U.S. Under-20s fall in CONCACAF Final

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With qualification to the Under-20 World Cup already in the bag, and having just come off a thrilling penalty kick victory against Trinidad & Tobago in the semifinals, the U.S. Under-20 national team fielded a mostly-reserve side against Costa Rica in the final and paid dearly for it.

Thomas Rongen and the U-20 U.S. national team fell, 3-0, to Costa Rica on Sunday. Goals from Diego Estrada, Josue Martinez and Allen Guevara crowned Los Ticos as CONCACAF U-20 champions.

The loss denied the U.S. team its first U-20 CONCACAF Championship, but the team accomplished what it set out to do: qualify for the U-20 World Cup in Egypt. The other three World Cup representatives from CONCACAF are Costa Rica, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago.

The current U.S. Under-20 squad doesn't have the name recognition of past teams, but it impressed throughout the tournament with the likes of Dilly Duka, Brian Perk, Daniel Cruz and Peri Marosevic standing out. With Jozy Altidore and Freddy Adu possibilities to represent the United States in September's Under-20 World Cup, the U.S. team could be a force once again.

What did you think of the U.S. team's performance in the tournament? Who do you think was the best U.S. player? Who do you see playing a vital role for the U.S. once the U-20 World Cup rolls around?

Share your thoughts below.

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53 Responses to U.S. Under-20s fall in CONCACAF Final

  1. Brett says:

    I was really hoping they would win it. Why field a reserve team for the final? I guess what is important is the WC spot and the experience, though.

    Let’s hope Rongen pulls out the stops for the WC. It would be HUGE for our program and our boys abroad if we could pull it out.

  2. fred mertz says:

    Adu will still be playing for the U-20 team 15 years from now. He has a magical birth certificate.

  3. DJ Barnett says:

    I guess my only question is who exactly is eligible for the U-20 World Cup? Is Adu/Altidore/Bradley eligible? Will we see a mostly professional, and by that I mean pro’s playing on a professional team, or will Rongen go with this squad?

    I need answers!!!!!!

  4. Mark says:

    Congrats to the team for qualifying. Would have like to have seen us win it, but I can understand playing the reserves to get them games as well. Hopefully guys like Adu and Altidore can join the team to give them an even better shot to show well.

  5. brett says:

    -Bradley is 21, so no
    -adu and jozy are eligible

  6. Mikeype says:

    I am not sure if Rongen and US Soccer will go with Adu and Altidore for the U-20 WC. I know if I had a say, they would be. I simply don’t believe that US Soccer has that in mind as a goal for its youth.

    It seems to me that US Soccer is more interested in getting its youth players exposure internationally (right now), so they can make the leap to Europe as soon as possible. Which isn’t a bad idea, but as a fan I would want US Soccer to win the WC, not just put in a good show.

    Looking at the 2009 pool of players, US Soccer doesn’t have Adu and Altidore in their plans this year. But I hope that I am wrong.

  7. AltiCooper says:

    This team offnsively they sent seemed weak. Marosevic is the only decent forward they sent. Leaving names like Bernado, Ibrahim, Bowen, Townsend, and Garcia (though he had reason to be left off)not on the roster is unacceptable. Not a surprise we couldnt muster up and goals the last two games

  8. goalscorer24 says:

    I can’t say which palyers impressed as we did not get to see any of the games televised. Why weren’t they shown here in the US?

  9. MetroFlip73 says:

    would love Adu and Jozy to get one final U20 tournament in them. Since they’re not playing all that much for their clubs, maybe this tournament will be good for them. Long shot, I know.

  10. goalscorer24 says:

    Mixed feelings about the final result. Would have been nice to win the region, but then giving experience to your other players is important for the future. Qualification was the bottom line goal. As for the U20 World Cup, not sure if Adu and Altidore should play. Coming back may feel or be a step backwards for them. Maybe if they are not being used by their club teams it would be good for them to get some time on the field.

  11. Eugene says:

    Without any ability to watch this tournament on TV and see with my own eyes how the US U-20s played, it’s impossible for me to gauge how good they are just based on CONCACAF competition.

    Our team could completely suck and still have qualified for the U-20 WC in Egypt.

  12. Cam says:


    Any American under the age of 20 is eligible to play.

    Both Jozy and Freddy will be on the team. This is a genuine tournament, and the main goal of US Soccer is to win. The only potential conflict would be if they were to play in the Gold Cup and/or the Confederations Cup. If their club teams don’t mind them being gone it won’t be a problem.

  13. sean monaghan says:

    lol good to see mexico not in it


  14. brett says:

    Cam – “and the main goal of US Soccer is to win.”

    that describes why the US is not further along in quality… in our youth development, we ALWAYS look to “win”… this typically means we avoid less athletic yet more technically gifted players for the athletic type we’ve been known for producing… things are changing slightly as we progress…

    Youth teams should be less about winning and more about development… while i would absolutely love to win a U20’s WC, i would much rather see it used to expose and develop players…

    Jozy and Adu are well known and established players… they do not need to go venturing off to Egypt… id much rather see them resting and training with their squad, fighting for a spot in the starting XI or at least the first off the bench…

    Jozy’s trip to the olympics hurt his chances of progression with Villareal as far as a loan went… he was forced to stay with VR (which worked well i thought), but he could have gotten ALOT more PT if he were loaned out prior to the season… i just think the U20’s wont help their career any… if anything i see it as possibly stagnating it slightly

  15. JohnC says:

    Lets be serious- any type of playing time for Freddy Adu will be beneficial and he should definitely be on this team come September. I agree with most that Altidore on this team in September might not be the best for his development (this statement is made with the hope that Xerez will stop being suck D-bags).

  16. josh says:

    brett –

    according to their recent lack of playing time, jozy and adu are anything but established players. from where he is now (not making the bench on a second tier team), jozy can only go upwards, and the u-20s could help his confidence and visibility. and if memory serves correctly, the main reason that adu is even where he is right now is because of his performance on youth international teams.

  17. Kizz says:

    @ Brett, good point. Jozy and Freddy going back to the U-20 would be disastrous for their respective preseasons. If they both play in either Gold Cup or Confed Cup, the clubs who pay their wages wont approve the U-20 either. Both will be reporting late to the team missing out on preseason matches and tuneups if they go to Egypt. Not a smart move to take them, cos this time next year everyone will be whining about both not getting PT when they were away from their clubs.

  18. Turtle says:

    The U20 WC is the Sept 24th – Oct 16th. Anyone playing professionally will need to be released by their clubs. This may factor into Altidore and Adu. The other side is if they themselves will want to stay with their clubs or go to Egypt. i’ve seen comments by both alluding to the fact that national tema call ups have interfered with settling in at their clubs.

  19. brett says:

    josh- establish as in reputation… people already know who Adu and Jozy are… a U20’s WC tourny, which means little to Europe except for viewing players, will do little to progress their names… they’ve already had stellar U20 tournys… not to mention be capped by the USMN squad…

    you cannot use Jozy’s “loan” as an example here… the coach has already stated that he was not going to play jozy due to the chemistry the squad already had.. they are fighting for promotion and their forwards were already doing well prior to jozy’s joining the team…

    .. and the u-20’s could help his confidence”??? are we talking about EJ here?? have you seen Jozy play?? his confidence is not in question… he is simply trying to fight for PT on a team that is deep in the front (Villareal)…

    “and if memory serves correctly, the main reason that adu is even where he is right now is because of his performance on youth international teams. ”

    exactly… Adu and Jozy have already established themselves…another U20’s wont do much more…. it is time for the next group to establish themselves…

  20. M says:

    “Goals from Diego Estrada, Josue Martinez and Allen Guevara crowned Los Ticos as CONCACAF U-20 champions.”

    Oh wow, I was dying to know their names

  21. Dominghosa says:

    in other news, Drew Carey was on Regis promoting soccer and his Sounders. good stuff.

  22. Martin Blank says:

    Any tournament experience – be it the U-20s, the Olympics, whatever, is good for young players and both Freddy and Jozy are still young players. just because they have been in a professional setting for awhile shouldn’t preclude them from being on this team.

    If they were regulars on their club teams and getting full call-ups I could see leaving them out, but frankly both players need to see the field and will benefit from being the leaders of a young team and taking on some responsibility.

    Going 3-and-out won’t help the other players’ development either. The idea that the US would be leaving out “less athletic yet more technically gifted players” is ludicrous. The only mistake is thinking “less athletic” players will have a career as an international player. I don’t think whining about your kid’s team losing to the team of brutes translates very well at the international level.

  23. brett says:

    martin blank- sorry if i disagree, martin, but i would rather have the likes of Jozy and Adu fighting for a starting spot on their respected side… missing out the end of september could very well damage their chances of PT for some time..

    and there is no guarantee that if they played with the U20’s that they may still go 3 and out….

    per “The idea that the US would be leaving out “less athletic yet more technically gifted players” is ludicrous.”

    please work on your reading comprehension.. i was pointing out to the past, not the present, hence why i followed that up with “things are changing slightly as we progress… “… never did i say we are currently focusing on more athletic over more technical….

    in the past, if the youth development was more about developing the youth rather then winning/losing we’d be further ahead of where we currently are… only recently has our youth development gone to just that, development, which is why we are seeing more talented youngsters then in the past…

  24. Jon E says:

    Adu will still be playing for the U-20 team 15 years from now. He has a magical birth certificate.

    Posted by: fred mertz | March 16, 2009 at 11:46 AM

    Ives, I know that a while back I went overboard arguing with a similar post, so I’ll just say that I think this sort of stuff if pernicious, and I’d ask that you consider clamping down on it.

  25. Cam says:

    brett- “this typically means we avoid less athletic yet more technically gifted players for the athletic type we’ve been known for producing… ”

    What does that even mean?

    Jozy and Freddy might be “well known and established” but that doesn’t mean anything if they’re not even dressing for league games. The most important thing for them is to be playing. If they’re still riding the bench at their respected clubs, why shouldn’t they go?

    Kizz, I distinctly remember Christiano Ronaldo playing in Euro 2004 and the Olympics in 2004. At the time he had just become a starter for Manchester United. It doesn’t seem to have blemished his career at all.

    The bottom line is that our 2 most prominent rising stars need to be playing. If they are not getting significant time with their clubs, they should be with the youth national team.

  26. Kizz says:

    @ Cam, are you seriously comparing Ronaldo to either Adu or Altidore? Really? In 2004, Ronaldo was not loaned out to any team, he was not riding the bench or sitting in the stands while on loan either, he was with Man United playing. Neither of these guys are.
    Dude, these kids are not playing in Europe at all, you think going to U-20 in Egypt away from practice, training camp and under the watchful eyes of their coaches will actually improve their chances of getting playing time with their clubs? Really? LOL

  27. Tim F. says:

    They didnt score in 3 of 5 games and in a couple games they barely managed a shot on goal. If they didn’t have probably the best goalkeeper in the tourney they would have been out just like Mexico.

    Is it a bright spot that they didn’t concede in 4 of the 5 games? I don’t think it is when their offense is absolutely dreadful. If they cant get shots and goals on teams like Honduras, TnT, and Costa Rica, then they are going to be in for a world of hurt at the u20 world cup.

  28. brett says:

    “this typically means we avoid less athletic yet more technically gifted players for the athletic type we’ve been known for producing”

    means in the past we would simply pick up the kids that are more athletic, rather then looking at who in fact is more technical… our youth was dominated by players who could out run the opposition rather then out dribble… we took the kids early who were athletically gifted rather then looking at their individual skill sets… b/c, especially at the younger levels, the quick and stronger kids could thrash the more technical yet less athletic ones… im not saying any of the above mentioned were poor athletes, but some are athletically gifted at a younger age….

    as a US fan i would agree that we want both jozy and adu to get PT, but honestly, having them skip out on the preseason to play in either the gold cup or confeds and then miss out on the beginning of the season to play in a youth tournament will not help their careers with their clubs… and that is where they will develop more…

  29. Cam says:

    You’re trying to put words in my mouth, Kizz. I didn’t say any of that, “dude”.

    I’m saying that Adu and Altidore need to be playing. How does it benefit them to stay with their clubs if they’re not playing? What I’m suggesting is that maybe with a good performance on the world stage they might get some interest from other clubs. This would pressure their current teams to trade them, loan them, or play them more often. Christiano Ronaldo’s stock soared after his play in the summer of 2004. The same happened for Pato after his performance in summer 07. I’m suggesting the same can happen for Adu and Altidore.

    I obviously disagree with you, but don’t take it personal “dude”.

  30. brett says:

    Tim F- you are under the assumption that Rongen isnt going to call in a couple new faces?? i can see Nazini (sp??) Bernard and Opera getting a call up for the actual WC… im sure there are others who havent been called in or were injured… i would expect to see a few call ins…

  31. Army of Dad says:

    Brett, “then” and “than” are different words. Look them up, your posts are tough to read the way they are written and any good parts get lost.

    For example “in the past, if the youth development was more about developing the youth rather THAN winning/losing we’d be further ahead of where we currently are…”

    I don’t usually comment on grammar as I miss plenty of things myself, but that mistake was repeated over and over and really distracted from your points.

  32. brett says:

    army of dad- thanks, but i dont care

  33. GL says:

    Speaking of holdovers from U20 YWC 2007, what are the chances of Pato playing for Brazil again? An Adu/Altidore vs Pato rematch would be an instant classic.

  34. Supsam says:

    i like what ROngen did. Give the other players more experience cuz the actual World Cup makes the CONCACAF U20’s look like nothing. Plus, its not like Mexican fans can make fun of us for losing in the finals haha double bonus!

  35. Charlie N. says:

    Pernicious——Off to the dictionary I go

  36. Carl says:

    Army is right, but brett’s posts are great

  37. Scott says:

    No se puede.

  38. Kizz says:

    @ Cam, if you didn’t mean that, then do not bring them up in the same sentence, you stand the chance of people misconstruing your point.

    You are either new to football or dont watch enough to know that Ronaldo’s stock did not soar because of two irrelevant games he played at the Olympics in Greece. I’ve been watching Ronaldo since Sporting Lisbon and Sir Alex went after him in 2003 after Sporting smashed United 3-1 in a friendly, not Summer Games.

    Pato and Jo’s performance for Brazil at U-20 in 2007 was below expectation. If you follow these guys enough, you would know that Pato attracted AC Milan due to his performance at the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup when Barcelona lost to his Brazilian club Internacional, though Milan didn’t officially get him until August 2007.

    @ GL, Brazil is not USA where they would send Pato an established AC Milan and national team forward to Egypt in September; they already have players lining up to take Pato’s place.
    Get real, Milan would never release him especially since he is the replacement for Pippo Inzaghi and they sold Alberto Gilardino so Pato can start, plus Sheva rides the bench on loan from Chelsea, wake up from that dream dude, lol.

  39. Andres says:

    I don’t know exactly why but I have a terrible feeling about the USA soccer future..the golden ages were the last U20 group and since they didn’t accomplish much now the US won’t at this level. I am only 20, I was born in 1988 and there was always a huge gap in talents between ages in this country. For example when I was U16 my team was NJ state champs and we would scrimmage the champs 1 year older and would get killed, scrimmage the champs 1 year younger and would kill them. And this U20 national team is simply pretty bad to what it should be at this level and compared to the past ones. Funny things is things should be vice versa we should only be getting better as the years go by.

  40. Bob says:

    Brain Perk is the next Tim Howard

  41. Tim F. says:

    Brett, we can only hope that Bernardo, Ibrahim, Nazzani and others (Garza??) will be called in to shore this team up. The two best players on the team seemed like Perk and Marosevic.

    Anyone else think its time for Rongen to step aside and let some fresh ideas from a new coach speed up the tempo of the u20 program? Rongen is too predictable now and the most important thing the youth national teams need to teach these kids is on the attacking side of the ball. We are plenty good enough defending at the top leveling. I’d rather see these kids winning and losing games that are 4-3 than all of these 0-0 or 1-0 games. Results for the youth shouldn’t be as important as teaching them to play well in the attacking.

  42. papa bear says:

    @Posted by: brett | March 16, 2009 at 01:03 PM

    Let’s get one thing clear, the kind of ‘youth’ teams you are talking about are the U-14 and unders. A U-20 team isn’t a ‘youth’ team in the sense you are speaking about. The U-20’s (U-21’s in UEFA) were born so MEN who were young but not regulars on the senior level could learn to win. If you are 18-20 you either have sorted out your technical abilites or you haven’t.

    I do agree with you that real youth teams did use to have FAR too much emphasis on winning and not playing properly.

    I do agree that the U-20’s might hurt Altidore in pre-season, but at the same time is USSF wants him there is nothing Villareal can do. It’s a FIFA event and you can’t block players from participating. Also it’s not as horrible since it is a big tournament and it’s not like he won’t be getting a good solid test during that run of games.

  43. mark says:

    I was amazed that Rogen didn’t try and win this tournament! Why get to the final to play your second and third string players. I believe in rotation to develop and rest players but when a team gets to the final, LETS WIN! It was like Rogen sabotaged the whole event. I was very disappointed that we didn’t have the killer instinct to win! I hope we don’t take that mentality in 2010.

  44. brad says:

    guys… Adu and Altidore should play and start on the u-20’s for the World Cup. The reality is, USA has not won any major international tournaments. If were going to start, it will take strong leadership and our very best under 20 players…..

  45. anthony says:


  46. Scott A says:

    I don’t think we should be as quick to dismiss players who haven’t completely developed by the time they’re at this age. Didier Drogba signed his first professional contract at 21 and was at a pretty small second division French side (Guingamp) until he was 25. An anomaly maybe, but you never know how players will develop and at what rate

  47. madmax says:

    I thought Rongen got a bit lucky as his team got shut out three times, and had very few total shots on goal. If Jamaica ties, USA goes home like Mexico. Not impressed.

  48. joel says:

    Egypt was the goal. I was disappointed with the loss.

  49. ed_hutch says:

    is a regression for both the players and the country for adu and altidore to play. we cant encourage our young players to be soft . they need to learn how to stay in a difficult situation and fight for playing time . “oh we understand that u cant get minutes with your club but come and play with the under-20 again and together we can achieve great things ” please give me a break

  50. Alex says:

    I agree with Madmax. I was not impressed. We should have scored more goals! We were expected to beat Jamaica. The rest of the performance seemed mediocre at best.

  51. brett says:

    papa bear- as for developing, im referring to them developing their career… they will earn the experience and the exposure through this tourny… this is not something we need to bring players who’ve been capped by the nats squad… they are already establish (as in known and exposed)…

    winning is not as impt to me in youth tournys as developing our player pool and exposing as many players as possible… of course i want Rongen to produce a solid competitive team but i do not want to call in 2 players who have not been a part of this cycle and who have played and will continue to play for the Seniors…

  52. Cam says:


    Maybe it’s your analysis which is off and not so much my typing. I was comparing the situation the players are in, not the individual players skill level.

    I’m definately not new to sport, I’ve been following it for 25 years. C. Ronaldo was a highly coveted player when he transfered to Man U in 03/04. He truly became a superstar after his performance in Euro 2004 where he helped take Portugal to the championship game.

    I don’t know what tournament you were watching in 2007, but Pato & Jo played incredible in the U-20 World Cup (the rest of the team failed to pick up the slack). And it was his dominance in the Brazilian domestic league that initially had European clubs interested in him, the 06 CWC was just a little icing on the cake.

    So please explain to me how the U-20 world cup hampered his development? He still had yet to prove he could hack it at a club like AC Milan prior to that point, just as Freddy and Jose have yet to do with their clubs.

  53. madmax says:

    Rongen was very fortunate not to be sent home like Mexico. Rongen is way past his prime.