BRENT LATHAM - Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The US U-20 national team takes on Cameroon Tuesday afternoon in Suez, hoping to redeem itself from a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Germany on Saturday afternoon.
Coach Thomas Rongen will need to drastically revamp his starting lineup to avoid the disorganization that led the Americans to be swept off the field by the Germans. The European champions, despite fielding a virtual "B" team, attacked relentlessly and had little trouble dispatching the Yanks, who managed just two shots on goal.
Despite the meager offensive output, the Americans' problems began in midfield, where a handful of players failed to carry the load and deal with the pressure of their first start in a World Cup. The midfield had an impossible time maintaining possession, until the entrance of Bryan Arguez in the second half.
Thus Arguez would be a good bet to start in the holding midfield role, though if Rongen sticks to his preferred 4-3-3 formation that might exclude Jared Jeffrey, who also played well on Saturday. Dilly Duka, who played the final fifteen minutes against Germany, and Danny Cruz, a regular throughout qualifying, will also be looking to have a larger impact on the game.
"Coach Rongen hasn't really announced to the team what is going to happen," said Cruz. "But he is going to do what he needs to do in order to get a result against Cameroon, and I think he's obviously the guy who knows what's needed and what's not, especially after the first game.”
"So he took the first game and learned from it, just like we all did, whether it be from the bench or on the field, and he's going to make the changes that he needs to make, if there is any, for Cameroon."
Up front, Peri Marosevic, the team's leading scorer through qualifying, will hope to see action, while Tony Taylor may be a late sub after a mediocre performance in which he didn't see much of the ball. Brek Shea and Mikkel Diskerud will figure somewhere, though it's not clear if that will be in midfield or on the wings of a 4-3-3.
The defense is the only area where things are clearer. Right back Sheanon Williams will return from an ankle injury, though left back Kyle Davies is likely out with a head injury. In the center, the towering tandem of Gale Agbossoumonde and Ike Opara will look to shine against their African counterparts, but will have their hand full with the speed of Cameroon.
"We have Cameroon coming up and three points there," said Cruz. "You never know what can happen, especially at a World Cup. Four third-place teams get in as well, so a win here puts us in the drivers seat for [the game against] South Korea. So as far as team moral, we're all just excited to get back on the field and fix what has happened and do what's right."
The Americans find themselves in a hole in Egypt, buried at the bottom of Group C after their 3-0 loss. Cameroon has three points after an opening round 2-0 defeat of South Korea.