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U.S. U-20s eliminated from World Cup after dramatic penalty shootout loss to Serbia

USMNT U-20 World Cup elimination Serbia 14



The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team saw its World Cup run come to a dramatic and heartbreaking end on Sunday, losing by the slimmest of margins.

The U.S. and Serbia went to penalty kicks after playing to a scoreless draw in their quarterfinal bout at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, but it was the Serbs who prevailed, 6-5, after nine intense rounds of shots from the spot.

Nemanja Maksimovic converted the winning attempt with an authoritative blast, and it followed a weak low effort from John Requejo that was saved easily by Serbia goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.

Serbia had other earlier opportunities to win the penalty shootout, but U.S. netminder Zack Steffen put forth a heroic effort to keep the Americans alive. Steffen denied Rajkovic’s sudden-death penalty kick in the sixth round, and also stopped Milos Veljokvic on Serbia’s eighth attempt.

Tab Ramos’ side was ultimately outdone by its inability to convert penalties. Rubio Rubin started the shootout with a poor attempt that Rajkovic pounced on effortlessly, and Joel Sonora smacked his look off the woodwork with the U.S.’s sixth shot. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Requejo then missed in the final two rounds.

The Americans made forced the shootout after holding firm defensively for 120 minutes. Serbia was the more aggressive and energetic side, especially as the match wore on, but the U.S stayed compact and limited the Serbs’ goal-scoring opportunities.

The U.S. attack was not nearly as good. Though they did create some chances, including a late look in regulation, the Americans struggled to test Rajkovic with any regularity before fading in the added 30 minutes.

Rubio Rubin nearly found a winner just before the initial 90 minutes came to a close, but his low attempt in stoppage time from the left side of the penalty area was too weak to seriously test Rajkovic.

The Serbs had a glorious look of their own minutes earlier. Stanisa Mandic fed Ivan Saponjic in front of goal the 85th minute, only to see the substitute go off the mark with his low attempt in front of the open U.S. goal.

Steffen was also called into action a number of times to keep the Americans level, including on a dipping, 68th-minute free kick that he pushed away with his right hand.

Mandic also tested Steffen eight minutes before the end of result, but the SC Freiburg youngster reacted well to block the shot.

Tommy Thompson, who started up top in place of the injured Bradford Jamieson, was inches away from giving the Americans the lead in the 73rd minute. He received a pass from the right, but just couldn’t reach the ball on a turning effort.

Thompson also came close in the 41st minute when he received a low cross from Paul Arriola and hit a shot that curled just wide of the far post.

Neither side created much danger in the added 30 minutes, which paved the way for the dramatic shootout that saw Steffen shine and the U.S. penalty takers miss four of their chances.

The Americans finish their campaign at the World Cup with a 3-1-1 record, six goals for, and four against.

Serbia will now face Mali, which stunned Germany in penalty kicks hours earlier, in the semifinals.


What did you think of the U.S.’s penalty-kick defeat to Serbia? Which players impressed/disappointed you in this game? Are you pleased with the tournament the Americans had?


  1. You people are really sick. I get you want to win but your not there on the sidelines. The Americans should have been blown out. They lost to Serbia at full strength before the tournament began. They had little to no energy after playing a very physical Colombian team. They made the final eight after losing two forwards? Do you realize how good this team SHOULD HAVE BEEN? The players that clubs didn’t want to release or players that refuse to play for the team, Rubin and Julian Green could have been the forwards. Clueless clowns . . . .

    • The pre-tourney loss to Serbia was supposedly a 1-0 result in a closed door match. With no idea of lineups and substitutions, there’s not a lot we can draw from that other than the two sides had the potential to be closely matched.

  2. Pretty good tournament from the team. Losing Maki and then Jameison killed the offense, Rubin did not work as well with Thompson up top. Canouse is also a noticeable step up from Delgado, though arguably Acosta would have been playing there if not for the weak depth at left back.

    I can’t remember the last time I saw a US team at any level have such a lockdown centerback pairing. What a performance.

  3. I love all the Zelalem haters on this board that know nothing. For some reason USMNT fans like to hate on their best. (Bradley/Donovan/etc.) refuse to see skill because they aren’t from the same cloth as the 94 ‘no skill all heart’ team that overachieved. Get real. He will be a USMNT regular starting next summer.

    • no one is hating on him, you just cant accept the truth. Many players had a good tournament and he wasn’t one of them. He didnt look much special in the other games and looked terrible in this game. He’s not gonna get a game for arsenal anytime soon if ever but hes still young

      • +1. It’s just a fact about how he played in every game (except NZ). He wasn’t up to the standard we need him at (and that he is capable of). I have little doubt he will improve, but having a CM out there who keeps turning the ball over and has minimal awareness of where his teammates are. There are good reasons for this, such as his late integration into the US setup and his lack of senior club experience, but he’s got a good bit of developing to do yet.

        It’s one thing to throw and attacking/wide player on in a late situation (Green/Morris), because there’s really no downside. Giving 90 mins to a CM who can’t control the game has much more expensive costs.

        Zelalem isn’t a bad player. His technical skills and upside are fantastic. But this one needs to go back in the oven for another year before he’s ready for another serious look.

  4. I had great fun watching this group. I wish they weren’t so short handed for the quarterfinals but that’s football. Lots talented young men there. Now I can get some sleep!

  5. My takeaways from the game last night:
    1. Passports / Birth Certificates should be double checked
    2. Every player looked like Kareem Benzema

      • His father is former All SEC and LSU basketball player Howard “Hi-C” Carter and the man is over 6’5″. Apple don’t fall too far from the tree.

    • Lol…believe it or not, at 17 I was a 6’1.5″, 190 fullback/center back. Some of us grow early. That being said, those Serbian players looked HUGE! I checked the FIFA website and they have a few outfield players that are between 6’3″ and 6’6″. Ridiculous.

  6. Our quest to become England Lite marches on. Now if we could just start grossly overpaying for American talen…… Never mind

    • Nice whining, troll.

      Let me know when the senior team of England beats the Dutch and the Germans back to back.

      Actually just let me know when they can beat Honduras and Costa Rica, they can be called US Lite IF, IF they can get there.

  7. After the last few US youth team cycles where the defense was suspect and allowed goals by less than strong teams, this team was refreshing in its ability to defend. (With 3 of the 4 starting back-line players in place, they allowed only 1 goal in 4 games).

    Injury hampered the attack which was not all that over-powering to start with.

    While I thought the midfield was very skilled, it seemed to lack the kind of bite that has typified US midfields typically exhibit. It may be that when some of the guys mature and get a bit bigger that that will take care of itself.

  8. Any of the final 8 could have won this tournament. My favorites were Germany and Portugal and they are both going home.

    The USA showed they certainly could compete with every side there. Thompson was incorrectly denied a PK for the two-handed push in his back. The USA had 4 or 5 very decent players in the tournament, Zelalem was not one of them. The two CBs were very good, as was the goalie. Rubin and Hyndman are the other two who impressed.

    The CM Delgado has been getting bad press and comments but was very decent. He should however be playing in the U-17s as everyone was twice his size. Even when he made bad passes the choices were correct but the passes were just under-powered.

    Both Portugal and the USA were denied PKs that would have seen them through. There isn’t much difference at all in this final eight.

    • Marco,

      I agree with most everything that you’ve said, but Delgado has been a pro for over two years and still makes the same mistakes. Being tentative when you have that level of experience shows me that he lacks something and you can’t be unsure on a big stage. As for his size deficit, I think that he is one of those players who grew early and played in LA against other Latin players and never figured out how to overcome this. He seems to have lost a step from the knee surgery which is normal. If he can get that back, he might be able to mitigate his lack of presence.

  9. This team, without injuries and with more even performances, certainly could have gone farther. But considering that the primary purposes of youth tournaments is (1) to identify players that can ultimately contribute at the senior level and (2) get them experience on a big stage, then this U20 WC was a success for the U.S. Based on the games we saw, CCV, Steffen, Tall, Rubin, Hyndman, Zelalem, Arriola, Miazga, and Payne are all players that can be called up for Olympic qualifying and integrated into the U23 team. Hopefully, that qualifying process and the Olympic tournament will have the same result: identifying which U23 players are ready to be added to the core group for WC 2018. I would not be surprised if a couple of those I’ve listed above, plus Morris, play significant roles in Russia. For the alternative, look at Mexico (just using a CONCACAF example, not rival-bashing here). Mexico has a lot of talented players in their U20 pool, but based on THIS tournament, I doubt their federation is feeling great about the prospect of those players contributing to their senior team. As a USMNT fan, I’m pretty satisfied with how this tournament went down.

    • Not sure I agree with you comparing the US experience to Mexico’s. Being edged out of a group that included Uruguay and two of the tournament semifinalists, one of which beat the US team and the other ended Germany’s run, is more about the luck of the draw. Would’ve been nice to have a Myanmar or a New Zealand in their group. They have some good defenders, two solid goalies, and a mid that kept the pressure and possession against every team they faced. Stupidity against Mali (Gama) and a lapse in concentration in the opening minute and a ball off the woodwork against Serbia made it a short tournament.

  10. I’ve read the comments, and watched the match. People are insane. Soccer fans are the most insane of all people. The US played well considering they didn’t have a solution once Tall and Jameison IV went out of the roster. This was not a bang it up the field and hope for the best situation. The boys connected passes, kept possession, and attempted to work the ball around. Yes, the penalties were not as good as one would hope, but I recall World Player of the Year Roberto Baggio blast it into the bleachers at the World Cup in New York for the loss to Brazil, so it can happen to anyone. Overall, well played to the boys and even the coaching staff (Tab Ramos is not my favorite). A positive step in the right direction.

    • Baggio knocked the ball into the stands at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, but other than that, you seem to be the most sane person commenting on a U-20 World Cup tournament that gave a large squad the opportunity to compete on a world stage and overcome injuries that could have easily completely disrupted a group of young men.

    • I agree. This is ultimately a YOUTH tournament and is designed to indentify and allow prospects to develop their skills against top competition at this age group. If we want to go all out for the win we would only call up the most physically developed players at this age.

      However, only calling up the big strong kids who’s body matures faster doesn’t allow for the more skillful and technical players to develop. Eventually the bigger faster maturing kids get found out as they have to compete against players their own size once they reach senior team levels. It’s the small quick technical first touch type players that are going to make it at the pro level, but sometimes it’s a crap shoot as to if they get strong enough to not get knocked off the ball.

      That said I worry about Zelalem. I love his vision and ability to work in traffic, but when he’s playing bigger defenders he’s easily knocked off the ball. Also needs to at least have an ability to sometimes use his left foot. He really needs to work on his lower body strength the next couple years if he wants to make it to a first team somewhere. This also applies to Julian Green.

      Ultimately this has been a highly successful U20 team and at least and probably more successful than the 2007 cycle of Bradley and Altidore. None of the guys are sure things but I can definitely see Miazga and Cartes Vickers becoming solid pros somewhere.

      I’m sure NYRedBulls are going to field some transfer calls on Miazga and if the fee is reasonable i could see a teaming paying 2MM or so for him. Would love to see him in Italy learning from center backs there.

      It’s hard to imagine but Carter Vickers is still 17. I mean he technically qualifies for the U17 team I think. Clear to see why Tottenham likes him. Already has a well developed body but would love if he grew a few more inches while keeping his speed. He’s as close to sure thing on this team.

      Rubin is such a scrapper and has a ton of heart. He has a very high soccer IQ but I think his first touch is a bit heavy at times. Hopefully he can continue to work on that in Holland with FC Utrechet. If he doesn’t stay in Europe beyond his time with Utrechet I could see interest from LigaMX teams for sure. Arriola fits this description too.

      I’m not sure about Hyndman. He lacks the vision that Bradley has and is not as technical as well. Hope I’m wrong though.

      Zach Steffen clearly has a high ceiling and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him skip MLS for Europe. He definetaly looked Tim Howard like in goal.

      The rest are kinda meh.

      For me Carter Vickers, Miazga, and Steffen are the gems of this cycle. Zelalem could end up being one of our best ever, but he’s just so raw and under sized right now.

      • In addition to what you write, I think there are several players like Thompson, Payne, Jamieson and maybe Arriola who could have Eddie Gavin type careers–solid MLS players who are good and steady for about a decade.

  11. After 60 min our boys were gassed up front, that’s when Serbia became Dangerous and came after us. We needed at least two fresh pair of legs to keep pressuring Serbia but Ramos waited too long, and let them suffer all game long.

  12. The team looked very bad and didn’t deserve to win. And the penalties by Requejo and Rubin! Just blast the ball or place it in the corner. What a stupid dance instead of a normal run-up, followed by a pathetic kick. I’d rather see a miss like Carter-Vickers’, then those ridiculous attempts by Rubin and Requejo to outsmart themselves.

    • +1

      Rubin was awful. No cutting edge. Taking penalties after a long game is something that you are supposed to prepare for. Ultimately, that falls on Tab Ramos. The cycle is now over, time to move on from the Ramos era.

      This game was awful to watch, especially at 3:00 AM. I don’t know which was worse to watch, this game, or the Women’s game against Sweden.

      • Rubin needs either a bigger or a faster player next to him to be effective. Tall and then Jameson were supposed to be the speed. I’ve said before that I wish that we’d selected Spencer for moments like yesterday because he could play a valuable role.

        Tommy Thompson is a very good player, but he wasn’t what we needed up front last night, he was what we had. Keeping the team that we had in qualifying, and then adding Payne for Moore, Acosta for the injured Canouse and Rubin for Spencer would have been the way to go.

      • to be honest i started laughing after the rubin and requejo penalties. Two of the worst penalties i have ever seen

      • Rubin looked drained and scared.

        Requejo just isn’t good. I would bet that there’s some college left back out there who could have done just as we’ll. If nothing else, he probably would have been faster.

  13. the team looked horrible, the only player that looked ok was Arriola. The midfield was horrible, Zelalem was a turnover machine. He wasn’t even part of qualifiers and i thought Sonora was doing a very good job but i guess there was too much pressure from upstairs to start him. Rubin was also terrible.

    • Indeed Zelalem was a turnover machine and he seemed to be playing at 1/2 – 3/4 speed most of the time. Like it was second team, reserve squad match. He also looked seriously gassed in the last 30 min of regulation, and was nearly drowning in the overtime, leaden and wobbly. Not fit like Thompson and Arriolla, or our center backs who mostly were energizer bunnies and tireless.
      He has some serious technical skills, and has great potential. But he was too new to the squad, and needs to mature emotionally and physically, and develop his character as a USMNT team member.

  14. I’m honestly asking this to get a serious answer because I don’t know…

    Do they practice penalties? The entire team? Or just the Hyndmans and regular takers?

    Because those were brutal.

    • This team, I don’t know. National teams basically are all-star teams put together for a single tournament, and the coach has to weigh everything he wants to accomplish in limited practice time. But club teams typically will have time to work PKs; more time for those likely to take them, and some time for the entire team to work on the skill (if for no other reason than the coach to see if he is missing anything from the other players).

    • +1. Honestly some of the worst penalties I’ve ever seen. Hard to imagine they don’t practice, because the U-17 team under Ramos had a high-stakes shootout a couple of months ago, and they looked like rock solid pros– each one was dispatched with confidence and ease.

      Nerves? Cramps? Who knows. But it was really, really bad. CCV’s was particularly unholy.

  15. Rubio is good enough to start for the senior team (and has). Anyone calling him a dud either has a vendetta against him or can’t tell the difference between his ___ and a hole in the wall.

    • Rubio didn’t show well tonight. But all the squad looked like boys amongst giant trees out there.

      Rubio has a lot of time to work on his game.

      • Rubin was literally the last true striker left standing on the team. He had no help up top, no subbing. He’s played 5 matches in about two weeks on the opposite edge of the world, the last one for 120 minutes in cold rain in the middle of New Zealand’s winter. He was running on empty, beat up, footsore, and tired…and it showed.

        Yeah, it was a bad penalty. He had a great tournament and really showed his quality and his spirit.

        Considering how much this team lost, especially at striker, it’s hard to say anything. You wanted the team to show improvement and they did. You wanted them to show fight and they did. You wanted them to show they were typical USMNT guys who fought to the bitter ridiculous end and beyond and they did. In typical American fashion, we were bombing their goal at the end of 120 minutes. They just couldn’t…quite…get…it…in.

        Nobody’s really got anything to apologize for. A lot of these guys – especially Rubin, Hyndman, Payne, CCV, even Zelalem – showed they’ve got the chops to one day belong at the senior level. Was it a perfect team? Nope. But based on what I saw, no team in the world – even Germany – really had a “complete” team at the U20 level. Yeah, they ALL have some growin’ up to do…be shocking if they didn’t, as U20’s.

      • Well said! I’m disappointed with this result but proud as hell of the effort the boys showed. Absolutely no quit from them last night. And for all the complaining I see, this team was within a pk conversion (twice) away from the semis. The injuries to multiple key players took its toll and I don’t really think many expected them to compete as well they did.

  16. If I’ve learned one thing from this soccer blitz the last couple weeks is the value of speed and width. There was almost no pace on this team and it made everything too narrow and difficult. Every team that was organized and physical with USA made their lives a living hell. Without moments of individual brilliance from Rubin against Columbia or from Hyndman, GZ or Arriola, they weren’t going to score. There were no easy goals, no easy opportunities. Once BJ and Tall were knocked out, there wasn’t anyone to threaten getting behind the d or getting wide so the pitch just got smaller and smaller. Even Barcelona at their tiki taka finest had iniesta, messi, villa and alves to stretch the defense. This team had no one. You can’t expect a U20 side to complete 20 pass sequences in tight spaces in order to score. It’s not realistic.

    Look at what happened when Morris and Yedlin came in for the USMNT against Germany and the Netherlands? They opened up the field and allowed the skill guys more room to operate and goals followed. I think it’s amazing they got as far as they did and a tribute to how good Steffen, CCV and Miazga are as well as how scrappy and determined the rest of the side is. I’d love to see what the other players like GZ and EH would be able to do with a little more space on the ball and some speed outlets to get the ball to. I think Tab was a bit naive in his selections.

    • + 1 Tom

      Probably one the more thoughtful posts I’ve eve seen on this board.

      We were fortunate to have two easy teams in our group. At that we made hard work of Myanmar. Ukraine demonstrated that as a team we were not particularly special and we were flat out lucky against Columbia.

      Siting Barca is a perfect way to to debunk the “possession obsession.” They have the quickness to always be a threat to get behind you, that why teams plat deep against them and has lead to their short passing possession style. Winning requires penetration not possession. Good coaches figured this out 3-5 years ago. Once again, we seem to be tactically behind the times.

    • There were several other reasons why the US didn’t do as well as their opposition over the last 3 games. The team spacing for Serbia, for example, was much better. Same with Ukraine. Those teams always had someone open to receive the pass and their passes were more accurate. The opposition was able to close off passing lanes much better than the US and the US movement off the ball wasn’t as good. That combined with more errant passes, really stifled the US going forward and was one reason they had few opportunities to score in the last 3 games. Combine that with losing two strikers, and it resulted in 1 goal over 3 games.

      • You’re quite right. Serbia moved much better than we did as a team which made their transitional play smooth. When they countered it was as a team with the backs moving up to keep them compact. We were scampering all too often because Hyndman was the only person who seemed to know where to be.

  17. Good defense by the US team, but other than Thompson and the runs up the sides by Arreola, not much in the way of offense. Too many long ball attempts by some. And Zelalem was just awful. Him getting the ball almost became and assured turnover. He has that little jink and stutter to move the ball back a few steps with his back to goal, but other than that he was constantly forced off the ball, his through balls were poorly weighted, and its clear that he is “pechi frio”. He would not throw himself into any tackles, forget him trying to win a 50-50 ball (no chance), and when he lost the ball he wouldn’t give chase or try to win it immediately back. It seems to me that he is that smooth classy player in your team that immediately disappears when going up against quality, especially physical, opposition. Thompson looked great. He just needs to bulk up a bit and Zelalem could learn from him what it means to sweat the jersey you wear. We sure missed having Hyndman on the field… oh wait, he WAS on the field.

    • Zelalem needs a lot of work and development, or he could become the next Freddy Adu. He looks like he lacks intensity, not what you want when you are playing in a World Cup. I was glad to see Thompson start. That kid is a real gamer and I like him every time I see him. Payne, Miazga and Carter Vickers were all excellent. Carter Vickers should make plans for about a 15 year professional career, at least. I think he could become a regular in the EPL in a couple of years. And I think Steffan has the potential to be as good as Tim Howard. All in all, a lot of good prospectws on this team.

      • +1 Gary

        I was thinking very much the same thing when watching Zelamen.

        Thompson is a game who makes things happen and works hard for his team. I think that has been under appreciated.

        The two CB’s could deb paying together for the senior team for a very long time. They compliment each other well and both have pace which is something that we have lacked at that position.

        Steffen will be as good as his temperament allows. The tools are there, he needs to become less nervous.

      • It amazes me that people are so hard on kids, zelalem and hyndman both the 2 best players for US by far. The US is still behind in Development But that is changing

      • In a sense you’re right and then again not. By American standards they’re kids. By the standards of the game, they’re not. Also, even if they’re young, nearly all of them are professionals and some make a pretty decent wage. Of course the younger players on the team, Carter-Vickers and Zelalem really are closer to be kids because they’re not even 18 yet.

        I watched the match v. Myanmar and then last night’s. Otherwise it was just highlights. I would not not consider either Zelalem or Hyndman to be the best players on the team, nor does that appear to be the opinion of those who saw more more matches than I. Do both of these players have grey potential. Yes, I will agree there, but both also disappear for stretches of every game and get run over by larger players. How much they rectify this will dictate their ceiling.

  18. Very proud of the boys. Counting the defensive midfielder who was hurt before the tournament we were playing last night without 5 players who had started a game, 3 who had started a game at forward. Very thin bench for the game and only one sub in 120 minutes of playing.We were playing with in essence two center mid fields. Our center backs were very very good.

    • Kind of wish Sonora would have come on earlier, he had some dangerous speed but didn’t get a chance to get a feel for the game.

      • He looked fast because everyone was gassed. He has lots of flash, but his game seems all about him.

      • and thats princely what was missing, The midfield couldn’t hold the ball or create anything

      • They could hold the ball well in places that didm’t matter, when not under pressure. It wash’t a good set of players.

        Thompson is also really a midfielder who dropped back to help fill holes, of which there were far too many. That left Rubio up top by himself, a role that he’s not suited to.

  19. Zelahem is not a wide player. in the game he kept cutting inside or checking into the middle for the ball. We lost attacking width on his side.
    Maybe go for the win: Zalahem and Hyndman central as more attacking/passing mids and keep delgado in holding mid spot. Then put Arriola and Payne out wide, and sub Thompson for a right back. Rubin stays up front.

    • I was skeptical when selections were made. The team had grown during qualifying and really only needed 2-3 changes. I figure that Klinsmann told Ramos to select Zelamen, but to put this much faith him seems in retrospect to be misplaced. He may be a good player, but he doesn’t do well within a team framework right now. If you’re told to play wide left, play there and don’t cut in, especially when you have a dodgy left back behind you. The Serbs were countering up that side for a reason. Carter-Vickers figured it out and covered again and again. It didn’t help that Delgado was also caught out and when he was where he was supposed to he was still found lacking.

      • Who knows what player instructions they had? Some people want to say that wide players should only play wide, as in there is only one answer to positioning questions. How many times have we seen Dempsey cut inside from left wing to then overload the central defenders and find shots on goal?

        Like Cruyff said, every advantage also has a disadvantage. In other words, wherever you go, you aren’t somewhere else. The trick is to make the places you go count while avoiding getting bit by the vulnerabilities created by all the places you didn’t go. There’s no single right answer.

      • I agree to a point.

        If he was told to that, then its on Ramos. A dodgy left bak needs cover, especially against a team that is know to counter up the wings.

        If he did it on his own, and I suspect that he did, they should have subbed him as he wasn’t following instructions, leaving the team vulnerable and playing his own game.

        That to me is the issue with Zelamen, he seems like he’s “Bobby Big Boots” already. That’s sad because if he develops his game, he could be great.

  20. Bravo US U20. They went further than I expected and Serbia squandered chances to bury them. Credit to the goalkeeper; hopefully he progresses to the senior level. Serbia who played an extra time game vs Hungary a few days ago, never were on empty tank; they looked the more fitter side. Good performance from a US side, but still got ways to go in this beautiful game.

  21. Well, I guess we are going to have to wait until the Gold Cup in home soil, the only tournament we seem to be able to win.

  22. Golden opportunity missed. U.S. would have played a gassed Mali squad in the Semis! Of a World Cup! And then likely Brazil in finals.

    Ramos, of all the U.S. YNT coaches, really does seem to have all the kids on board and giving great effort. Tactically, this team was uneven this tournament, without a real identity–they wanted to play a possession but never quite got there . But I like Ramos emphasizes the players that want the ball at their feet.

    His player selection was solid overall. But I still don’t understand why he left off Romain Gall, a key player during qualifying. If it’s because he’s not getting time with the full first team (Columbus Crew) well by that metric you’d knock out 70 % of this squad. And Ramos took Shaquell Moore, who had no club at all. And Moore was poor, the most disappointing of the tournament for me.

    Gall should have been there. He’s versatile, had a lot of experience with this team. And he can take a pk!

    Most impressive: Hyndman, Rubin, Zelalem, Miazga, Carter-Vickers, Steffen, Arriola, Payne

    Not too impressed: Moore, Acosta, Requejo, Delgado, Sonora, Jameson

    Not enough material to know: Tall, Allen

  23. At this stage and age, why are players kicking penalties with that stutter step walk up. The blow the whistle, you take your 2-3 steps and shoot it hard to the left, right or center. That is it. Rubin surprised me so much with that weak penalty. At his caliber and professionalism, he being a forward and first should have taken it so much better instead of trying to stutter step and fake the goalie. So disappointing. Sonora’s goal was unlucky. Vickers and Requeljo, hey as defenders, they can’t really shoot. Such a great opportunity and I hope they learn and fix it.

    Steffen should be the U-23 goalie. You want someone that can stop penalties like that. He was a beast.

    • Rubio is a soccer dud. Not surprised here. His was the weakest penalty I have seen in many years. No conviction and not technical ability. Steffen was great, but he also let one in he should’ve stopped. The team played very good and possessed the ball quite a lot (maybe Serbia let them have it as part of their game plan), but lacked the definition in the final third. They seemed to be hoping for a lucky break. Despite out possessing Serbia by 53-47% Serbia got got more than twice chances on goal (Steffen really save the day a couple of times). Tactically this team was poor; technically this team was average. A different coach could’ve done a bit more with these players. I see some future for some of these players.

      • Except for Requejo’s, which was much weaker.
        The better team won today. It’s just too bad we didn’t take advantage of our chances.
        Being 4 players down including three attackers definitely showed today.

      • It was

        Requejo basically tried to pull off what Rubin tried and seemed to make it look worse.

        Stutter step, see if the keeper bites and then place the shot.

        Not a fan. Hit that damn thing!

      • +1. Requeljo laid an egg. He and Delgado were awful for most of the game.
        Gideon plays way too soft. And tabb should not have subbed for Thompson. I thought PA and CCV played well. Emerson..meh…not so much.

      • You are wrong! Rubin is the real deal but is only 19 years old. He showed plenty in this tournament that reminded me of Luis Suarez except no biting.

      • Totally, tremendous workrate; very Suarez esque.

        Not a good penalty though, though the Serbian keeper did look very calm trying to read the kicks. Once they saw he wasn’t guessing they should have all just chosen a spot and kicked it hard.

      • Tha’ts like saying Hyndman plays like Messi, just because he somewhat resembles the star.

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