RJ DEMELLO - Sunday, June 23, 2013
After thinking about it, here are some thoughts on the US U-20 team at the World Cup after the loss to Spain.
No one actually thought the US would beat Spain did they? Regardless it still was not the type of performance you would hope for from the States. A few things immediately come to mind when reflecting on this one. Here are a few points that I'm thinking about.
There was talk about the lack of center back depth for good reason- In the build up to the game this was certainly one of the main topics being brought up. To be fair to Ramos he is missing some players through injury, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Ramos left Walker Zimmerman off of this roster due to lack of playing time at FC Dallas. His preferred alternative? A kid who was a backup at UCLA this past year. I find it absolutely impossible to argue that Javan Torre is the best backup center back we have at this level. This doesn't even touch the fact that his partner on the day was Caleb Stanko, a player who plays in the center of midfield for his club. Thankfully Shane O'Neill will be back from suspension against France and can hopefully improve the middle of this porous defense.
Luis Gil is coming of age- One positive that was certainly clear from this match was the play of Real Salt Lake's Gil. Not only did he score a spectacular goal, but he looked like the most threatening US player all game long. His touch was soft, most of his passes were on, and he seemed to have the poise and intelligence the others did not. What a great move it was for him to stay in MLS and come along slowly instead of jumping at his first opportunity to head overseas. Over three years now and he has developed very well, and remains only 19 years old. His example should hopefully show to others that it is more valuable finding the right situation for your development than just going to perhaps the best team that offers you a deal.
High risk, high-risk- Ramos came out from the opening whistle with his team pressing the Spanish very high up the field. It certainly left open the risk of exposing the defense, and exposed it certainly was. To give him credit it did seem to make the Spaniards uncomfortable for periods but like good teams do, they found their way around it. With gaps in the midfield in front of the defense, often one of the center backs pushed up to fill the hole and pressure the ball. A simple pass would send Spain breaking in towards the US goal three on three. From there the individual talent of the team in blue punished the Americans. In game two Will Trapp really needs to make sure he provides cover for the defense behind him if the US is going to pull off the upset.
The boys are back in action Monday against a France team the beat Ghana 3-1 in their World Cup opener.