Melbourne City midfielder Stefan Mauk got the Young Socceroos off to a dream start but it wasn’t enough as the Australians fell 2-1 to the United States in Gosford on Tuesday night.
Two quick-fire goals early in the second half proved the difference with the Aussies made to pay for some sloppy defending and a lack of concentration.
Paul Okon named a youthful outfit against a vastly more experienced USA under-20 national side, with the Australian team more than two years the junior of their American counterparts.
The visitors started the brighter and nearly opened the scoring in just the fifth minute through Fulham’s Emerson Hyndman, with the midfielder screwing his shot just wide from the edge of the area.
The Young Socceroos settled and took the lead in the 15th minute with midfielder Stefan Mauk finding the net after a neat interchange with Adelaide United’s Awer Mabil.
The USA continued to press and were unfortunate not to equalise with striker Tommy Thompson hitting the post in the 25th minute.
The Aussies dominated possession in the opening stanza and consistently threatened going forward but were forced to settle for their slim advantage at the interval.
The visitors came out firing at the start of the second stanza and were again denied by the woodwork, with Thompson smacking a header into the post after a superb cross from Shaq Moore.
The Young Socceroos responded almost immediately with Brandon Borrello forcing a superb reflex save from USA goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
Paul Okon made a host of changes on the hour mark and it appeared to unsettle the Aussies, with the visitors netting two goals in as many minutes to take the lead.
Australia pushed for an equaliser in the dying stages and had one final chance through Steve Kuzmanovski in stoppage time but the Wanderers attacker fired his shot straight at the keeper.
The Young Socceroos' next match is against Mexico in Sydney on Sunday before tackling South American giants Brazil in Wollongong on Wednesday 27 May.
Young Socceroos 1 (Mauk 15’) USA U20 2 (Sonora 61’, Tall 63’)
#YoungSocceroos Starting XI: Holmes (Gk), Galloway (c), Rose, Youlley, Borrello, Sotirto, Mabil, Mauk, Deng, Woodcock, Aspropotamitis
— Socceroos (@Socceroos) May 19, 2015