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U.S. U-20s overcome slow start to rally to narrow World Cup victory over Myanmar

Maki Tall US U-20 Myanmar (Getty)


What started out as a nightmare ended up as a win, and the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team is now sitting pretty through the first round of games at the Under-20 World Cup.

The Americans began their campaign in New Zealand by picking up three points on Saturday after rallying to a 2-1 victory over Myanmar in the two teams’ Group A opener. Myanmar scored nine minutes into the match at the Northland Events Center in Whangarei to shock the Americans, but goals from Maki Tall and Emerson Hyndman flipped the script.

Tall netted with an acrobatic finish in the 17th minute of a sloppy first half for the U.S., and Hyndman capped the comeback with a slotted effort in the 56th.

The Americans, who had not won a U-20 World Cup game since September 2009, currently sit in first place in Group A after tournament hosts New Zealand and Ukraine played to a scoreless draw earlier in the day.

After a sloppy first half that saw the U.S. suffer from nerves and self-inflicted turnovers, the favorites looked much sharper in the second half. Tab Ramos’ side was much improved in possession, and created a number of chances before Rubio Rubin fed Hyndman on the decisive play.

The U.S. fell behind nine minutes into the match in a nightmare start to the game. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen failed to properly clear a corner kick from the left, and Myanmar midfielder Yan Naing Oo was there to slam home the opener.

Tall responded for the Americans eight minutes later. A corner from Hyndman was flicked across the six-yard box by centerback Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Tall acrobatically extended his leg to push the ball home and pull the U.S. level.

While the Americans had the majority of the scoring chances from there, they failed to finish. Hyndman smacked his own rebound following a free kick right into the gut of Myanmar goalkeeper Myo Min Latt at the half-hour mark, and Rubin’s overhead attempt two minutes before halftime was also easily dealt with.

The U.S., which played in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, came out of the intermission much improved. Some great one- and two-touch passing saw right back Shaquell Moore hit a 48th-minute cross to Rubin, whose ensuing header was sent high and wide of the frame.

Rubin then teed up left back Kellyn Acosta perfectly in the 52nd minute, but the unmarked FC Dallas youngster somehow sliced the close-range effort wide of the open goal.

Ramos also made a pair of quick substitutions in the second half, inserting LA Galaxy forward Bradford Jamieson and Arsenal prospect Gedion Zelalem for Tall and Joel Sonora, respectively.

The Americans continued to take the game to Myanmar after the tactical moves, but it was a counter-attack that proved to be the difference. After the Asian side nearly created a dangerous look, the U.S. fired back furiously in transition through a good run from Jamieson and neat pass from Rubin.

An open Hyndman then collected the ball at the top of the penalty area and struck a composed low shot into the back of the net.

The U.S. may have taken its foot off the pedal a bit early, as Myanmar began to find success through set pieces late. But Tommy Thompson nearly put the game out of reach for the Americans in the final minute of stoppage time, taking a good feed from Rubin and hitting a shot from point-blank range that Latt came up big to deny.

The Americans will return to action on June 2, as they take on New Zealand at North Harbor Stadium in Auckland. A win there for the U.S. would guarantee advancement to the knockout rounds of the World Cup.


  1. Hyndman, Senora and Rubin all looked good on the ball. That was the first time I’ve seen Senora play and I was impressed with his touches on the ball. Hyndman is going to be really good once he puts in more weight to battle bigger bodies. Rubin looks like he is developing into a smart striker that has good vision. Miazaga and Carter- Vickers were pretty solid. Saw a lot of talent that could be on the senior team in a 3-4 years. I like the possibilities!! Zelalam looks like a nice player that has great knowledge of the game. He needs to get that attacking mindset and move the ball forward. In time, this group could produce multiple full time Senior team players. Tab seems to be doing a really good job! Glad to have him guiding this group as they grow together!!

  2. I am Myanmar.My country are poor. And Myanmar U20 football team is Myanmar people’s future dream.Almost our football players are short and small. If they stand with American ,it is like a father and a son as American is tall. Myanmar football players are also so poor. They reached Myanmar U20 team themselves without sponser or helps.
    In the match of. Myanmar and America,since Myanmar people and I thought Myanmar team will lose. And the result is too. But they do well even they did not have enough energy and they are not tall and they are a new junior team. All Myanmar people are tearing with happiness as their industry.
    Now l am very happy even Myanmar team lost .
    And Myanmar people too.After the match of Myanmar and American, all will know that Myanmar people love their country very much and their team did to be the best in the match for their country and Myanmar people. I am very happy.
    And American team is a good team. So,they won.

    I not perfect in English. So, if there are mistakes ,
    I am sorry.Thank you all.
    But they

  3. I said a paragraph, not a chapter or even a page. Did you not read the post from the gentleman from Myanmar about his country and the progress they are making in development and the ideas they employ?
    Do you not agree that Panama is a much improved country at all levels. Btw they have climbed 121 places in the FIFA rankings in 20 years.
    Yes they do not have players dominate in the Champions league but does the US?

    Perhaps just maybe we could learn something from these countries or other countries.

    What developmental programs do we have in place and how are they working out? Looking forward to your answer.

  4. FWIW here are some observations on the game. I have coached most of these guys through US Soccer and I think:
    1. Poor connections through the midfield and a lot has to do with our shape and that we do not have enough forward options while coming through the midfield
    2. We could have buried them if we knew how to get behind them better. Push players up higher and wider, particularly early in the game, and look to get behind with easy, high percentage passes
    3. Lack of playing together is no excuse. Many of these guys have been together for a very long time and know each other well
    4. I don’t know Tall but I think he is one of the guys that we need to teach how to make better runs because he is not a forward who’s best asset is having the ball at his feet.
    5. Miazaga keeps getting better but man is he immature and he doesn’t trust his left foot
    6. Haven’t seen Corey Baird in years but he was as good as a lot of these guys a few years back
    7. Go easy on GZ. Even though he is with a great club he needs coaching. One thing for sure is that he can find the ball when he wants to and we should start him way way up the field
    8 Russell C would add some bite and leadership to this team
    9 Emo H keeps getting better and better because he can now get around the field easier. Just don’t anoint him as the next CMF for the full team until the tournament is over
    10 Rubio was and still is one of my favorite kids and players that I have coached while working at US Soccer. Great future. If you like him as a player he is even a better person. Tough, not entitled and lights up a room with his personality. I like him as a #9, #7 or even a second forward.
    11. I would love to know more about what Myanmar and Panama are doing to develop players. We should borrow a paragraph from each team

    • You’re going to have to point out all of the Panamanian and Myanmaran (??) players dominating the Champion’s League, because they seem to be escaping me for some reason.

    • Sepp,

      re #11: Myanmar or Burma as they used to be called were a , long time soccer power in Asia. The country has had its issues and the soccer team went on hiatus for a while but now appear to be coming back.

      They appear to be using the same formula everyone else uses to develop players, hard work discipline, viable domestic league, imported coaching .

  5. First off, its impressive how many people were motivated to watch this match. This says a lot about the state of the game in this country.

    Myanmar were indeed well organized and something tells me that we didn’t scout and prepare for them. Teams don’t execute a plan in major tournament the way that they did without having worked through it first. Athleticism does matter though, even though Paul Gardner and a lot of others may disagree and you could see them wearing down as the match went on.

    As for the US, I get the sinking feeling that everything that we do is being dictated by Klinsmann and that’s a problem because he is a tactical idiot. The 4-4-2 narrow diamond doesn’t suit this team and the evidence of that was in the tentativeness of the players in the first 15min of the match. Players out of position and unsure of their roles until Hyndman took control like a good captain should. I’ve managed to watch Emerson play for Fulham and you could see his quality. He is, the brightest midfield prospect in a long time.

  6. Not too many bright sports but I’m not worried. I’m sure Germany, Mexico, Croatia, Italy and maybe even Canada are working hard developing the future USNT stars.

  7. Am I the only one that saw how undisciplined the U.S. we’re in the 2nd half? Rubin refused to mark his man on the right side ok counters, the middle were giving Myanmar time and space, and it just felt like our team are spoiled brats defending. This team has no right to feel entitled until they win something. If Tab can’t keep these talented players under-‘tabs’, then it appears he is a bad coach.

  8. Ok, so I could do midnight, but won’t be able to do the 3am ET ones. Anybody know of a way/place to rewatch the matches online? Used to be able to watch archived games on ESPN online, but of course that’s out now.

  9. Franco, you need to get rid of the “all but” in the statement about the impact of a win against New Zealand. A win would guarantee advancement.

  10. I agree with most of the comments on Zelalem. His touch is something to watch but his passing and decision making was conservative and a bit off. That said, even a great player like David Villa needs time to adjust to his teammates. Zelalem clearly has potential and I expect he can adjust to his teammates and tactics with enough playing time.

    RoadtoMandalay, great to hear a little perspective and background on Myanmar. Thanks

  11. It’s an international competition at the youth level, folks. Myanmar actually impressed me with their atheticism and organization and I thought they did well to build through possession. I agree I thought it was a fair result.

    My big take away is hyndman, hyndman, hyndman. He is a handy little player – nice first touch, excellent vision, great passing ability. I also thought Rubin – although he appeared to tire as the match wore on – was excellent. He set up hyndman’a goal and could have easily had three assists in the game. A few nice prospects in this group!

  12. As a Burmese American I was pleased overall. In case you are not aware, this is the first time EVER at ANY level that Myanmar has qualified to a World Cup. In the 60’s and 70’s Myanmar was a top tier soccer team in Asia. Since then level went downhill with no infrastructure. With a new professional league (about 5-6 yrs old) things are getting better. With MNL1 & 2 (yes they have promotion/ relegation) teams have youth set-up at various age groups. This U-20 team is the first sign of success of player development. Yangon United are a big team – 5/6 of the youngsters belong to their academy.

    • Thanks for the info. I was impressed with their technical skills but even more impressed with their organization. Will be interesting to follow them in the years to come.

    • The team preparation, commitment, skill, and focus were excellent.

      There is a lot to be proud of with that team, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they didn’t get points out of both of their next two games.

  13. I took your advice Franco. Left the wife asleep until the end of the game then moved her and the baby to the bed. She repaid me by waking me up at 7 this morning. That doesn’t feel like a fair trade.

    • What “excitement” are you even referring to? Are you even replying to anybody at all? Seriously– who are you talking to?

      More predictable excrement from the sorriest commenter on SBI. Good work!

      • I was making a comment on a soccer website. Your unprovoked insults show that the manure here is you.

    • No one is excited. We are glad to be 1 win away from making the knockout rounds. Despite the article not being clear on this, with 6 points, the US would be through no matter the results of the other games.

  14. Reading the non Zelalem believer comments.. I think you guys don’t quite understand what his game brings to the field.

    Sure Burma was getting tired and maybe that’s part of it and he wasn’t perfect.

    But didn’t you notice his touches that created space and tempo? He’s not a winger. But when he received the ball in the middle suddenly the possession problems plaguing the team all game long were gone.

    I’m guessing you guys don’t notice when busquet or maybe Xavi r having a good game.

    • In have to quickly chime in and support the comments of r. Benjamin, as well as Craving above.

      From a pure rating of impact on the game, sure Zelalem didn’t set the world on fire, but the pure quality in his touch and vision was very clearly a cut above most, also I that group were Hyndman & Rubin. I simply look at these games as opportunities to evaluate talent for senior team potential (rather than tournament result), and a few of these kids really do seem to have it.

      On the other side of the equation, as you note, Acosta and Delgado were a bit painful to watch. A lot of balls went in and sadly few came out in a positive way.

      The one I’m still trying to figure out is Miazga. I’m generally a fan of his, but on this night I just don’t know if he was reading the game as well as I would’ve hoped. I do have faith that he and CCV will end up performing well, but not sure this was the highlight film I’d use if I were them.

      Anyone else have thoughts on the D group performance? I’d love to hear any informed opinions as I’m still scratching my head.

    • Slow down, r.benjamin. Nobody is saying Zelalem was bad. He brought something to the table, no doubt. I’m not sure what a “non-believer” implies, but if it means I need more than 45 minutes of decent play against a 3rd tier country then I suppose I’m guilty (?)

      If you want to be an @sshole and say we don’t understand what a quality CM like Xavi or Busquets (who are really quite different players, btw) brings to the table, that’s fine. You can be rude if it makes you happy.

      All I’m saying is the guy still has something to prove. I’d love to see more of him. Lots of us would, I’m sure. But if you think he set the world on fire out there, I’m not sure we were watching the same game. “Creating space and tempo” while defending a lead against friggin’ Myanmar doesn’t prove a whole lot to me…. you?

      • I actually do think he was poor last night. If you look at the whole of his play, he had too many turnovers and bad touches as compared to his good touches and his defending and ball winning was sub par. But so what? He had a generally sub par outing in 35 minutes for a 19 year old kid joining a squad late with guys he hasn’t played with before and a manager he’s never played for. It happens. It’s even to be expected. He’ll get over it. He showed some good flashes and that’s fine. Maybe at the end of the tournament, he’ll have rounded into form a bit and we can make some tentative evaluations of his skills and tools but even then it’s VERY tentative. It’s going to be 2-4 years before we have a decent idea of what he’ll really be capable of. Everyone has to relax. Comparing him to Xavi is absurd. Xavi was great because he was incredibly CONSISTENT and well rounded over the course of entire seasons, because he went entire seasons without making the kind of dumb turnovers GZ made last night.

    • You guys are trying to see something that’s not there, in my opinion. There are lots of guys who make a couple great looking touches and reads a match. Look at Freddie Adu. It’s the guys who make those plays consistently while limiting the bad touches and play a rounded game that become top players. This is especially true for CMs who need to defend and win balls and join the attack and get back to defend and pass well side to side, make clever through balls, pass back when necessary, combine with teammates, create space on the ball, make smart late runs, cover for teammates out of position, show positional and tactical sense, play a physical game, etc. You can’t look at two good touches and ignore all the bad ones and vice versa. You have to evaluate his game as a whole and it was poor last night. Too many dumb turnovers and only a couple nice flashes of vision and touch. So, he had a poor game, so what? That doesn’t mean he’s not a good player. Creaming over every good touch is a bit over the top, IMO. I’m as excited as anyone to watch him and I’m rooting for him but let’s show a little objectivity. Those of you who are ignoring all of his miscues and focusing only on his good touches and accusing others of not understanding the game need to look in the mirror.

      • We see this time and again, people get all excited over a prospect and then others jump on the prospect if he has a poor game. You are very right about what makes a good player. This is what I like about Zardes, for example. He works hard on defense and the little things as well as passing and scoring. Will these wunderkinds do the same (Zelalem and Green)? The fact that coaches like Wenger and Guardiola are high on these players show they have a lot of potential. But, in the higher reaches of the game, you have to have great desire and a strong work ethic (see Dempsey). History is loaded with athletic kids with potential who flopped. It is way too early to make a judgment on these guys yet. Zelalem did not have a good game. He may have a great game next time. But, like you said, looking at individual games in isolation is pretty meaningless at this point.

      • Exactly. It’s fun to evaluate and project, but let’s keep it in perspective. I made the same mistake with guys like Feilhaber, Gil and Adu. You see some guys who flash a skill that you don’t often see in US players and you get overly excited and start to think that’s the missing piece to the puzzle. That’s what we’ve been waiting for. Guys that become great CMs don’t just flash a specific skill or two. They work harder than everyone else, they’re well rounded, they know how to train, they work on their weaknesses, and they show consistency in form, effort and intensity. All of these qualities will reveal themselves over time in his play and in the roles his club and country managers trust him with.

  15. I thought Franco’s player comments on Twitter were spot on.
    Zelalem showed he is a class above and he should play in the middle.
    Acosta, Moore, Delgado were the weak links.

    I’d like to see a 4-2-3-1
    Rubin on the right. Tall up top.
    Zelalem in the center with Emerson and Acosta? Behind him. Emerson making runs thru the middle

  16. It never seizes to amaze me how we can watch the same game and see completely different things. I am as excited about Zelalem as anyone, but some of the comments from the ‘Live Game Commentary’ article was crazy. I saw Zelalem have a pretty anonymous game. He made a lot of bad passes and turnovers. Most of his passes were simple back-passes with no pressure on him. He took a free-kick and sky’d it. But you read the comments and its like “he looks so many steps ahead”, “he is way better he should start”, “hes like from another planet compared to the rest of our guys”. Maan i am convinced now that fandom can make you see anything whether it is actually there or not. Now Zelalem might or might not be good, or better, or whatever, time will tell; but he definitely didnt show any of that stuff i wrote above IN THIS GAME.

      • Come on gents. Clearly GZ didn’t have a note worthy opening. He has soft touch and can weave in traffic. At the same time he made lots of poor passes and decisions with the ball. Wait til he makes a positive play or two to hype him up please. Sonora didn’t look any better so I have problem with GZ starting, in fact I hope he does. Layoff the bashing a guy for calling out an average performance for what it was.

      • I agree.

        Zelalem shows smoothness and skill on the ball, but he did not dictate the game like Hyndman, Rubio, and Tall.

        Part of that is probably because this is his third game experience with the team.

        The other part of that is because he does not play professionally with his first team and he does not have a feel for how to control the game at this level like his counterparts Hyndman, Rubio, and Tall do.

        Does that mean that he won’t get to that point? Absolutely not…he could have a killer game next time out. His ability and skill is clear.

        Does that mean that we should expect him to get to that point by the next game? Absolutely not…he is a teenager playing in a world cup with a new team. It will take time.

        Should we expect him to have an impact at some point in this tournament? I believe so. I think that he will make some plays. A smooth player with vision like Zelalem will have his moment. Hopefully he has his moments.

        For goodness’ sake do not turn into an angry mob if Zelalem doesn’t tear it up in every game. There are other excellent players on this team who will shine. It will be hard to outshine Hyndman, Rubio, and Tall…that much is clear. Let Zelalem find his place.

      • Yes to this.

        Also of note though, I don’t believe Sonora plays with Boca’s first team either, but I could be wrong

        Rubin, Tall & Hyndman all did this past season

      • Those three were rocks in this game…they could be depended on to execute and perform to the level needed to accomplish team goals.

        The other guys were all inconsistent. They may show flashes but will lose focus, make mistakes, or show a lack of understanding of what is happening on the field and what needs to be done to accomplish team goals.

      • The fact that you make this comment tells me you don’t know how the brain works when one is typing. Ever type “their” instead of “there” or “they’re” or the reverse? It doesn’t make you an idiot that doesn’t know the difference. It just means your brain pulled out a homophone when it sent commands to your fingers.

      • Davis-Lennon, here is a fun assignment for you. Find me an academic ranking where USC is listed above UCLA. Good-luck with that. UCLA has been considered far superior for years. Add the fact that UCLA receives more applications than any other college/university in the nation, and that means that only top schools like Stanford/Harvard/MIT etc. are as hard to get into as UCLA. Actually scratch Harvard off that list, they care more about your parent’s $$ and your potential to be a high-level donor than your actual worthiness.

      • GZ was nowhere near as good as some people seem to think he was. He lost the ball a number of times, made some poor passes, and hit a pretty bad FK. Oh, but he looked smooth doing it, so there’s that.
        Hyndman and Rubio had far better matches.
        I’m always amazed at how many fans will completely ignore actual performance and see only the hype that they’ve led themselves to believe.

      • Viveperu, the fact that you comment on a typo/incorrect word I used instead of the point I made, tells me that my point was sound and you had nothing to say about it. I also wrote “was” when I should have wrote “were”, you missed that one.

      • or the quality of a UCLA education! But I actually agree with him. I too saw mostly mediocrity from Zelalem and was shocked by the effusive comments about his greatness. He had almost no impact on the game

      • I don’t agree we didn’t start bossing the midfield until he came in and Hyndman was allowed to roam forward.

    • Actually, I have your back on this one, UCLA….. Zelalem looked good, but not amazing. As a matter of fact, I don’t think the result would’ve been at all different had he started or not. I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a start next time around (I think we all pretty much want to see more of this guy actually play), but nothing about this game hinged on him.

      My takes from this game:

      1) Myanmar were no pushover. I don’t expect anybody to beat them 6-0, etc. They were organized, purposeful, and made the best of their talent. Perhaps we could’ve beaten them by more, but honestly, the result was pretty fair

      2) If this tournament is a referendum on Ramos’s qualifications as a head coach, he has some serious catching-up to do. Granted, these are youngsters and coaxing execution of the strategy/tactics out of them under these circumstances is easier said than done, but it seemed for much of the match that we were surviving based on the individual skill of our players rather than the actual implementation of a unified strategy. This has to become better.

      3) Set pieces are going to be a big deal in this tournament. We were abused on one (Steffen was way too indecisive on the Myanmar opener) but we also did very well in causing problems at the other end. I watched a good portion of the Argentina-Panama game and am currently watching Austria-Ghana, and it’s clear that set pieces, along with defensive miscues, will provide decisive opportunities in this tournament…. we need to make sure we end up on the right side of this equation.

      4) Hyndman. A captain’s performance out there. In addition to the goal, he gave us and excellent box-to-box performance and was the only guy who really seemed to understand how we intend to move the ball through the middle third.

      What are your thoughts?

      • Re Point 2: There are always head scratching decisions with him. Acosta doesn’t play a game at left back in qualifying or in recent friendlies. So he puts them there while leaving two better players (for that position) on the bench.

        I personally don’t think Ramos is a good coach, and his decisions 2 years ago and now tend to show his shortcomings.

      • Excellent well-rounded takes Cravin’.

        Myanmar was excellent. They reminded me of South Korea in the 2002 World Cup. They were organized. purposeful, intelligent, and ready for a physical fight to the death. All of those were traits of a well-coached team. The US team should be proud of their performance against a team like that in the first game of the world cup where things go wrong early in the game.

        On point 2…
        From early on, the US team did not know how to relieve the pressure of Myanmar. The players held on to the ball too long, tried to make individual plays, and became overrun. We did not come into the game knowing that we needed one or two touch passing against this team to increase the speed of ball circulation to relieve that pressure. That absolutely is a coaching mistake. We adjusted at half time and began circulating the ball with quick passing and the game changed.

      • I’d add that the game result would probably have been the same if Zelalem didn’t play at all. He does clearly have some skill and ideas, but his decision-making and his touch were not as good as advertised. At least, not last night.

      • It’s still to early to judge Ramos regarding this tournament. The fact that Panama played Argentina so tough shows that our loss to them was nothing to be embarrassed about. As for how well the team plays together, you have to remember that these are mostly still young kids..
        there were too many instances of guys trying to do too much on their own, but I doubt that is what Ramos wants. The US really should have had at least one more goal because of that Acosta miss in front of an open goal and created enough chances for another goal in addition to that. While Myanamar seemed threatening in the last 5 minutes or so, the team defending by the US really was good. Myanamar never got off a ;good shot and “Steffen never had to make a real save. The US basically dominated the game for 70 minutes. The US obviously has some real talent this time, so they could do well.

    • No question. Zelalem was poor last night. Some very bad, unforced turnovers. Not surprising given his late addition that his form would be off. He showed a couple nice flashes of vision and touch, though, and was still better than Delgado who didn’t show anything at all that I can remember.

  17. This team started slow in qualifying as well, so I’m not to worried. Need to iron out a few position but Rubin and Hyndman look sharp. Still in good position to win the group.

    • Those two were clearly a cut above. Others like Tall had moments but Rubin and Hyndman are the ones I’m excited to see again. Rubin should have had 3 assists.

      • I’d add Tall to that group. Tall’s play off the ball was excellent for a player at this level.

        Hyndman, Rubio, Tall…those three were a cut above.

      • And also, I want to not that Tall is on a part of Lille’s academy (a pretty good one) and is on loan at Red Star, who just one the 3rd division title and will be playing in the 2nd tier.

        I don’t know who he’ll be with next year, but playing in the 2nd division of a top European league is always a good thing.

      • Just as with Hyndman and Rubio, you can see the professionalism that comes with the pressure of performance in European leagues in Maki Tall.

        The whistle blows and those guys don’t wait for things to come to them, they take the reigns and take responsibility for dictating the way the game is played out.

      • Exactly.

        Coincidence that all of the European based prospects are steps ahead of some of their MLS counterparts?

      • I don’t think so. I think that MLS is less demanding when it comes to being in form before you get to play on the first team.

      • I think it also comes down to competition for places, when speaking of competitive drive. In MLS you have your roster, maybe you bring in a few guys. In Europe, if your not cutting it at your position, then younger guys in junior teams will get a shot or they’ll just bring in a player on loan.

  18. decent US performance. a few thoughts:
    Our size/athleticism alone will bag us a few goals on set pieces
    Hyndman is really really good. good vision. good passing. reminded me a little of michael bradley as he was EVERYWHERE.
    Our defense is good at defending, but not so much controlling the ball and playing forward. they don’t have the skill to hold on to the ball nor the vision to see forward passes. Not that it’s surprising at this age group, but something I noticed.
    And finally, Zelalem clearly needs to start if his fitness allows it. His skill is evident. His vision and ability to move the ball around with short passes was excellent. Knows when to pass back and when he can turn into space and create some offense; that’s what separates him from the other midfielders besides maybe Hyndman.

    • Your Bradley Hyndman comparison is the same thought I had as I watched the game. I saw some of the negatives too-relaxed body language, the lack of pace etc. as the game developed we saw the positive box to box player with great vision, composure on the ball and skill to pick out a pass. They are both coaches kids. I can’t wait to see him play again. I’m excited about his future.

      • Admittedly this is getting WAY ahead of ourselves, but a question. Are Bradley & Hyndman too similar to play next to each other or is there some situation where they can coexist on the field? I sure as hell hope so but I truly don’t know the answer.

        Side note, I’ll eventually have the same question regarding Pulisic, but I see the distinction a bit more in his game.

      • I think Hyndman has the potential to be a true number 8, which is say to say I think he’s good enough on the ball to make runs forward with and without it into the box, while still being able to dictate the flow of the game.

        Hopefully he has a growth spurt.

      • He’s already grown a lot. A couple of years ago I think that he was still 5’4″. His brain is what sets him apart. Hopefully he can withstand the physicality of senior ball. There were times with Fulham when he was a little overwhelmed/intimidated.

      • The coaches’ kids comment is the telling one. One of commentators talked about Hyndman’s natural talent. It’s probably almost anything but natural. He’ll have worked really hard at it, but it’s clear he knows the game in ways that more naturally gifted American kids don’t. Same with Bradley. Hyndman might have a little more speed in him, but that’s not the strength of his game. He’s very composed….right now, more so than even Zelalem, who comes with the “great vision and passing” label.

        Rubin has grown some in his game since the U17 days. Nice player.

        Your observation about our defenders is spot on and typical of Americans. Throw some bigger bodies and make them defenders. In most other countries, they develop as attackers and only get shifted back because there are other kids ahead of them as strikers. They have much better ball skills and probably better sense of the game because of that.

      • fischy,

        What shows with Hyndman and Mikey is that they grew up with their grandfather/ father respectively as high level, well regarded and renowned coaches.

        That obviously helps put them ahead of the curve compared to a lot of their national team contemporaries.

      • GW and Fischy, I was fortunate enough to watch both Emo and Bradley develop from a very young (in MBs case since he was 7) age. They were exposed to playing in tons of pickup games against guys who were 7-8 years older than them AND they both religiously followed a technical repetition given to them by their grandpop and dad respectively.

        Both were also protegees of Manfred Schellscheidt, by far the most astute German American coach in the US

      • I think the MB/EH comps are a bit overstated in the sense that they are both just extremely good, smart players that are composed and good on the ball. That stands out to all of us because we just don’t have many of those players but we should. The top teams in the world often feature 10-15 guys who have that kind of quality on the ball. I think EH has some differences in that he’s a lot smaller and will never be the physical force that MB is. Conversely, though, he’s more advanced technically in some aspects than MB was at his age. He can get the ball with his back to the opposing goal and turn the ball up the field and be dangerous. He did that several times last night. That’s a great and rare quality for a CM and it’s something MB has struggled with in the past. This should allow EH to play further up the field. I don’t see much conflict between the 2, especially if we continue to play the diamond which allows for up to 4 CM types to play together.

      • great analysis. While both show great vision and technical abilities, I think most of us see MB as more of a deep lying play-maker type with solid defensive skills. He can play a killer pass but is much better at connecting passes from deeper on the field and keeping possession. As you say, Hyndman has more ability in tight positions further up the field and can pivot and turn quickly. Hopefully Klinsmann will quit trying to use Bradley so far up the field.

      • I’d love to see what Hyndman could do paired with Bradley in the coming years (after he’s matured a bit) in a traditional 4-4-2





    • I want to add some possible context to these comments. This match may have been a bit of a one off. This is a fairly athletic side with some good size at certain spots, but Myanmar was an unusually small team, I think, so we may see a different gameplan and less of Miazga and Vickers easily nodding set pieces down to the far post. Conversely, I wouldn’t judge the passing ability of the back line on that one match either. They were poor, no question, but both CCV and MM have very good reputations as distributors out of the back. Though Myanmar can’t match up physically against many other nations, I thought they were EXTREMELY organized for a U-20 side, unusually so. They played and incredibly high line to absolute perfection and really moved together, suckering the CBs into long balls over and over. They worked traps incredibly well and held a perfect line all night, reacting really well as a unit. Anybody else see that, or do you think I’m overstating it? I don’t think, with club commitments and guys coming in at the last moments, that many of these sides will be as organized as Myanmar was. More talented, for sure, but not as organized and I think it’s tough to unlock a team that unified in the first match when there are nerves and you’re not into the flow yet. In that sense, I’m very happy to get 3 points and get out of that match.

      • What struck me about Myanamar was how composed they were on the ball and how well they passed out of trouble. Until they got tired, whenever the US pressed them, they found an open man for their passes and moved the ball extremely well. They had very few unforced errors and what they did have came as they got worn down. They are obviously a very disciplined and well coached unit. They play as well together as a lot of pro club teams do. My guess is that their players aren’t pros and spend all their time playing together.

      • At first I was disappointed that the US team couldn’t dictate the game against Myanmar, but then as the game progressed you could see just how coached up they were.

        Having time to play together and get to know one another makes a real difference at any level, but especially at this level when players aren’t really fully developed in their tactical sense.

        Myanmar was REALLY good. They played like they had been waiting their whole lives for that game and deserve credit for their preparation, focus, and commitment.

        They deserve a tip of the hat.

      • Gary,
        Good observation. While they have not graduated to first their pro first teams they belong to various Myanmar National League (MNL) clubs. The patriarch of Myanmar soccer is rich dude named U Zaw Zaw (also MFF’s President) who has poured a lot of his money for game development along with other owners. This team has pretty much been together a good chunk of this year with overseas camps in Germany, Serbia to name a few. There is also a U21 pro league they play in. Set-up of team is good, with professional physio, strength coach supporting the coaching staff. Coach is German, I think with hertha Berlin ties.
        Their strength is clearly on counters with wing backs working their tails off. Looking forward to the next two games.

      • I actually watched the New Zealand-Ukraine match earlier…and no, neither team was remotely as organized as Myanmar was.

        Neither team is remotely as athletic as the USA, either. New Zealand’s got a really good left winger and that concerns me based on what I saw from the USA’s outside backs last night, and they do string some passes together going forwards pretty well, but defensively…wow, NZ is bad, Unathletic, disorganized…and at least one of their CB’s, Sam Brotherton, is SLLLLLLOW, would be a liability on some college teams I’ve watched. Ukraine is more talented and certain more technically adept than the Kiwis but they don’t have much speed either, though their attackers could do some damage if our outside backs defend like they did last night. They have some guys who are good on the ball and can dribble and create.

        We SHOULD beat New Zealand. They don’t match up well against us, at all. Ukraine looks like a larger challenge but we’re definitely CAPABLE of putting them to bed as well.

      • That’s very interesting, but NZ being the home side you’d think would give them a big boost.

    • Zelalem was actually pretty poor last night, I thought, with multiple bad turnovers. He also had flashes of the vision and touch that we’ve heard about but was way too inconsistent. He’s been thrown into this tournament at the last minute and hasn’t had any first team minutes at Arsenal so it’s not surprising that he may take time to round into form and may stay in the substitute role. You could put him in for Delgado, though, who also struggled badly.

      • Yes, Zelalem was inconsistent, and showed some nervy moments where he gave the ball away cheaply. When he relaxed and got in the flow of the game he showed a lot of quality and poise. Being deployed on the left wing, I believe is not his natural position. He is more of a central, distributing, playmaking midfielder. There were some touches he had where he was in the center of the field and the whole US team seemed to crystallize and radiate around him.

        I think that with Zelalem you also have to factor in that he is new to the team, and is nervous about being the new kid in the class. He should grow into his role on the team over the course of the tournament, and as the other players get to know him better, and as he develops chemistry with his teammates he will play more relaxed and confidently with fewer errors.

      • Being deployed on the left was by design though i feel. Because of the obvious lack of chemistry he showed on the field, it would be hard to deploy him in the middle where he’s responsible for the majority of the playmaking vs the flank where he’s just mainly creating.

      • If he is going to be on the outside of a midfield diamond he should be on the right or at the tip but not the base or left. Ramos might be better off leaving him as a late game sub if he is going to put Gedion in the wrong positions. With him in the match Hyndman was able to go forward more and create so I think Zel should be on the right.

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