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U.S. U-20s fall in Toulon Tournament opener to host France U-21s

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For the majority of their first match in this year’s Toulon Tournament, a less than full-strength U.S. U-20 squad held their own against France’s U-21s.

However, a pair of one-two punches from France at the end of both halves knocked out any chance of points for the Americans on Tuesday.

The American U-20s fell 4-1 to the hosts, who scored two goals in the final five minutes of each half to make a closer match look like a blowout on the scoreboard.

Benji Joya pulled one back for the U.S. with a free kick goal in the 72nd minute, but the comeback bid was swiftly ended five minutes later with another double from the talented French offense.

After holding off France’s attack for most of the opening half-hour, the U.S. offense began to take shape with some close chances midway through the 40-minute half. The match appeared to be heading to halftime still scoreless, but a brilliant backheel flick from France midfielder Alexandre Coeff and a completely mishandled shot by Cody Cropper made it 2-0 for France at the break.

The quickfire double did not seem to destroy the United States’ confidence as they continued to create chances on goal in the second half. Joya’s goal with eight minutes remaining kept hopes of an opening point alive, but France came back with another double. OGC Nice striker Stephane Bahoken volleyed home a goal shortly after his introduction, and Lyon’s Rachid Ghezzal capped the scoring off with a goal in stoppage time.

The U-20s, who are using the international U-21 tournament as final preparation for next month’s World Cup, will be back in action Thursday against Colombia, the 1-0 winner of the opening match in Group A.


  1. Yeah, the score was a bummer, but Ramos is just assessing new players and fringe players to see if someone really stands out, and those performances will be weighed over the length of the tournament. Hopefully we’ll see some good things in the remaining games.

  2. Thank you Bigbirdlenny for the first common sense reply I have ever read on a soccer message board. So sick of all of the clowns that put so much emphasis on winning, as far down as girls U9, instead of development. Do these people preaching doom and gloom for our U20 team after losing to a team two years older than them really not understand that Ramos is using this tournament to look at some different players before choosing his U20 World Cup team?

    • This is a young men tournament, certainly not boys. At what level do you think it is OK to expect a good preformance or a win. 22, 25, 30? How about we give out gold star stickers next time, an A for effort.

      Why even go to international tournaments? Pure garbage.

      • How about waiting for the results from their next games before overreacting. I would rather see them play bad in this tournament and work the kinks out in Toulon than in July in Turkey at the World Cup.

  3. While I didn’t watch the game closely (I had it on in the background at work), France did not look any better in terms of individual player’s technical skills. The physical differences, however, were quite noticeable. They were bigger, stronger, and appeared faster. From the opening whistle France looked the better team, and while the U.S. wasn’t in a defensive shell, the question for me was not who would win but by how much (although 4-1 was a harsh scoreline. GK howler and a wonder goal that 9 out of 10 times isn’t even on frame, much less goes in). And the main reason for that I think was the difference in physical quality between the teams. Having said that, the weather conditions certainly favored the physically superior team.

    • I mostly agree with you. With equal physical maturity, I think France has a little less time on the ball and we are able to hold the ball a bit better. I must say, however, that the technical ability of France was impressive, especially when combined with their athleticism (of course, we don’t know how athletic France is compared to the average U-21 team). I’d bet this France team is more technical than our guys will be when they’re that age.

      But this is ok guys! I would expect France, or any other major national program based in a soccer obsessed country, to generally produce players with a better combination of athleticism and technical skill than us at this time. The revelation of our current U20 group, in my opinion, appears to be our increasing ability to produce technically saavy players with more professional experience at a younger age. However, we should not expect to be at France’s level in this regard. Some of the prophets of doom I’ve seen in various comment sections on this game are puzzling. (I’m not referring to you, Rich)

      • weren’t 4 of the starters today produced in mexican youth academies (and they aren’t even top prospects at their clubs)

  4. The sky is falling. The theme today is GARBAGE. The ‘keeper has rubbish hands and trash brain! The only place this defense gets stuck-in is in a damp pile of refuse! Our attacking players have first touches like a bunch of dump trucks ramming each other! Our team played bad, and you should all feel bad! You’re all pollyannish if you think the US will ever compete at any level! We lose because we obsess over winning at the youth level, but if you don’t acknowledge that the ONLY purpose of this trip is to WIN, then your head is full of poop! US soccer is on trial, you’re on trial, we’re all on trial! May I approach the bench? *fart*

  5. Age is an excuse there was a huge gap..
    Not in age but in class. Like someone said most of Frances players play for their league 1 or 2 teams but our prospects aren’t even good enough for MLS yet

    • not a huge gap

      If this wasnt a U20 WC prep

      We couldve matched with same age players like agudelo, mcirney, gyau, zardes

    • Age is an excuse……really?? lol. Wow – Well the rest of the world knows that 1 year can make a HUGE difference on the development, maturity, and ability (not even taking into account physical differences) of players. Needless to say – No one is making excuses but saying age is an excuse is just ignorant.

  6. I was stunned to see France were 1.5 years older(on average, I did the math) then the American team.

    At this age level being almost 2 years older then your opponent is a big deal. Curious to see how the US do against the rest of the competition.

      • Also add to the fact that two Americans have had first team experience with their clubs i.e. Hernandez and Joya, versus that French team where the commentators said that all of the French players were in their respective first teams in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 as starters, or guys that get steady first team minutes; that also makes a huge difference.

  7. Morris, Koroma, Joya, Ocegueda, and Trapp were the bright spots.

    I will wait to fully evaluate some of these players until the Tourney is over.

    The Colombia game will be a better measuring stick considering that the Colombians brought their U-20 WC squad versus France bringing a U-21 team.

  8. this article is a little too kind and makes it seem like they brought it to france from long stretches. that was never the case. it was clear the difference in age of these guys. the first touch, speed, agility, and chemistry was noticeably better.

    either way, they should be able to rebound.

  9. Watched the whole match. Clearly men vs. Boys. US put in a valiant effort, standard American never say die attitude, but the French were never in danger. Kind of weird that once groups were drawn for this, they didnt think to swap either France or the USA out as they are in the same group in Turkey. Good learning tool for Tab Ramos’ squad. There’s potential there to do something great at the championships later this summer.

    • They’re in the same group in Turkey but this isn’t the same French team that will be in the World Cup anyway so it doesn’t matter.

    • Also, this is an invite only tournament, not one that teams need to qualify for. And since this isn’t a FIFA sanctioned/sponsored tournament the folks who organize it don’t need to observe overlaps or possible “conflicts” with FIFA tournaments. It’s more of a showcase and warm-up opportunity for the teams and players.

  10. Cody Cropper was horribly exposed in this game as a no-better-than-average young goalkeeper with hands of stone. An AWFUL performance.

  11. Heard it was literally men against boys as the French team average age was 21 and the US was 19. Also the second goal by France was due a a howler from the US goalie. Not sure what either team gained from this match.


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