SCOTT PETERSON - Monday, June 24, 2013
The U-20 MNT will look to bounce back after dropping the opener as they do battle with France in Istanbul Monday night.
While a point would keep their chances of progressing mathematically alive, it is essentially a must-win game for Tab Ramos' team versus Les Bleuets, who knocked off Ghana in their opener 3-1.
Despite falling to pre-tournament favorites Spain by a 4-1 tally, there were plenty of positives to take away from the opening group match. For large stretches of the match, for example, the US was able to breakdown the Spanish with a crisp passing attack and generated an impressive 11 shots, five of which were on target.
Another bright spot was the play of Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil, who was the catalyst in midfield directing the American forays forward and connected on a consolation goal that was nothing short of magical.
Ramos' squad, however, will have to shore up their porous defense if they hope to get a result and keep their tournament hopes alive. To do so will not be easy as the opposition in France boasts an array of physical, athletic and technically gifted players playing for some of the biggest clubs anywhere in Europe.
Two such prospects in the French ranks that the US will have to contain are the midfield duo of Paul Pogba and Charles Kondogbia, who ply their trade for Juventus and Sevilla respectively. While the latter is linked for a summer switch to Chelsea, the former has already established himself as a first team regular for the reigning Italian champions.
The American defense will be bolstered by the return of Colorado Rapids defender Shane O'Neill, who missed the opener due to suspension.
Ramos has only one injury concern as Danny Garcia picked up a slight concussion in Friday's match; he is listed as day-to-day.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET) at the Sami Yen Arena in Istanbul.