DAVID SMITH - Sunday, September 27, 2009
While having to pick the ball out of his net three times against Germany, U-20 keeper Brian Perk still sees the team's second half performance as a silver lining for the rest of the tournament.
Any questions as to whether a severely undermanned German squad missing most of its heavy-hitters would still pose a formidable challenge for Thomas Rogen's team were put to rest from the beginning, with a lopsided first-half giving the Americans a 2-0 halftime deficit.
"We obviously didn't play too well," Perk admitted after the game, "but we weathered the first 20 minutes then got a little bit unlucky with the PK."
The 30th minute penalty was only the first of two rapid-fire blows, as it was quickly followed with a second German goal by 1860 Munich prospect Florian Jungwirth to effectively put the game out of reach.
"We gave up two goals in two minutes, and when that happens it's really tough to come back," the UCLA Bruin acknowledged.
With two games still remaining in the group stage and a berth in the knockout round by no means out of reach, Perk recognizes that the team can still find encouraging signs even within the overall underwhelming performance on Saturday.
"I think we can take one positive which is the second half," the southern California native asserts. "We really came out and realized that we had nothing to lose, and played much better."
"The tempo was better and generally everything was better."
While the Germans did end up netting a third goal late in the half as the final whistle approached, Perk believes the overall shift of the team's play throughout the final 45 minutes is one tangible which they can draw from as they look to get the points necessary for reaching the knockout round.
A second-place berth will guarantee a spot in the round of 16, however even scraping together enough points against South Korea and Tuesday's opponents Cameroon to land in third could also be enough to extend their stay in Egypt.
"If we can carry that second half into the next two [games] and win them both, we're definitely though."
"Even one point and a win will get us through too."
With the challenge of facing the group favorites behind them, Perk and his teammates must now turn their attention to the Cameroonian team, who had a fairly easy time dispatching of South Korea to the tune of a 2-0 shutout, riding a strong defensive performance coupled with a pair of goals contributed from the attack.
Perk admits that the runners up of the 2009 African Youth Championship present an entirely different sort of challenge on the field for the Red, White and Blue, however he feels that their primary weakness is one that will play perfectly into the hands of the Americans.
"Cameroon is very athletic so they are going to be fast and big, but for the most part disorganized," Perk explains, "so that's where we can hit them."
"We'll sit back and let them do what they are going to do, then when they turn it over we'll go," he continues.
"I think that's generally how we're going to play them, which is the style we like to play, so I think it should be a good match for us".