WATTS: WE'VE GOT TO LEARN
Under-17 defender Jared Watts refuses to get down after falling to an undermanned opponent while looking forward to Malawi in the United States' next outing.
"It was a strange game," Watts told YA following the match with Spain. "It was one of those games you don't usually play in. I've never played in one like that with the lights going out and [Spain going down to] ten men in the first two minutes."
"But it was a great game and they're a really good team."
Despite the USA going up 1-0 on a goal by Jack McInerney shortly after Spanish defender Sergi Gomez received a red card for a poor tackle, the USA defense was exposed a few times in the first half hour. These defensive lapses would allow Spain to take a 2-1 lead into the break.
"They came at us and they didn't back off," Watts described of the Spanish first half reaction to going down a man. "They created really good chances and were able to finish."
The second half would see the game change. The Spanish decided to sit back and absorb the American attack to protect their one goal lead. While the defense clearly looked more sharp in the second half, it was their attack that would see all of their many chances squandered.
"We were able to regroup at halftime and talk about things and talk about what we needed to do in the back," Watts said of the halftime adjustments made by head coach Wilmer Cabrera. "We were able to be a little more organized. They were dropping off a little bit more. They are a good team but still we were able to maintain them and keep them in front of us in the second half."
The 2-1 loss to a solid Spanish team certainly set the USA back, but their expectations are still high in terms of advancing and having a solid tournament. Watts said that a priority is to use this game as a learning experience.
"This is a tough game for us. We've got to learn from our mistakes and experience this. We've got to move on because we got three games and [must prepare] for Malawi because it's the next game."
Watts, a native of Statesville, North Carolina, further described that Carbrera is stressing optimism because both the USA and Spain are solid teams in this tournament.
"We're always disappointed in a loss but [Cabrera] just said we got to keep our head up and we've got to move on. We went head-to-head with a great team in Spain. They are one of the favorites and we just have to look forward to the next game."