BRENT LATHAM - Thursday, October 1, 2009
The US U-20 national team has everything has everything to play for Friday night in Suez, as the squad could end the evening in first place in Group C, or could be eliminated from the competition.
A wide open group means anything is possible, from first to fourth place, for Coach Thomas Rongen's team when they take the field against the Taeguk Warriors, who have only one point from two matches after eking out a draw with Germany on Tuesday.
The Americans will certainly take the field with a load of confidence after their 4-1 demolition job of African runner-up Cameroon on Tuesday, in which Bryan Arguez, Tony Taylor, Dilly Duka, and Brian Ownby all scored goals.
It will be left to just before game time to see exactly what Rongen has up his sleeve for Korea, after the Dutchman made five changes to the lineup that fell flat against Germany in the opening match. The team responded well to the shakeup, particularly in the center of midfield where the trio of Arguez, Duka, and Jared Jeffrey managed to control the ball and spark numerous offensive chances for their teammates in the attack.
Rongen is likely to stick by his 4-3-3 formation, which plays more like a 4-5-1, meaning Brek Shea and Danny Cruz are the probable starters on the wings. Rongen may try to make room for talented midfielder Mikkel Diskerud, though the Stabaek man, who is celebrating his birthday on Friday, will more likely be deployed as a sub with regular go-to attacker Brian Ownby suspended from yellow card accumulation.
Tony Taylor will likely get a chance to use his speed from the start against the Koreans, who will be harder pressed to deal with his quickness than was the Cameroon defense.
In the American backline, central defenders Ike Opara and Gale Agbossoumonde are sure to keep their places after improving versus Cameroon. The Americans also got good news when skipper Kyle Davies, who missed the Cameroon match with what turned out to be an eye injury, was cleared to play. Davies may replace Jorge Flores on the left side of defense, with Sheanon Williams on the right.
The Koreans feature a midfield that tends to possess the ball well, but their forwards have had trouble finishing so far in Egypt. The Korean defense is composed of four amateur starters from the ranks of the South Korean university system, whose inexperience may present an opportunity for the American attack.
Simultaneous to the American game in Suez, Germany and Cameroon will be playing just up the canal in Ismaelia. The Germans currently sit on a plus three goal differential atop the group with four points, while Cameroon has three points and trails the US on goal differential.