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Ghana trounces U.S. to eliminate Americans from U-20 World Cup

Soccer - International Soccer - FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013 - Group stage - Group A - Ghana v USA


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For a moment, when Shane O’Neill headed home an Oscar Sorto goal to make the pull the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team within a goal of Ghana, there was a brief glimpse of hope that the American team could avoid the fate of past U.S. teams facing Ghana in a World Cup.

That hope vanished as quickly as it came, with the Ghanaians scoring two more goals to complete a 4-1 thumping of the United States.

The loss eliminated the Americans from the Under-20 World Cup with one draw and two losses in the ‘Group of Death’. It also marked the third time since 2006 that the U.S. has lost to Ghana in a World Cup, with the previous two losses coming on the senior national team level at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

Ebenezer Assifuah scored a pair of goals to lead Ghana to the victory and a chance for a place in the Round of 16.

The Americans leave Turkey with one draw and two losses, having allowed 10 goals in three matches.

Ghana controlled the match from the start, overpowering the U.S. in midfield, as their speed on the wings kept constant pressure on the American defense. The Africans finally broke through in the 38th minute when Frank Acheampong beat Cropper for the opening score. The goal came after a strong spell of play from the Ghanaians, and it only seemed to boost their hold on the match.

The U.S. midfield struggled to keep up with the match, as the absence of Benji Joya was felt, with Wil Trapp and Mikey Lopez unable to maintain any sort of hold on the game.

Cody Cropper helped keep the U.S. in the match with several outstanding saves, but could not keep Ghana out for long as Assifuah curled a right-footed shot past Cropper in the 58th minute to make the score 2-0.

O’Neill gave the Americans some hope when he headed home an Oscar Sorto cross, but that never fazed the Ghanaians, who responded nine minutes later with Assifuah’s second goal of the match. Kennedy Ashia headed home a corner, beating Caleb Stanko, to make the final score 4-1.

Ultimately, the U.S. defense couldn’t deal with Ghana’s speed, and the American midfield never got a firm grasp on the match, except for a short spell in the second half. Tab Ramos left Dani Cuevas out of the starting lineup yet again, but Cuevas did provide a spark off the bench in the second half.

It wasn’t enough though as the U.S. crashed out of the tournament after managing just one point in three matches.

What did you think of the match?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. From personal experiences, I think soccer should be thought as: “the player, the ball, the glory, and the art of play”- not: “the running time sprint, the strenght, the stamina”…………..all reasons why I was never taken seriously when I was a kid……coaches in the U.S. sadly just want to look good.

    • not all of them……of course, some intelligent comments from people who know what they´re talking about here….

  2. Pay to play!

    I have experienced this! After trying for US U17 and was asked to come back, only to realize later that my family did not have the money for me to continue : (

    We r losing beacause we do not seek talent in our local communities.

  3. I thought this was a talented group of U-20 kids, but the performances were awful and quite honestly Ramos needs to be fired. Really poor tactical decisions on how to have any chance of surviving this group. I thought Luis Gil + Villarreal, Yedlin and Cuevas were as talented as our 2007 U-20 team with Freddy Adu, Jozy, Michael Bradley. Very disappointing.

  4. But having Gil & Villareal etc back in the side will make ALL the difference, right? :/ we are not as good as we think we are, and no where near good enough.

  5. Im sorry but I’ve seen better touches taken from a 12 yr old kid at the park and that’s saying something when there are ten us young men on the field. Not only is their touch lacking but there is lack of technical ability that not be coached. The best players live for soccer and I can’t say the same thing for these pay to play kids. These kids arent looking for a way out but something to put in their college application.

    The us needs better scouts or maybe more because ive seen so many players slip through the cracks because of politics and who will again because of this. Also the college game doesn’t help either it actually stunts a players development . These coaches especially at these big schools get payed WELL and want to win so they concentrate on not getting scored , playing one touch and play balls over the top which is similiar to this us team and hurts progression of a creative player.

    But eh these kids probably will be drafted in the laughable mls draft. Thats drafts players that have soccer as their second sport , never seen a pro game in their life or never thought this would be a possibility but I digress lol

    • I played college and have to disagree. Most people who discuss the seasons omit the spring season, where we play a couple more months and get in a few more games. You then supplement that with U19 play, U23 play, tournaments, men’s league, PDL, youth NTs if you are good enough. I stayed pretty busy and people who are playing that level are always in demand.

      I think this has more to do with it actually being a bunch of pro kids, coached by a former attacker. I was waiting in vain for some hard tackling and some people to look how they knew how to mark. I saw little of that outside of Yedlin and to some extent O’Neill. Just like it’s easy to overlook athleticism, defense calls upon particular physical attributes and a certain mindset. You can’t just move someone backwards or inside and say, voila, I have a slickly composed CB. When this generation’s Messi breaks through a high line they can either keep up or not, they can either tackle or not. This was a bunch of “defenders” who didn’t seem to know how to mark or tackle. How does that happen?

  6. What an embarrassment. Our youth system has fallen behind the rest of the world after our last good U-20 team with Jozy, Bradley, etc. Some people will say these youth tournaments don’t carry any weight or we were unlucky to draw the group of death, but they are just excuses. The truth is our youths are not getting better while other nations are progressing. These kids are the future of senior national teams. There will be a handful of players who will sneak through the pipeline, but these are the best of the best U-20 USA players. It’s a real shame.

  7. HAS ANYONE CHECKED THE BARRIOS? Klinsmann said we would check the barrios in the US for talent. Maybe we can find more Germans.

  8. I remember how excited everyone was a few months ago, after the U20 CONCACAF tournament, because the US beat the likes of Canada and Cuba, played Mexico even, and was allegedly playing skillful possession soccer.

    I’m very much afraid that we might see the repeat of this next year in Brazil. The USMNT has been playing a little better the last few hex qualifiers defeating such known world powers like Jamaica, Panama, and Honduras, and the US soccer community is in a state of euphoria. The Klinsmann-mania seems to have returned in full swing. Yet, all we have done is defeat third-rate opposition (with two of those games being played at home); the kinds of teams that any average European team would have no problems beating by 3 or 4 goals.

    • I disagree about the senior squad. They were carved open by Belgium, but they are undefeated outside of that match since February’s loss to Honduras… while having the toughest schedule in the HEX and playing Germany’s 2nd squad. The youth team is in shambles, but our senior team is on fire right now.

  9. Anyway, I thought the team defense was terrible. If you watch the first goal, you see 4 flat US defenders marking space and ball watching like there is no tomorrow. Don’t these defenders know you have to “pinch in” when the ball is right outside the 18. It actually looks like it could have been offside but who knows. Terrible team defense was the bottom line and the 10 goals against underline that.

    • Pinch in or collapse. Playing more compact as a defensive unit while midfielders apply double pressure? Sounds like tactics…That comes from the coaches…grade: F

      • I mentioned that after the first game…I did not see the other two games…I already knew there were problems…

      • Well, pinch in and then collapse but yeah, same thing. But I actually think it’s the players responsibility as well. It has to do with movement off the ball, not just offensively but defensively as well. That’s one of the big differences between levels in play between the US and other superior nations.

  10. The point that U.S. soccer keeps missing is that the game isn’t part of our being. You can conduct all the analysis you want on why U.S. soccer isn’t consistently successful. We’ll continue to consistently lose because we’ll face teams for which they are soccer and soccer is life. We play soccer, they ARE soccer.

    • Soccer really wasn’t in our being 30 years ago. It is making inroads but will take another 30-40 years before it enters our “being”. It’s in my “being” and I am 35 playing in the German 8th div.

    • We are a country of 300+ million we do not need monomaniacal focus on a sport to produce plenty of good athletes at it. Granted, if it was our favorite we’d soon dominate but we have ever-increasing interest and a big pool to draw from, even if football, hoops, etc. are grabbing some of their own.

      • Possibly, but we’re not doing ourselves any favors with the system or coaching. After all we have to go and get “outside” help from a German coach. We have more of our players playing in overseas leagues, but none of our coashes are coaching big clubs overseas. We have some very good players, but we’ve been waiting for decades for that Messi-like player, or a truly dominant men’s team to come from the US. Our women’s team is #1 because there really aren’t as many distractions bigger than soccer on the women’s side. I still think the other sports will continue to be too big of a draw for the best athletes. Let me know how we fix coaching.

      • Bradley. I think there are plenty of coaches like Arena who could also be strong abroad, but I think there is a fair amount of nationalism in coaching picks, plus a factual language barrier depending where you go. You need to speak conversational Spanish to coach in Spain, etc. Where a player can get by on simply playing soccer, and work on communication as he goes, a coach’s stock in trade is being able to organize and communicate with players.

        The necessity of Klinsi is debatable, we have plenty of domestic coaching talent.

        I disagree on the women, we are simply on the high end of a relatively new sport but the lull after the Hamm years tells you that the rest of the world is catching up. It’s like being England when soccer was first organized. Check back in 30-50 years.

  11. The solution to player development is simple, higher salaries in MLS. If the bar is raised for how much you can make as a player in America, especially the league minimum, player development will take care of itself.

    • Have you checked lately on how many foreign players are in the MLS? They’ll just be more., which will have a negative effect on U.S. player development. That’s happening right now with the BPL. The actions to buy more foreign players are actually stifling England’s player development process.

      • If an increase in MLS salaries brings in a higher quality and number of foreign players that is great for development b/c its a higher level of competition. Making a MLS team becomes harder, which means the young players have to have be that much better to even start on a team. Nothing makes athletes in any sport improve like day-to-day competition. I don’t see the English issue you are describing as a problem for America, I see it as an opportunity. Bringing a higher level of soccer closer to young Americans, as well as the opportunity to make “major league” money, in a “major league” sport in your home country will accelerate development of the national team player pool more than anything else.

  12. For US soccer the growth will always be measured in baby steps. We are never going to make a massive jump forward. Ramos definitely made some questionable decisions with personnel, but In the U20 concacaf tourney, we saw improvement in our overall technical ability with possession and build up. We played a wide open game against Mexico. Have we ever seen that before, no. We saw improvement and that’s what it’s all about, baby steps in a positive direction. We are not going backwards. We didn’t play bunkerball to get a result…so growing pains are expected. Overall, the players coming through the ranks are improving. If anything we need to prioritize the level of experience when selecting our youth coaches. There were positives and negatives with Ramos…his resume as a coach was incredibly thin.

  13. I was shocked at how poor US decision making was today. Players would put themeselves in difficult positions, lose the ball while dribbling or give it away via optimistic long balls over the top. The understanding of when to take someone on and when to pull the ball back and recycle possession seems to be missing on this team.

    The only player who i thought consistently possessed the ball throughout the tournament for the US was Trapp. He plays almost as a 5th defender but is by far the US’s best player in possession (not denying that his defense wasn’t good today). The attacking 4 gave the ball away far too easily rather than working it around and choosing the right time to dribble/ attempt a through ball. Gil, Yedlin and Stanko all showed flashes but need to be more consistent in possession in order to have a shot at the senior team.

  14. The game we looked the best was actually against Spain, even though our defense still fell apart. We lost that high pressure which I thought was effective. The majority of our teams touches and passes just seemed off. I think in part thus team lost heart. Ghana seemed more aggressive.

  15. This ain’t difficult, can we please find youth NT candidates with some athleticism who understand playing defense and are willing to tackle someone? Yedlin was the best defender and he came from outside of their little pipeline.

    I understand they had some injuries but my impression was this was a soft bunch of defenders who were basically only good at air balls. They covered space rather than players, lost their men, and poke tackled like they’re on JV. I think we’re erring too far on the side of “slick” and forgetting the prime directive is can they actually defend. I was waiting for someone to clatter someone or at least body up. Show them Italy playing defense or something, dude…..

  16. I expect tab ramos to be relieved of his duties within the next week, he did an awful job with this team all around. His selections for the team as well as lineups on the field were awful.

    1) lack of a real CB on this team other than O’Neill (Zimmerman)

    2) His hatred of mikey lopez and dany cuevas astounds me

    Gil, Yedlin and Cropper were the only guys who really impressed me, while stinko, i mean stanko, torre, trapp, hernandez and villareal struggled to really do anything. This team had a ton of promise but in the end underachieved immensely, throughout the tournament this teams performances got worse and worse, they didnt deserve to go through to the next round. period

  17. Whether at the U-20 level or at the senior team level, Ghana played us the same way; pressed us into mistakes in our defensive third while we were trying to prove to the world that we can possess the ball. GET OVER IT! Possession is overrated. The soccer world has one word for a team that plays cute possession soccer but leaks 9 goals in three games. LOSERS! They hate Americans anyhow, regardless of how we play soccer. The only way to shove it down their throats is to win, even if it looks ugly.

  18. Teams have to play to their strengths and the opponents weakness. Knowing that Ghana needs goals, maybe you play a 4-5-1 defensively. To play a 4-3-3 against superior competition won’t work. In a group of death you gotta grind out results, not adhere to a chosen formation.

  19. I just got back from two weeks in Italy. Rarely did I see a full-sized soccer pitch. All the kids were playing on a “field” not much bigger than a tennis court. Small-sided games and an emphasis on technical skills.

    • I think you’re fighting the last war, half our problem is we are trying to imitate teams that play like you suggest, without yet having a full team of players to do it, and in the process have already abandoned the old ways…..where we would have shown up drilled and defensive….hence two 4 goal defeats.

      We either need to go superslick or get some bite back in. Like I said below, I’d like to see us getting better pure defenders in the system, cause I think right now it’s not attacking ability but instead defense that is making us uncompetitive. We were scoring goals so I think the idea we are overdrilled machines is oversold.

    • I also think that trying to paint Italy as Barca is misleading, it’s traditionally a more controlled, defensive, counterattacking style. Italians do not play possession for possession’s sake. Italians get stuck in.

      The whole Dutch/Barca technical thing has gotten in recent vogue with Spain and Barca but has actually had limited silverware success. The Dutch themselves have a pretty empty trophy cabinet. The teams like Germany and Italy that are more physical and tactical have more World Cup hardware.

      I think we could be less empty bucket and encourage skill development without going so far down the 433 bandwagon we lose a tactical spine.

    • Noticed the same thing when I was Italy this spring. A lot of turf tennis court sized fields and when there was a full field it rarely had grass on it.

  20. The utter lack of off the ball movement in the final third by our forwards and midfielders was baffling. This goes to the coaching, and one has to point the finger at Ramos. Truely one of the technical greats to walk on the field for the US, he was also one that didn’t move well off the ball. US soccer has to invest in youth programs that will teach both the technical side from an extremely young age, and the tactical side with movement off the ball. This team reeked of players that are the “Give Me the Ball” and want it to their feet so the can “beat” their man. Pineda, Villareal and Cuevas were the biggest culprits. Our coaching has to improve so that this movement opens up those dribbling/passing lanes. This is why Jack McInerney is such a valuable player. His off the ball movement is second to none in the league, and players like Donovan have seen it.

    • yes, most latino players have that Maradonna, Pele, and Messi infatuation about dribbling around everybody and scoring a see it in nearly every league dominated by latino players in the USA. They pass when they run out of dribbling space and the next player does the same thing over and over. Either lazy or no movement off the ball in support…I can see the U20 lineup dominated by latino players with Ramos himself a latino style of player. Not even Brazil dribbled as much as these local latino players do in the confederations cup.

    • chicharito is very good at making runs off the ball’s fundamental to the game whether on Defense, midfield, or should be all over the field.

  21. It’s incredible to me that nobody points to Sunil Gulati as the glaring weakness that keeps the US from moving forward. I don’t blame guys like Tab, or Caleb or Richie Williams or other coaches of the youth teams…I blame a complete lack of any serious leadership from above. The US has no credible President with soccer experience and know-how, no youth technical director, no vision. I am dying for some journalist to compare the Mexican federation and its resources with a federation like the US. It is a laughable comparison, and part of the reason that we are going backwards, not forwards, despite the increasing talent in our player pool and efforts of our coaches. Go USA, but let’s infuse some accountability into the USSF before placing blame on coaches or players. Sunil is a weather vane blowing in the wind. Maybe a good professor, but do we want to advance US soccer??

  22. Perspective:

    The last U20WC we did well in was 2007. Core players included MB90, Jozy, Adu, Dax, Zisso, Rodgers, Sturgis. They advanced out of a group with Brazil, S.Kor, Poland, beat a Uruguay with Cavani to make the quarters.

    This very good 2007 US U20 team ultimately produced two solid senior players. I’m very disappointed in this year’s U20 team, but perhaps the most important thing is to look at the performances and think about which players showed the class to be a part of the future USMNT on the senior/highest level.

    I see two, perhaps 3 that showed the quality. 1. Luis Gill was the fulcrum for almost all if our positive attacking play. He was also an obvious steady leader for the group. You only have to wonder how things would have been different if he buried the PK. I’m sure this young man learned a huge lesson about preparing for his PK. 2. Yedlin. Yes he’s pretty hyped right now, but for me he lived up to it. His ability to attack and get crosses in against excellent seasoned players was evident. 3. Maybe cropper.

    • -Gil did not show well apart from the Spain game. He is terrible in possession and gives the ball away way too cheaply for a number 10.

      -Yedlin definitely has potential but needs to be more consistent.

      -Villareal, Pineda, Joya,simply lack the decision making to play at this level and don’t have the athleticism or skill to beat players of SP,FR,GH caliber.

      -Rodriguez and Cuevas showed flashes of creativity but need to make decisions more quickly

      -Trapp needs to improve his defense but circulates the ball well. Maybe he should play more as a box to box MF instead of in a Busquets role?

      -Central defenders don’t have the athleticism to hold up at this level.

      -Cropper had a solid tournament.

  23. The question should be asked: Why is Ghana always better than us? Are their players just naturally more talented? Do they have a better youth program? Better coaches?

    We just can’t seem to find a way to beat them

    • All due respect but if you look at recent tournaments, we missed 2011 outright, in 2009 got beat 3-0 twice and were eliminated at the group stage, and in 2013 got beat 4-1 twice and were eliminated at the group stage.

      Back in 2007 we were in the final 8, round of 16 in 2005, final 8 in 2003.

      But, this is no real problem, this has nothing to do with the fact that a German connection practically puts you in the XI, or that we’re scrounging around for defenders worth a hoot even at the senior level.

  24. People will whine and moan. Guess what another U-20 WC takes place in two years. Ramos will start another cycle of players in a few months.

  25. Our midgets played like midgets, so we lost. Simple, really. This sport is about speed, size, power, and athleticism. Skill alone is just not enough.

    • Ironic considering historically the knock on Americans was that we had above average athleticism but lacked technical skill

    • Obviously, we’ve historically gone too far in the direction of having good athletes who hustled and played with determination, but who lacked technical ability and a refined understanding of the game. This group seems to have swung too far in the opposite direction with a group that includes lots of guys with technical ability, but lacked the size, speed, and determination. I think we’ll eventually strike the right balance, but we’re not there yet.

      • I don’t even think it’s about finding balance. It’s not a one or the other. You can have players that are very athletic, and very skilled. It’s not about finding a bunch of technical players and balancing that out with another bunch of athletic players. It’s about coaching and developing your athletic players to play like your technical players. Sports, or athletics, will almost always favor those that are athletic. Where you find truly great talent is by teaching your athletes to be more than fast and strong.

      • Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, DeMarcus Beasley. You do not lose your skills because you’re fast. It’s not a darned tradeoff, we are not forced to play Dom Oduro.

        Really, I think the lunchpail player issue has more to do with the NT bench than anything else. I think we could use more top end skill and also more athletes, but that’s true of everyone but Spain and Brazil.

      • Sorry, that doesn’t make any sense. Look at the players Germany, Uruguay, most countries in Europe, countries in Africa, etc. produce. Ronaldo, Mueller, Falcao, and the list goes on (are not from Spain or Brazil). The best athletes Iin the U.S. do not play soccer, they’re busy winning NHL, NBA, NFL, and MLB championships. Way too much competition in the U.S. for the best athletes. Soccer here is a side show. Everywhere else in the world…it’s life.

      • All due respect but until now we’ve been steadily moving up the world ranks with a combination of athleticism and skill. IMO when we beat some teams like Spain in Confed Cup 2009 it has to do with having the athletes to get down the field in a hurry in what otherwise might be a technical stalemate or the other team parked on our end.

      • Our best athletes play other sports, true. But we’re not competing with the NFL and NBA for their athletes. Those guys are either monstruous (NFL) or super tall (NBA). Almost every football player is 190 lbs or above, and 6’1″ is undersized for a PG in the NBA. Soccer players are generally not that muscular or tall. The problem isn’t that the NFL and NBA take athletes that would make great soccer players. It’s that all of the “too small and not quite fast enough” athletes would rather play Div II or small school Div I rather than play soccer. That trend is shifting, but it takes time.

      • Everyone is thinking too hard on this tournament, we were missing more that a few key players & All we really need to do is find balance Spain’s national team lacks size and speed but only in key areas where technical ability and a sound knowledge of the game matters and that’s in the middle of the field Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas are all little and can easily be pushed off the ball but the control the game, sell calls better than anyone and can CREATE SPACE for themselves and their teammates. Their CB(Pique, Puyol, Ramos), DMs(Busquest, Alonso), CF (Torres) are all big a physical when they need to be. all we need to do is find the right balance look at the balance in all the good teams, when the USMNT play so well against Canada we had had a DM in Cameron that was basically security to our backline, Gilberto did the same for Brazil, Gattuso for Italy, Yaya Toure for Man City, Fallani for Everton, Alonso for Real, Busquests for Barca, Fletcter for Man Utd all those guys are basically back ups to the attacking mids and body guards to te defenders. It’s more about the balance of a team instead of one or the other remember how Patrick Viera was the protector for Arsenal and Keane was the same for Man Utd, what we really lacked was a solid transition between defense and attack. That is why the nats played so well against Panama the transition was so easy and smooth Cameron stays and protect our back line & only comes forwards once a while Bradley starts the attack BALANCED TEAM

      • Messi is very quick and agile. Neymar has above average speed. Iniesta and Xavi can run for days. None of them will blow you away with their size or physical abilities but don’t act like they aren’t bringing something to the table.

      • Neymar is under weight for his age..Messi was under weight when he arrived at FC Barcelona…Messi worked with Doctor’s. Neymar will do the same at Barcelona….

      • Out of the millions of soccer players you pick 4. Their skill and technical abilities make up for their lack of size and strength.

        You can’t coach size or speed.

        Same technical ability. I’ll take the faster or stronger player.

      • Messi, Iniesta, Neymar and Xavi must be terrible players according to Youth Soccer coaches around the USA. We have similar players in Coed, Adult, and club teams that go unnoticed and not cultivated the right way.

      • I agree to much emphasis on size like its the nfl or something . I ve seen better players playing in recreation Leagues . Also with the economy not all kids can afford these travel teams or even college for that matter so I hope this changes .

      • Amen. Rarely do American coaches choose a guy with a high soccer IQ and technical abilities over the athletic type that can do really well on timed runs, and tackle really hard. That trend needs to change if we’re ever going to cultivate talent with any form of class in the future.

  26. I’ve never seen a US team physically dominated like that. I hate to play the what-if game (ok, not really) but you’ve got to wonder how this would have gone with a center back pairing of Packwood and O’Neill, a central midfield with Stanko and Pelosi, and a front line involving Jack McBean.

    • I predict a massive collision when the Jack McBean bandwagon crashes into the wall of reality.

      SBI hype. Gotta love it.

      • If McBean was a few inches shorter, he’d be at college instead of fast track to Galaxy. He’s big, therefore he’s good. See this all the time in SoCal. McBean is like Marvelle Wynne. Poster boys of US soccer where size matters despite poor technique and tactical intelligence.

  27. I dont know how anybody thought this team would advance. 75% of this team will phase out into nothing. There is so much more to the game than the technical side and it shows as this team is getting tossed around like rag dolls. Just because someone is a “professional” doesnt mean theyre the best we have. Especially when Mario Rodriguez is able to sign a pro contract, the most overrated player i have ever played against.

    But you cant place the blame soley on these players. The problem runs so much further up the USSF ladder. The stubborn love for the 4-3-3 has gotten out of control. Youre going to blindly adhere to a formation that relies so heavily on a good CF, a player the US has had trouble producing? It makes no sense. There wasnt even a target forward on this roster. I wish the federation would hire someone who could really evaluate talent at this age. It would do wonders for this team. I also think the USSF should start an all college allstar/ national team of sorts like they do in Baseball. The more players getting looks the better

    • Mario Rodriguez is not the reason this team gave up 4 goals to Spain and 4 goals to Ghana. Also, returning to the British style of playing long balls to a target forward and hoping for the best is not the solution that would improve the quality. Spain’s U20 team had a bunch of midgets, who played variations of 433, and they won the group by a mile. The difference between the US U20 and Spain U20 is not the formation, or a target forward, but is the tactical and technical superiority of Spanish players. Their youth system knows how to develop players, whereas we have a bunch of donkeys in track suits posing as legitimate coaches and collecting money in a pay-to-play environment.

      • No not calling in natural CB’s and starting Ocegueda is what made this team give up 4 goals. No where did i say Rodriguez was the reason we lost. I was pointing out the fact that Ramos evaluation of players is so off thats why we lost.

        This is where you make a mistake. No where did i say we should return to kickball but thanks for trying to put words in my mouth. Is it written down somewhere that a 4-4-2 automatically means you have to play defensive or a 4-3-3 automatically means more attack? Didnt think so. You can still encourage attacking soccer in a 4-4-2 it makes no difference. We are nothing like spain and trying to copy them is stupid. Forcing players to play a 4-3-3 not going to magically make them better. We should be preaching versatility and coaches should be learning to tactically adjust to the personnel we have

        Every sport in this country is pay to play. Thats how it is. Things cost money. You can blame it all you want but its not the reason player development is lacking

      • +1 on everything you said.

        I would like to add that we continue employ English coaches. Here in Central Indiana, there are a lot of them with questionable CVs teaching kids body ball. If you get beat, you must cheat.I need to remind everyone that England has not won anything since 1966. So, why do we keep employing English coaches?

        I think the lesson is we are still finding out who we are. We do have some great Hispanic players. I don’t think you can rely on Hispanic players alone to make up a US National team. We have too much diversity that can contribute to a strong team. We need to look to Brazil as the example of what we could become.

      • “we have a bunch of donkeys in track suits posing as legitimate coaches and collecting money in a pay-to-play environment.”

        Best comment of the day. Pay-to-play, more than anything else, has stunted American progress.

        Support your local MLS club and make sure they have an academy system.

      • Support an MLS +100

        It has to be MLS academy teams. Pay to play brings in mostly rich kids that aren’t hungry and plan on going to college and not becoming a professional soccer player.

        I live in SD and you wouldn’t believe the talent in the “Mexican Leagues” that cost next to nothing. These kids can’t afford to play for the big clubs, but are still very good despite not having much formal coaching. The difference is that they play all the time on their own.

        Unfortunately our country doesn not have much “street soccer” and you can never become Messi if you wait for mom to drive you to practice to play.

      • You were doing well until you shot yourself in the foot with the “Mexican Leagues” cost next to nothing…line

        We are the best in the world in so many sports it’s insane. In golf we play Europe in the rider cup, we could compete against the world in basketball and baseball with our pay to play system.

        IMO the reason we are not a super power in soccer is because we still don’t have the infrastructure, which includes MLS academies and coaching etc…

      • we are better in basketball and baseball because we had a HUGE head start over the rest of the world. Golf is a country club sport that generally requires significant funds and access to compete.

        Furthermore, basketball is in no way close to pay to play in the way that soccer is.

      • Thats because Baseball, Football and Basketball uses highschool to their advantage. Soccer keeps trying to fight Highschool and College and our youth results continue to decline

      • @ Dont Care. The high school argument is far too simplistic. Baseball uses high school but its very much secondary to the summer leagues. Football uses high school because there is zero international competition and it’s a sport that can only be played for a few months of the year. Basketball works to an extent because you need less players and most of the top players play at recruiting factories that pretend to be high schools.

        Soccer doesn’t work at the high school level in terms of producing talent.

      • AAU is huge in bball. It isn’t *that* expensive, and it turns out that boostersimeanthecivicminded love them some bball teams.

      • By “Mexican leagues” I’m pretty sure that he is referring to the Hispanic leagues that play in the local parks around the USA, that are cheaper than the elite youth teams. I see a ton of talent in the youth U-16 recreational teams even.

        I was practicing at the park with my two boys this evening and some guy invited my boys to join his local team. There is a lot of soccer being played these days in our parks. The hardest thing is finding the players that have started young, and developing their talent.

      • could have been a city recreation coed, or adult league..I have seen leagues in cities with mixtures of all kinds of races and cultures both women and men…this is where our older youth or high school youth should be playing..

      • Because Mexico has found so many gems in the US right?? You can try and blame the pay to play system but its really pointless

      • I’m sorry but my local MLS academy slots into the regional superleague at a level below the sort of pay to play clubs my old team was competitive with, it competes in the same tournaments I did.

        I think we might have, all time, maybe double figure game appearances from academy products here in Houston. Most play a first team game or two and then are cut after 1-2 years.

        The reality is the academies are not yet Ajax outfits producing their own people from U10 up. They cherrypick off the club system at high school age groups and some kids stay club (Holden, Shea), some go academy.

        Until the academies raise their level of coaching and quality, and go to producers instead of cherrypickers, such that they routinely outplay the traditional system, it’s 6 on one hand half a dozen in the other. Last year’s ROY candidates were two Louisville players plus an Akron kid……club products….not the academy products. I think the only historic academy ROY was Najar.

      • Meanwhile, you can go to any favela street or beach in Brazil and easily snag a barefoot 23 kids roster that would clean our clocks!

      • Yeppers. MLS will become a much better league, we will have better FIFA youth teams, and a better USMNT…same goes for the women too…when we sign and develop our own youth players…we only made a small scratch on that surface, and only over time will the player development go from a triangle upside down to a normal triangle (with regards to player development and the cream rising to the top) like many other soccer ‘developed’ nations. Cannot put too much blame on Tab Ramos because of this situation. We are a unique country, but until the NCAA is recognized as one talent pool of many, and not the primary source of MLS talent, will we see a big jump in the quality of MLS teams and the league.

      • Spain is kicking ass with 5’9″ ball wizards who are tactically intelligent, composed and playing in a professional league versus college. Player id in USA at U12+ is huge problem. Many coaches and ODP and youth national teams still don’t appreciate kids with serious technique or tactical superiority and all the harder to develop qualities like composure. Keep it up USA, we will continue to suck for decades to come.

    • I think a huge problem is people at the youth level who say things like “there is so much more to the game than the technical side.”

      • negative ghost rider…the youth level should be all about technical soccer and tactics….phyical attributes come later with natural growth and maturity…easier and faster to get muscles developed than to correct a english style kick ball specialist with no strong sense of tactics or even worse has bad technique due to bad habits from bad coaching. Look at Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Schalke just to make a short list. Think about those clubs and how they develop players or learn about it..then come take a look at the MLS draft and the general standard of MLS play on TV.

      • The question is what do people mean by the “technical side?”

        If talking about techniques for all phases of play, I’ll more or less agree with you. One observation I’ve had for a few years now is youth coaches mostly think of first touch, deceptive dribbling and finishing when talking technical.

        Decades ago we used to do better with developing defensive technique, even at the hands of high school coaches who never played. The reason why is they focused on that, having no idea how to develop first touch, etc. So a lot of practices were evenly split in terms of time and focus between dribbling and passing around cones (as in the ball skill drills these guys could find in English books), and basketball-like drills for defensive skills.

        Not saying we should go back to that, but we need to recapture a piece of it. If not, we’ll continue fielding national teams of all ages who can score on anyone, but who give up more.

    • 10 goals in three games? Sounds like another major wake up call to the developmental “system” here in the states (reminiscent of the Olympic debacle). Adios high school and college soccer and bienvenidos to the pyramid futbol structure in the pros! It’s the only way to goes!

      • Actually I think the reason we’re less competitive at the youth levels is we’ve transitioned from IMG/Bradenton centralization — at the top of the club/college pyramid — where our elite kids worked together under high quality coaching, to entrusting various clubs to do the job for us and then trying to slap it together at the end.

        I think we’re now more like the European and Latin American teams that attempt to qualify and compete with pro products. That’s a different thing than having college or IMG kids you can have in camp for months. I think it makes it harder to qualify and compete, because you’re depending on the clubs to do your development, and you lose some of the unit cohesion.

        When MLS gets development truly rolling this might be a beneficial transition, but for now it’s a mixed bag reality.

      • Totally agree.

        I would add to your remarks that MLS *must* be the way forward, but can *only* match and exceed what we’ve done in the past when the money that people have been paying to play on youth teams turns into money that people are paying to watch and wear MLS: it is a business.

        When the profitability of MLS is great, they may be able to increase attempts at vertical integrataion, seeing players as value-added products that they can sell (after obtaining cheap raw materials (many truly young players), sifting and refining them (running their own leagues, slowy skimming the best)).

        It is all about money.

      • I think MLS’ ability to develop is key because FIFA’s rules on youth signings limit the ability of kids born here to even exercise an external option. Even kids like Gyau who want to play there have to bide their time til they’re 18.

        If they intend on brushing aside the traditional club system they have to be the best PDL teams and the best youth teams. Right now my local academy is probably worse in competitiveness terms than my former club. The only carrot is a homegrown contract.

        Part of that is money, part is truly developing your players and not coming in during HS trying to squat rights on pre-developed players. Part of it also an 18-22 age group bridge that should probably be an independent PDL or minor league team where signees can go and play regularly without having to jump all the way to dressing in a MLS 18. The new loan system is a step but if you look at Spain and England their systems are premised on having a separate league or teams in a lower division that you can play on in lieu of the first team. Which makes it less first team or bust which is the MLS issue right now…..look at Dwyer, you send him away from KC to Orlando and suddenly he’s a stud…… you can’t beat playing time…..

      • That’s fair–I would love to have a better and more full second and third tier. As it is we have enough teams at a reasonable level to have a real second tier. The third tier will have to wait, and again, htere are money-reasons that we’re slowly I think crawling towards a rational system.

        Thanks for the reasonable conversation!

      • Totally agree. College has fangs deep into the psyche of youth soccer. Will be hard to extract. Needs years of pulling, tugging, kicking screaming before the parasite is released.

      • Baseball is a useful comparison/ corrective. In baseball you can pick a HS kid who has a longer development curve, more potential upside, and more potential pro years; or you can pick a college kid who has played at a higher level, has a shorter development curve, is more product than potential, and you trade off a few years of career. Ditto college hoops, especially back in the day when you could draft from HS.

        Until MLS has Ajax-like development systems that identify 10 year olds and turn them into finished first team products, it’s a choice. Right now the rookie of the year is routinely a college kid who went through the draft, ie, didn’t commit to an academy. What does that tell you about how well prepared an 18 year old academy player generally is, to come in and play MLS? Not necessarily as good as a top end college kid.

        FWIW, there are Najar-type exceptions but nothing’s to stop that kid you put all that energy into from transfering out. Heck, in Europe they wouldn’t even have to sign with their academy team, that’s a pretty big concession considering the MLS academies are not yet dominant on the US club scene.

        Far as I’m concerned it’s just another club you can pick, particularly if you like committing to your home town team. But even if you sign there the 18-22 first team bridge is not quite built yet, and I think it’s no better and perhaps worse of a chance at playing time. Ever heard of Tyler Deric (3 games in 5 years); Alex Dixon (11 games in 3 years); Erick Marscheider (0 games in 2 years); Brian Ownby (7 games in 2 years); or Bryan Salazar (0 games in his first season)?? And that’s leaving out the people we actually flushed already.

    • The fault lies with the lack of speed in the US defense and that lies with Ramos’s selections. I do not know if there are decent U-20 players with more speed than the group Ramos selected, but I suspect there are. This is a direct result of using technical soccer ability as the primary criterion and ignoring the athletic dimension of the game. Nowhere is that more limiting to a team’s success than on defense. (If all an attacker has to do is knock the ball past you then simply outrun you to get the ball, well you are toast.)

      In defense of Ramos: A problem in US youth soccer is that those speedy players who could have helped the US defense are too often used as wings to chase down long balls and then cross the ball, or as central forwards who wait at midfield for teammates to hit a long ball which they outrun the defense for. they get good at that, but not much else, when the arrive at national level camps, they lack the skills to do much else. Yet the youth club coaches persist in doing what they do to win games.

    • What a bunch of useless Hacks the US U-20 national team is. Joke, Joke, Joke and its a reflection of what soccer is in this country. VERY WEAK

    • “Just because someone is a “professional” doesnt mean theyre the best we have. Especially when Mario Rodriguez is able to sign a pro contract, the most overrated player i have ever played against. ”

      Right, because Kaiserslautern sign scrubs for their youth academy. By the way, the team lost 3 games all year, one being the national cup final, finished first, and won the regional cup. Their goal differential was almost +100.

      I guess the fact that after less than a season in Germany, he now has multiple German teams going after him means that Rodriguez is overrated.

    • I put my reply to several comments here. The US problem is with the development of the youth players. Too much emphasis is put on winning tournaments and not on technical development. The comment on track suited skinny coaches is quite right, kids learn to play by playing in the street or wherever no adults are present. Style Grace determination develop players not the Dallas cup or some other ‘rich kids” display tournament. Kids have got to love the game, the ball and not to be afraid and only play not to lose.


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