Denys Popov scored on a header off a corner kick in the 51st minute, and Ukraine beat the United States, 2-1, Friday at Bielsko Biala, Poland, in the Americans’ opener at the Under-20 World Cup.
Serhii Buletsa put Ukraine ahead in the 26th minute. Heorhii Tsitaishvili played a long pass from before the midfield stripe to Buletsa. Defender Sergino Dest went up with Buletsa but didn’t get his head on the ball, which bounced toward the net. Buletsa ran onto the ball and volleyed past goalkeeper Brady Scott from 10 yards.
Brandon Servania tied the score six minutes later, capping a series of swift passes.
Dest played the ball ahead to Servania, who tapped it to Konrad De La Fuente as Dest streaked toward the penalty area. De La Fuente returned the ball to Dest, who sent it wide to Tim Weah on the left flank. Weah, a son of former Liberia president and former FIFA player of the year George Weah, crossed into an unmarked Servania, who poked the ball in with his right foot from 5 yards.
Servania made a bow and arrow celebration, was mobbed by teammates, then air sparred with Chris Gloster.
The U.S. out-shot Ukraine, 11-8, in the game, including 5-3 in shots on target, and held 60 percent of the possession.
Union left back Matt Real played the last 21 minutes as a substitute. Centerback Mark McKenzie, appointed the team’s captain before the tournament, did not play.
“The team made a good effort to try to win the game. Unfortunately, on a set piece in the second half we lost the game,” U.S. coach Tab Ramos said in a TV interview after the final whistle. “But I’m very happy with the players’ effort, and with overall today’s performance to start the tournament. I think we did a lot of good things today. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get more goals, but overall I’m happy with the team.”
The U.S. plays Nigeria on Monday and closes the group stage against Qatar on May 30. The Americans were eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2015 and 2017.