Under-20 World Cup: USA vs. France: SBI Live Match Commentary



The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will be looking to rebound from a dismal defensive performance against Spain on Friday, but they’ll have their hands full with another European power when they face France today (ESPN2/ESPN3, 11am).

The French squad features a number of players getting regular minutes in Ligue 1, La Liga, or Serie A for their respective clubs, such as Juventus star Paul Pogba, and brings the challenge of a more physical game on top of frighteningly good technical skills.

Luis Gil will be counted on in attack once again for the U.S. as they try and unlock a sturdy France defense, one that allowed just one goal in a 3-1 victory over Ghana last Friday. The U.S. still can advance to the knockout stages with a third-place finish, but they need to try and win or nick a point off of France before taking their chances against Ghana.

SBI will be providing live commentary on today’s match so please feel free to follow the action here. As always, you are welcome to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below

Enjoy the action (Commentary is after the jump):

This entry was posted in U.S. Under-20 National Team, U.S. Youth National Teams, Under-20 World Cup. Bookmark the permalink.

109 Responses to Under-20 World Cup: USA vs. France: SBI Live Match Commentary

  1. Francois says:

    Why is Torre starting again? Misses a wide open, easy pass that gives the ball back to France.

  2. Francois says:

    The kids look good so far. Solid defensively, and attacking with the same skill we saw against Spain.

  3. zztoppppp says:

    I didn’t realize the amount of star power this France squad has. If we play them close and pull off a draw or win that would be huge.

  4. jones says:

    Looks like Ramos opted to keep Torre in the lineup for height reasons against the noticeably taller French team. O’neill is starting instead of Stanko. So lets just hope that the defense (and CMs) do a better job today…

  5. SanFran415 says:

    Love that we’re taking it to these better teams. Get it engrained in these kids at a young age. Results matter little at this age.

    • kimo says:

      While I certainly agree with you sentiment (results are meaningless / it’s how we play that’s ultimately important), I think our overall tactical awareness and organization is horrific. That can certainly be improved upon … greatly. This is a problem at all youth levels in the US all the way through the academies. There is no doubt, individual players are becoming much more technical than they were 10 years ago. However, defensively, and I’ve heard this repeatedly in the college coaching ranks, the kids are literally clueless when it comes to defending. Two of my friends that coach D1 teams have been forced to recruit abroad for their center backs and holding midfielders because of a lack of tactical awareness and individual defensive ability. Hopefully, as time goes on, this will change and the US can find a nice balance between technical ability and defensive awareness.

      • SanFran415 says:

        We’re changing that I think.

        I played in the ODP system when I was younger as a CB converted from a CM. I was moved back simply because I was 6’2 and could get up. My defensive positioning was atrocious but the coach said he wanted a big body back there.

        There were several kids smaller than me who sat on the bench who during practice could mark our best strikers out of the game 99% of the time, but they never got a chance to play because they weren’t as tall.

        I could give up a goal a game but clear every corner kick and free kick and my coach would be ecstatic. I was constantly out of position and that’s not something you learn at 16. I was always frustrated that I was pushed back into a position and the coach assumed I could do it simply because I was big.

      • SanFran415 says:

        We’re changing that I think.

        I played in the ODP system when I was younger as a CB converted from a CM. I was moved back simply because I was 6’2 and could get up. My defensive positioning was atrocious but the coach said he wanted a big body back there.

        There were several kids smaller than me who sat on the bench who during practice could mark our best strikers out of the game 99% of the time, but they never got a chance to play because they weren’t as tall.

        I could give up a goal a game but clear every corner kick and free kick and my coach would be ecstatic. I was constantly out of position and that’s not something you learn at 16. I was always frustrated that I was pushed back into a position and the coach @ssumed I could do it simply because I was big.

        • kimo says:

          I played ODP / regionals WAY back in the day … 2 decades ago … lol.

          I’m not sure anything has really changed from a defensive standpoint. Most defenders are converted midfielders or even forwards. That’s fine as long as they are taught how to play the positions. Currently, they are not being taught or at least that’s what has been conveyed to me. Most European based club are teaching tactics / defensive awareness at the U10 level so all the kids know what their responsibilities are all over the pitch. Here, the academies are not getting the kids until MUCH later. I think, in time, as the academies start getting kids at a younger age, we will see improvement. It’s a long process.

          However, on the technical side, today’s players are SO MUCH better than they were when I played. My friends that have been coaching for over 10 years have seen HUGE strides in the technical area. At least, that’s progress.

          • SanFran415 says:

            That’s unfortunate to hear. I stopped getting feedback about the system when my coach was stolen away by an MLS academy.

            Just have to tell ourselves–it’s a long, slow journey but we’ll get there.

    • Fredo says:

      The kids should expect their coach to put them in the best possible position to succeed. Ramos didn’t do that against Spain. Looks like he’s adjusted against France.

      • beachbum says:


        but results do matter also at this level, not just style of play development; no kid’s confidence needs to be defeated time after time

  6. jones says:

    Also, if Torre has another shocker, I’d feel really bad for the guy, being so out of his depth. It would be completely on the coach.

    • SanFran415 says:

      For sure.

      “Hey kid, I know you’ve only had 5 appearances as a bench player and freshman for your college team, but come mark two of the most explosive youth offenses in the world with players twice as fast and anything you’ve ever experienced in front of big crowds. Oh, and you’ll be picked apart by the media for simply being here and if you put one foot wrong they’ll demonize you.”

      Tab gets a lot right. He messed this one up.

      • jones says:

        To be fair, this type of game does suit his physical abilities better, but that doesn’t mean he should be starting.

        Anyways, I really hope he does well tonight; I don’t want to read another slew of comments on SBI doggin him.

  7. Eric says:

    Choppy game so far. A lot of little fouls by both sides.

  8. biff says:

    Nice article about a couple of the boys.

    Joya and Cuevas take unconventional route to the top
    link to sportingnews.com

  9. Francois says:

    Alonso Hernandez is killing us offensively. Cuevas should come in, with Mario Rodriguez sliding centrally.

  10. SanFran415 says:

    Some of the African-French players look 19 as Obafemi Martins looks 28. I believe they’re all born in France, but the physical development is freaky.

  11. SanFran415 says:

    The biggest thing I see so far is that the USA players are underestimating how fast the French players are in passing lanes and closing on 50/50 balls.

    Definitely something that can only come from playing against top talent.

    • GW says:

      There is a tendency to underestimate the speed of bigger, taller players.

      It’s easy to forget that taller guys have longer legs and cover more ground per stride.

  12. Francois says:

    Our kids need to get better in 2/3’s of the pitch that are most dangerous. The defensive and offensive 1/3.

  13. Francois says:

    Ocegueda doesn’t look that great, hopefully France does start picking on him and Torre.

  14. beckerman4lyfe says:

    Y no freddy adu in ths tournamnt?

  15. zztoppppp says:

    Cropper showing well today

  16. SanFran415 says:

    Cropper wrecked that kid at full sprint and just got up like nothing happened. Boss.

  17. Francois says:

    Villarreal and Gil should have finished both of those chances. Did well to set each other up though haha

  18. 2tone says:

    Rodriguez for me showed be subbed at half for Pineda.

  19. SanFran415 says:

    Good sign from Tab to pull Hernandez who wasn’t playing fast and smart. Love that he saw that and moved quickly.

  20. Pace says:


  21. Francois says:

    That’s not in the box, and he’s never getting to that ball. Horrible call.

  22. SanFran415 says:


  23. Pete says:

    Pogba is really impressive. Great touch and his long strides just eat up ground.

  24. Pete says:

    That could have been 2. Let off.

  25. Francois says:

    It’s amazing how little knowledge Darke and Twellman seem to have sometimes. The reason this French team is completely different from the Toulon tournament is because it was a U-21 side they took to that tourney…smh.

  26. SanFran415 says:

    Come on Gil. What a freaking awful penalty. Jesus.

    • Alex says:

      Gosh darn, if you know what I mean. Embarrassing for a kid who’s supposed to have had an offer from Arsenal.

    • Matt C in Tampa says:

      a couple of add’l comments about that PK.

      1. i think it was soft to begin with…US player went down pretty easily. Some call that being mature.

      2.The Gil shot was weak.

      3. Oddly/Strangely, the Ref spent a bunch of pre-penalty time making sure players were outside of the box..even talking to them. Then the France player was clearly in the box before Gil shot the ball…and THAT player cleared the rebound. Yes, i konw encroachment (if that’s what it’s called) is rarely called. However, it seemed the ref put a lot of emphasis on it…and then didn’t call it.

      In the end, fair result.

  27. beachbum says:

    it was a soft PK anyway, but man, that miss hurts

  28. Pete says:

    That was disappointing…

  29. Francois says:

    Horrible penalty…these kids can’t keep blowing chances like this. This is the difference between us and the top nations. When they get chances, they finish.

  30. Pete says:

    What a shot….wow

  31. Rim Job city says:

    USA is so far off with this u 20 squad. Disappointing.

  32. Pete says:

    France v Spain is going to be a fun one to watch.

  33. Clevelandfc says:

    Seems like they are bigger and stronger. It is like u21s vs u20s

    • Rim Job city says:

      We’re Spanish there African

      • fischy says:

        Notwithstanding the latent racism in your comment — the USA team is not Spanish. We do have a fair number of Hispanic players, though. I understand — you meant their language, like the African that the French players speak.

        • Rim Job city says:

          I meant ancestry really. Lot of the French players are of African decent. Lot of the Americans are of Mexican/ Hispanic…. Spanish decent. Idk how many have indigenous blood lines but I would guess not many considering the work Spain put in on that region in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries.

    • Pete says:

      Add experience too

  34. beachbum says:

    this team could use an aerial target too seems to me; set pieces have been anything but dangerous although the work to earn them is good, just unable to threaten to capitalize

  35. Austin says:

    Soccer By Ives:
    Daniel Cuevas is apparently the winner of the Joe Gyau Memorial “Why isn’t this kid getting more minutes in this youth tournament” Award.

    Ha! I sense a soccer meme a’brewin.

  36. zztoppppp says:

    Is it just me or does it look like Gil has given up since the missed PK?

  37. beachbum says:

    here’s another excellent chance, 84th minute…come on fellas!

  38. zztoppppp says:


  39. Francois says:

    Yes!!!! Cuevas!!!

  40. Francois says:

    Don’t give up a set-piece there! Needs to be smarter there, come on Benji.

  41. Francois says:

    Need to defend this corner.

  42. Francois says:

    Great point here! Well deserved!

  43. B 16 says:

    Saw the last few minutes of the match-impressed by the US. They didn’t back down to a highly rated French side-they took the game to them. (and the talk)

  44. Fredo says:


  45. Andy in Atlanta says:

    A couple of observations… (the latter part is only relating to style and size, nothing xenophobic intended)

    1. If you incorporate a bigger hold up forward… that does not mean you become a long ball team or a team that relies on crosses… In fact it really means that you have a guy that is a good outlet when you need to play it long out of trouble… AND a good hold up player brings all your “creative midfield’ players into the fray when he receives the ball with his back turned to goal.

    2. We have developed too much of a latin style… we are obsessed with trying to go through the middle instead of trying the flanks with cut backs and crosses… constantly losing possession from trying to go right down the middle in the attacking third… we are not El Tri from the mid 2000s…

    3. Our nearly 80% reliance on smaller Latino players could lead to a problem.. We will be overpowered by taller more physical sides, we have no ability on wide set pieces (besides lucky rebounds like today) and we overpass instead of being more direct… our team and attack needs more variation…

    4. SHORT CORNERS SUCK… only Spain makes them work… if you are a shorter team… it does not mean you cant score on headers… you play a lower driven ball and you beat your man to the spot… Watch Tim Cahill… heck even Taylor Twellman did it well back in his day… We waste more dangerous chances by over playing.

    All this said.. we got a beneficial (albeit lucky) result today and we can still make the next rounds.

    • Alexandro says:

      Andy, we’ve had this exact same system for the last 14,16 years. It’s taken us so far, with success here and there, but just not enough to get us pass the top footballing nations. You mention Spain being short and playing to their strengths, add Argentina and most southamerican countries to that list and you don’t see the big bulk, strength imposing football, yet you see them having success. What I would suggest is a mix of what Tab is trying to bring into the plate and what’s been tried for the last 14/16 years. Nothing guarantees success but is worth trying for a change. Thank you Tab

    • Kevin says:

      So what you’re saying is that we don’t have the best players playing? Who is exactly are we messing that these latino players are taking their place?

      • Andy in Atlanta says:

        Morris, Karoma, Zimmerman all should be on this roster… We have 9 players from California… sorry but that is excessive…. we need to spend more time in Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Washington, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina… these are states that are being ignored too much from our US Soccer youth program and have supremely talented players… California soccer is way over-rated at the youth level.

        We are not identifying players who have the ability along with athletic gifts… far too many of our superior athletes are being left to rot at the early youth levels and then move on to other sports when they do not develop… Every other country gets it’s best athletes… I saw a team that was out muscled the entire match today.

        Spain and Argentina are the exceptions to the rule… Look at Belgium, Germany, Holland, skill and power (our 2007 U20 was closest to this)… this is the football we should be striving for. Even Brazil has big time athletes mixed in with their teams now.

        • Alex says:

          “Spain and Argentina are the exceptions to the rule… Look at Belgium, Germany, Holland, skill and power (our 2007 U20 was closest to this)… this is the football we should be striving for. Even Brazil has big time athletes mixed in with their teams now.” Exactly my point, combination of strength and skill. However, suggesting that we should rely on the status quo is just more of the same. I agree with you when it comes to the scouting, unfortunately the pay to play deal hinders a lot of the probable Messi’s and Iniestas’ that are playing on our streets and local leagues

    • Francois says:

      How was our result lucky? We earned our draw with France today. I don’t know how you could watch that game and think that our result was lucky. Yes, France had a shot go off the crossbar, but their penalty wasn’t a penalty, we missed two very good chances AND a penalty of our own. If anything, we were unlucky that the breakthrough didn’t come sooner.

      • Andy in Atlanta says:

        We were second best a majority of the match. Cropper saved two breakaways. Our penalty was a clear dive (and yes their penalty was outside the box). The had several dangerous balls that whipped in and could not get on… we had few chances.

        Our goal came from a pinball that happened to go to the right man and he slotted it… (Cuevas should have been playing the entire match).

        • Francois says:

          They had four chances the whole game, we had at least 3 with Rodriguez’s shot that was deflected and then saved from Yedlin’s pull back. They may of had a slight edge the whole game, but to completely disregard a well-earned draw as luck is completely cynical. The boys played well defensively, and created some good chances. You seem to be the only one who thinks they don’t deserve the point the earned.

  46. Brett says:

    You guys blasting Gil for the PK….

    Watch Clint Dempsey take a PK. It’s uncanny how similar they are.

    • Alex says:

      Nobody said Clint was any better. I love Clint Dempsey but I don’t want him near the ball if it’s a PK. Not his strength. How does that let Gil off the hook?

      • Andy in Atlanta says:

        This…. I don’t want Clint anywhere near the penalty spot either… Gil got a little nervous, you could absolutely tell and the refs stoppage (twice) for encroaching French players was not helping either…

        The best penalty in the world is a ball hammered to one side of the other… nothing cute necessary, you cant stop a ball hammered 3 ft from the post on either side… stay over, have the laces go right through it and make the GK show how strong his hands are… Ask Cropper how hard that is to stop today…

        • Brett says:

          It wasn’t the nervousness that did him in, though it did lead to a very weak shot. He made everything predictable. From his first step his body was opened up meaning he could only drive the ball one direction. It was a bad PK, but let’s give the guy credit where he earns it as well. Even our current best player has looked as bad taking a PK.

      • Brett says:

        I didn’t say it let him off the hook, but I feared it may overshadow what he did well. Sometimes it helps to be reminded that even the best of us can make mistakes.

      • GW says:

        Deuce made the last penalty he took for the US.

    • jcro says:

      I thought he was going to break out his rosary beads, give confession and have a communion during his run up. sweet baby jeeesus!

  47. sushant says:

    Ahh, a good result against Ghana and we are through.

    Hmm, seems like a familiar scenario 😉

    God, please let Ramos put the best XI out there and not have poor personnel choices doom the US (cough, cough, Bradley & R.Clark)

  48. froboy says:

    does a win against Ghana guarantee us through?

    • fischy says:


    • WK says:

      probably need Spain to win out vs Ghana today and France in the last match, and then the US have to beat Ghana for any chance.

    • wfrw07 says:

      More or less. 4 of the 6 third place teams make it to the knockout, and it is nearly unheard of for a team with 4 points to not get through. I’d say 99.5% chance if we win.

  49. Glad to hear my boy Cuevas saved our bacon. Love watching that kid.

  50. David M says:

    Am I the only one to think that the US penalty was such an obvious dive by Rodriguez? I’m surprised that neither Twellman nor Darke said anything.

    • fischy says:

      No, no, and no.

      No, you’re not the only one who thought it was an obvious dive. No, that’s not Ian Darke doing the play-by-play. And, no, you’re wrong about your observation about the commentary. Both spoke of it as an undeserved penalty.

  51. juan says:

    Next time he
    better concentrate on his ball placement

  52. 2tone says:

    Yedlin sparked this team offensively in the second half. He was beasting France’s LB the last 30 minutes. Oddly enough winger is what Yedlin has primarily played hi entire carrer before going to college and then playing RB for the Sounders. His pace while dribbling is really something to watch. I would not be surprised if Yedlin is moved to winger against Ghana, and Sorto plays RB. yedlin was very good defensively in the first half as well, pretty much shutting down his side. France’s LB really was not a factor in the first half due to Yedlin.

    I think some people maybe even the editor should be eating some crow concerning him. He was good against Spain, but was lights out against France. And yes I can still see Klinsmann calling him up to the USMNT this year.

    • Brett says:

      His lack of quality in the final third is probably why he was pushed into an overlapping fullback role instead of a primary winger. I do really like how he attacks defenders though. With him in the senior setup we would be dangerous down both flanks.

    • TomG says:

      Yes Yedlin was the best player on the field for USA today. No, he shouldn’t be playing for the senior squad anytime soon. He still makes way too many mistakes as evidenced during the Spain match. He is a very dangerous offensive weapon at the u-20 level. What the Yedlineers are forgetting is that he’s a DEFENDER. His defensive technique is below average, his defensive awareness is below average he makes a ton of errors that will turn into goals on the intnl level. Tis is not surprising since he’s 19. He also doesn’t strike a good cross yet. he’s incredibly promising. I’d love to see him in a friendly or a similarly meaningless match to jump start his development, but he doesn’t belong anywhere near the pitch during the hex. Just be patient. His time will come soon enough if he keeps developing. He might even attract some European attention after this tourney.

  53. Chuck says:

    Great, now we ONLY have to win against Ghana. When has that gone wrong?

  54. louisz says:

    Yedlin call up for this year? I would be very surprised. Probably struddle camp in January.

  55. TomG says:

    O’Neill looked pretty good. Torre looked okay in the first but gave up the penalty and got burned by the long ball up the middle on several occasions in the second. Theyve officially renamed that play, “The Torre.” Tab must really like this kid. It’s kind of unfair to throw him in these matches, though, when he’s had all of 6 college games under his belt. You can tell that he’s just lacking experience and slow to react.

    Ocequeda was much better. Trapp was poor going forward but better in coverage. They did a much better job in general of not allowing France time and space on the ball.

    Gil was decent but didn’t take his chances. Hernandez was ineffective, Joya was better, though he’s gone next match with yellows I think. Mikey Lopez will have to step up. Villareal made a great pa$$ that Gil missed and missed a point blank header that he nodded to far post instead of just creasing the back of the net as he should. He was otherwise lacking the ball. Cuevas was electric as a sub, though he did miss a couple obvious pa$$ing chances.