BRENT LATHAM - Tuesday, September 29, 2009
United States vs Cameroon
Under-20 World Cup - Tuesday September 29, 2009
Mubarak Stadium
The United States Under-20 national team managed to redeem themselves after a horrid performance in their opening match with a resounding victory over Cameroon Tuesday night in Suez.

Coach Thomas Rongen had seen enough of the inexperienced midfield he started with on Saturday, and brought on some experience in the form of Houston Dynamo's Danny Cruz and former Rutgers University man Dilly Duka.

The coach also opted for Bryan Arguez in a holding midfield role, and reintroduced Sheanon Williams at right back.

The Americans looked more confident from the onset, and managed to control possession and avoid turnovers against the Africans, who had won their first match against South Korea going away.

A back and forth first half almost began badly for the Americans when Williams was beaten around the corner in the 23rd minute, but defender Ike Opara came to the rescue and headed away a cross bound for a Cameroon attacker.

The Americans then had a pair of good chances, first when Cruz chipped a ball into the area which fell to Tony Taylor, but the Traffic man blasted his shot over everything. A few minutes later Brek Shea controlled in the area and slipped a ball across the goal mouth, but Taylor failed to make the back post run and the chance went begging.

The US would see their first goal before the end of the half, though, when Cruz won a free kick on the near side. Duka swung a ball into the area which Opara headed on goal. Cameroon 'keeper Francois Beyokol could only punch the ball to a waiting Taylor, who fed Arguez for an easy finish and the lead.

The Americans escaped danger early in the second half when Jorge Flores, in shades of his CD Chivas teammate Jonathan Bornstein, shipped a clearance attempt into his own box, but a Cameroon attacker muffed the chance.

Immediately after the break the US had the ball in the net again, as Duka broke down the left side and fed a streaking Taylor for an emphatic 2-0 lead which sent the Africans into disarray.

The Americans continued to pick their chances and looked like scoring again, when in the 68th minute Duka produced one of the best US soccer goals in recent memory. The soon-to-no-longer-be free agent carried the ball down the wing and sized up the goalkeeper from an angle at about forty yards, then chipped a perfectly weighted ball over the large, dazzled Beyokol and into the side of the net for a three goal advanatge.

Uruguayan referee and US-nemesis Jorge Larrionda managed to make his presence felt with a dubious penalty call against Opara in the 75th minute, but substitute Brian Ownby got that goal back in extra time with a breakaway finish to bring the Americans back to even in goal differential.

"Anytime you respond after a 3-0 loss in the way that we did today, it is important," said coach Rongen. "Our character was tested."

The coach seemed upset in the post-game press conference that the media had reacted so negatively to the opening game loss.

"There were some things written in the American press about our performance that weren't very kind," Rongen opined. "I think the players really took that to heart, because I think we really were a better team than we showed in the first game."

The changes to the starting lineup, he said, were a result of both the first match and the scouting report against Cameroon.

"At the end of the day, as coach you try to push the right buttons to get your guys to perform, but in the end it's the players that really dictate. They really showed a level of commitment that was very good in this particular game. As I said before, 4-1 is pretty flattering.

"They had three or four really good opportunities at 2-1 and 3-1 to get back in the game and didn't capitalize on them, so I expect that Cameroon will show up against Germany, which they have to, and will make it hard again. So against Korea, there's all to play for still."

On three points and ahead of Cameroon on goal difference, the US now awaits Korea in the final match. The Koreans also have everything to play for after tying Germany 1-1 in the night's opening match.
Thursday October 1, 2009 11:11 am
Thanks for the un-biased opinion Tom.

Americans have as much confidence as anyone, and skills to match.
Don't judge our talent by Bob Bradley's inability to use it.
Our youth teams are always dangerous, they just get frustrated at the full national team level because of the lack of leadership there.
Wednesday September 30, 2009 11:46 am
I read Latham's match report on; there he quotes Duka on the shot and the coaches harping on about the keeper playing off his line. I'm a believer now. Good show, Dilly!
Wednesday September 30, 2009 10:14 am
Watched on DVR last night and I think Duka's goal was a shot- he sized up the keeper and looked the ball all the way into the net after he hit it. He gave no indication that he mishit the ball. Very clever (although I wasn't that impressed with him he rest of the match).

The difference was that Cameroon's positioning in the midfield was as bad as ours was vs. Germany. We positioned better and Jefferies and Arguez were excellent calming influences on the midfield for us. A much better played game from the USA, but what I would expect against a less technical side than the Germans are.
Wednesday September 30, 2009 8:05 am
Well while I'm glad we managed to get the three points, we also showed that against a stronger opponent we might have some very real problems. We had trouble finishing off our chances, as did the Cameroon team... we just can't give up so many corner kicks to a better team or we'll most certainly be picking the ball out of our net. How Taylor manage not to score on an open net is also rather troubling... that type of situation must be put away, every time.
We still tend to play to the wing/striker being able to beat his man with speed, which is fine when it works but tends to become a bit too predictable and likely won't work as well against a team like South Korea who will be playing for all the marbles come this friday. I wish I saw a bit more control of the pace of the play, as we tend not to vary the pace enough.
Still this was a much better showing than what we saw against Germany.
Wednesday September 30, 2009 3:27 am
All i can say is that the full USMNT needs a Mid like Jeffrey that can hold on to the ball and distribute it. I hope to see him on the next cycle for 2014.
Wednesday September 30, 2009 2:14 am
Duka's goal was clearly a shot in the replay you can see he looks up at the keeper not for his teammates, and he saw the keeper off his line.
Tuesday September 29, 2009 11:15 pm
Tom. You are an idiot
Tuesday September 29, 2009 10:50 pm
I thought Duka's goal was clearly a shot. You could see it by how he aproached it.
Tuesday September 29, 2009 10:40 pm
if someone wants to believe the duka goal was a cross, they are entitled to that opinion. they would be wrong, but they can still have that opinion.
Tuesday September 29, 2009 10:03 pm
I have to agree with Tom - Latham either took Duka's postgoal gestures seriously or is just extremely optimistic to view that goal as an intentional chip of the keeper.

Still, I'll take it.

I guess the U-20s are taking the erratic performances of the full national side as their cue, though. They're playing right to script.
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