By IVES GALARCEP
For stretches of Friday’s Under-20 World Cup opener against Spain, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team looked more than capable of keeping up with the high-flying Spaniards. They even held a possession edge at one point and moved the ball around with some confidence for a long stretch in the first half.
Unfortunately for the Americans, a poor start and atrocious end to the first half doomed the U.S. to a blowout loss. A late Luis Gil goal provide small consolation as the Americans settled for a 4-1 thumping on Friday in Istanbul.
Barcelona star Gerard Deulofeu scored two goals and assisted in the first of two goals by Jese to lead the way for Spain, which feasted on a U.S. back-line that couldn’t keep up. UCLA defender Javan Torre had a painfully bad match for the U.S. playing in place of suspended starting centerback Shane O’Neill, playing a part in each of Spain’s first three goals, including a pair of Spain goals just before halftime that put the match out of reach.
The U.S. surrendered an early goal when Torre laid off Deulofeu enough to allow him space to deliver a perfect cross to Jese, who finished easily to make the score 1-0.
The U.S. shook off that early goal and nearly equalized in the 13th minute, only to have ALonso Hernandez push his clear chance wide.
The Americans pressed high up the field and did well to hold their own in the possession battle with Spain, but where the Spaniards proved too tough to handle was on the counterattack, where the U.S. defense’s frailties were exposed.
Torre was particularly shaky, but he wasn’t alone as left back Juan Pablo Ocegueda endured a bad game as well.
There were few bright spots for the Americans, with Gil being the best of the bunch. He helped create good chances, and made the most of his touches, and scored the goal of the match with a beautiful left-footed strike in the second half to keep the U.S. from being shut out.
Now the U.S. heads into a second group match against France on Tuesday knowing that another bad loss would likely doom their chances of a place in the quarterfinals. O’Neill will return from suspension, while injuries to Danny Garcia and Alonso Hernandez could force Ramos into more changes.
What did you think of the match? Who impressed you for the U.S.? What changes would you make to the lineup heading into the France match?
Share your thoughts below.