EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — It may not have been a dream debut, but Jonathan Amon learned some valuable lessons in his first U.S. Men’s National Team match that should help him grow in the near future.
Amon was one of four U.S. players to earn a first start at the international level in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Peru, and he showed some promise, as well as some rawness, during his 55-minute outing at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. The teenaged midfielder was deployed on the left side of the Americans’ 4-1-4-1 formation, and at times his speed and aggressiveness caused problems for the Peruvians in the first half, especially on the counter.
Amon was not always involved in the action – he disappeared for long stretches – and some of his touches and decision-making let him down. Still, the performance was deemed a decent one by U.S. head coach Dave Sarachan.
“He showed some moments that give you hope and showed you moments that make you realize he’s 18,” said Sarachan. “The speed of play got him on a few occasions, but the moments that came where he had to take off and be creative, that was impressive and I think I’d love for this young kid to take away a lot in that regard.”
One of Amon’s more notable moments came early in the first half. The U.S. stripped Peru of the ball and hit on the break quickly, with a dribbling Amon lead the charge down the left. The Nordsjaelland attacker had only one defender in front of him and noticed an unmarked Tim Weah in a better position streaking for goal on the opposite side, so Amon inventively hit a pass with the outside part of his right foot to try and feed Weah.
The ball had too much zip, however, and Weah failed to get on the end of it by at least a step or two. The opportunity to take the lead went begging, but the flash of creativity from Amon was on full display.
“I didn’t really think about it. It was just off of instinct,” Amon told SBI. “It was a little over-hit so you’ve just to keep learning from it and keep going. Can’t get down about it.”
Amon spent much of the rest of the half, and his shift as a whole, doing more defending than attacking. He fared decently in that regard, staying in position with the rest of his teammates to disrupt the flow of the Peruvian attack and tracking back to try and help defender Ben Sweat deal with quick winger Andy Polo.
The way the game unfolded certainly did not play to Amon’s strengths because of how much work he had to put in off the ball. Nonetheless, he still felt he demonstrated, in spurts, some of his strongest qualities to a U.S. fan base that still is largely unfamiliar with him. The same qualities that have allowed him to find success in the Danish Superliga over the past two seasons.
“I showed I could run a little and try to take guys on and try to attack,” said Amon. “That’s what I tried to bring.”
The speedy youngster also knows he could have been better. He admitted he could have gotten on the ball more and played a bit quicker, but also said he realizes “that comes with learning.”
“It was a fantastic experience because it was my first cap and I got the start,” said Amon. “I was nervous at the start with the national anthem and everything, but as soon as the game started I was ready.”
With his first U.S. game now under his belt, Amon plans to take all the lessons learned from it back to Nordsjaelland. He hopes that will help him to grow and continue to establish himself there so that in the future he can earn more opportunities like the one he enjoyed on Tuesday.
“I think the whole week helped a little,” said Amon. “I tried to get to know all the players and try to get to learn the system. I have to now do the best that I can at my club to prove that I can be here again.”