2-0 up in seven minutes, with Josh Sargent replying either side of the break to pull the scores level. However, Cabezas capitalised on a Jonathan Klinsmann howler to net again.
La Tricolor looked destined to see out the contest until Luca de la Torre struck in the 94th minute to salvage a point.
Ecuador enjoyed the perfect start when they caught the United States on the break after four minutes. Washington Corozo led La Tricolor's quick-fire counter-attack down the left, and he drew in 'keeper Klinsmann before touching the ball to Lino, who calmly tucked home.
Two minutes later, Cabezas enjoyed success down the same flank as he picked up the ball on the left and shrugged off Danny Acosta before lashing in.
Goal USA's Ives Galarcep noted Aaron Herrera's early struggles:
Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves
Defensive shape terrible for the 🇺🇸 early on, right back Aaron Herrera's positioning exploited on both goals.2017-5-22 08:12:40
Ecuador continued to cause the USA with pace and energetic pressing, and it took a perfectly timed sliding tackle from Arsenal youngster Gedion Zelalem in the penalty area to prevent Lino scoring a third.
The Stars and Stripes grew into the contest, though, and Derrick Jones' introduction for the injured Zelalem added solidity and a more physical presence in midfield.
Moments after he came on, the U.S. pulled a goal back when De La Torre regained possession and slipped in Sargent, who beat Jose Cevallos at his near post.
Former USMNT star DaMarcus Beasley offered encouragement to the youngsters:
DaMarcus Beasley @DaMarcusBeasley
Good goal boys @ussoccer_ynt Sargent can score goals. Keep pushing.. Game on!2017-5-22 08:39:57
Team USA followed up Sargent's 36th minute goal with two great chances before the break, but Tyler Adams contrived to miss the target from Herrera's cross and Cevallos made a smart stop to deny Sargent a second time.
Sargent pulled his side level shortly after half-time, though, when he nodded home Brooks Lennon's outstanding cross at the back post.
Ecuador responded well to the setback, and Klinsmann was twice called into action to deny them with two good saves.
American Soccer Now's Brian Sciaretta remarked on their troubles in defence:
Brian Sciaretta @BrianSciaretta
The United States can win this game but that backline desperately needs to settle down2017-5-22 09:20:11
It was Klinsmann at fault for La Tricolor going ahead once again, though. Just moments after a heroic stop, he handed the ball straight to Cabezas while under pressure from Ecuador's other forward players, and he took full advantage.
Despite Cabezas scoring with almost half an hour of normal time remaining, the U.S. struggled to threaten an equaliser until right at the death, when Ecuador failed to clear another excellent cross from Lennon and De La Torre reacted quickest to guide home with a half-volley.
The USA will play Senegal in their second Group F match on Thursday, while Ecuador will take on Saudi Arabia.