Terrible defending dooms U.S. Under-20s in blowout loss to Spain in World Cup opener

TabRamosUSU20-2 (Mexsport)


For stretches of Friday’s Under-20 World Cup opener against Spain, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team looked more than capable of keeping up with the high-flying Spaniards. They even held a possession edge at one point and moved the ball around with some confidence for a long stretch in the first half.

Unfortunately for the Americans, a poor start and atrocious end to the first half doomed the U.S. to a blowout loss. A late Luis Gil goal provide small consolation as the Americans settled for a 4-1 thumping on Friday in Istanbul.

Barcelona star Gerard Deulofeu scored two goals and assisted in the first of two goals by Jese to lead the way for Spain, which feasted on a U.S. back-line that couldn’t keep up. UCLA defender Javan Torre had a painfully bad match for the U.S. playing in place of suspended starting centerback Shane O’Neill, playing a part in each of Spain’s first three goals, including a pair of Spain goals just before halftime that put the match out of reach.

The U.S. surrendered an early goal when Torre laid off Deulofeu enough to allow him space to deliver a perfect cross to Jese, who finished easily to make the score 1-0.

The U.S. shook off that early goal and nearly equalized in the 13th minute, only to have ALonso Hernandez push his clear chance wide.

The Americans pressed high up the field and did well to hold their own in the possession battle with Spain, but where the Spaniards proved too tough to handle was on the counterattack, where the U.S. defense’s frailties were exposed.

Torre was particularly shaky, but he wasn’t alone as left back Juan Pablo Ocegueda endured a bad game as well.

There were few bright spots for the Americans, with Gil being the best of the bunch. He helped create good chances, and made the most of his touches, and scored the goal of the match with a beautiful left-footed strike in the second half to keep the U.S. from being shut out.

Now the U.S. heads into a second group match against France on Tuesday knowing that another bad loss would likely doom their chances of a place in the quarterfinals. O’Neill will return from suspension, while injuries to Danny Garcia and Alonso Hernandez could force Ramos into more changes.

What did you think of the match? Who impressed you for the U.S.? What changes would you make to the lineup heading into the France match?

Share your thoughts below.

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176 Responses to Terrible defending dooms U.S. Under-20s in blowout loss to Spain in World Cup opener

  1. Dont Care says:

    You cant expect to win when Ramos wont call in the best players

    • b Shurley says:

      Pardon my ignorance as I don’t follow the youth sides as well as I should, but you should have been called in and what would be the best XI?

      • Travis says:

        A real CB would be a start, for instance Zimmerman

        • 2tone says:

          Who was injured.

          • Travis says:

            I was under the impression that he had recovered and had been making sub appearances for Dallas. Regardless a natural CB should have been selected.

            • 2tone says:

              Zimmerman was injured again in late May.

              • TomG says:

                No, he’s recovered and healthy and playing for Dallas.

              • 2tone says:

                Hence he is a natural CB. A lot of youth players get converted when they are young. If you play CB as a pro you are a natural CB.

            • 2tone says:

              O’Neill is a natural CB. He was out with a red card suspension

              • Travis says:

                So you think 1 CB is enough for a tournament? Well then

              • 2tone says:

                Never said one CB is good enough, but there is no one else.

              • Hogatroge says:

                O’Neill’s not a natural CB. He’s a converted midfielder.

                That said he’s logged most of his professional minutes as a CB. However, he’s played most of his professional minutes this season, since being used as a CB in CONCACAF U-20 qualification.

              • jmadsen says:

                Sorry to troll, but..really annoying when you read some armchair manager who knows so much better than a respected former professional, yet isn’t even up on which players are available.

                I try to always post with the assumption that I’m the least knowledgeable soccer player reading; saves me tons of embarrassment

          • M says:

            And Brooks has yet to commit, Packwoo
            Is injured and so on and so on. Yet people act like Ramos purposely did not try and get the best defenders smh

      • Dont Care says:

        Jalen Robinson would have slide right into the CB slot, Any one of the Brandon Allen, Jordan Morris, Christian Mata trio would have given this team an actual target forward that can finish, Jordan Allen would have given this team another speedy outside back in the Yedlin mold who is 100x better than Ocegueda. Not to mention Zach Steffen is better shot stopper and overall GK prospect than Cropper and should have started

    • futbolisimo says:

      Another example of a match in which U.S. players were totally outclassed, in terms of individual skill and tactical capabilities. The game wasn’t necessarily a thing of beauty in terms of rhythm on Spain’s part, however it was very clear it was “boys to men.” The U.S. will continue to fail on the national stage if it, even partially, uses the college soccer “system” to rely on the development of talent, and of course, not to omit, the MLS’s non-pyramid system of professional futbol. “Reserve” teams in MLS amount to nothing more than glorified youth teams, when compared to the reserve teams of the 1st division leagues abroad (Europe, South America, etc..

      • alf says:

        No you’re wrong. When defending is put on the back burner then this happens. We had our share of the game but when you defend like that you’re always going to look out classed but we’re so close to being there. Ramos just got some selections wrong.

      • Aaron says:

        I have to disagree with you, sir. Like Ives mentions, we had the run of play for long stretches during the match. I feel great about some of our young offensive talent become successful professionals and helping out on the senior side in the not too distan future. Could our “thrown together” back four keep up with their forwards? Not at all. Doesn’t mean our side didn’t show a lot of upside.

      • beachbum says:

        not that simple

      • super star says:

        Sorry, you are wrong. US soccer suffers compared to other nations because soccer in the US is the 4th or 5th choice for the natural athletes. Actually, the ONLY way the US game will improve is when we have MORE college programs with scholarships to lure the natural athlete into soccer and to stick with it (in the hopes of getting a college scholarship)

        This is an undeniable truth about US soccer. Trying to make US like them will not work, ever.

        • Jeff says:

          I think the U.S. did play well. Some defensive slip-ups, but overall they did fine against a really good Spanish team. Let’s not forget that most of these players from Spain have quite a bit more experience under their belts at this particular point of time, but that’s not to say that by 24-25, the US players won’t be at a much more competitive level.
          But let’s stop using the excuse that “real athletes” or whatever, don’t pick soccer. Who is a natural athlete anyway? Would a guy who is 7 feet tall and can dribble a ball with their hands figure as a Messi in the making? Or a 300 pound gorilla that can run really, really fast in a straight dash? There are folks in many countries who could be amazing players but choose to follow other professions outside of sports. What about them? Should we be crying over a would-be Pele deciding to be an architect or lawyer or teacher? No. You develop the players that you have and try to make that process the best possible, hoping that you will get a few stars in there. The gifted ones tend to gravitate to the sport that they most enjoy.

          • beachbum says:

            It’s not an excuse, it’s a reality. I would argue that pretending it’s not part of the equation is naive

            and I still believe we can coach up who we have and play competitively, but gaining the better athletes to pick soccer in the US and dream of World Cups will pay dividends, even though it’s a skill based sport. Better athletes who also are skilled…that’s what we need to keep pushing forward on imo, not one or the other

            you can’t teach speed for example, and Spain was much faster than us and used it to hurt us…along with their clinical final 3rd finishing. It was a combo of athleticism and skill

        • Futbolisimo says:

          Trying to lure better athletes to the college game will never work. The NCAA has a strangle-hold over the system that inhibits development when compared to the developmental system all over the world.

    • downintexas says:

      Other than Zimmerman, who has been hurt since MLS preseason, minus the last month. Who would you bring in?

      Lets not crucify Ramos yet. Did anyone think we were going to win? We played well and created chances

      • TomG says:

        This team plays like the image of Tabare, himself. Offensively, great technique and ideas. Defensively, very little technique and no physical presence. They don’t close out shooters and crossers properly and the marking and organization is lacking. Is this a coincidence or is he choosing players in his image and not focusing on the defensive side.

        • Paul Miller says:

          Part of the blame has to be on the entire current youth system, which I’ve said for years was primarily focused on one phase of play. We don’t develop defenders very well.

          We used to, like three to four decades ago, because it was the only player we knew how to develop. I played in high school at that time, and our coach (who never played himself) ran us through basketball-like defensive technique drills every day at practice.

          I think it showed in national team results, too. We weren’t a good national side in the 80s – certainly wouldn’t argue otherwise. But we were hard to score on. Part of it was because we constantly played in a defensive shell. But our defenders were disciplined and rarely out of position. They didn’t fall asleep on their assignments, like we see a couple times a game nowadays.

          Now, every youth coach knows Coerver training approaches and can tell you why he uses them or doesn’t (and that’s great), but a youth travel team that pays anything more than lip service to individual defender techniques and unit defensive tactics is an oddity.

        • Paul Miller says:

          (Forget about having to scrub for as-s words like as-signment… so I’ll try again.)

          Part of the blame has to be on the entire current youth system, which I’ve said for years was primarily focused on one phase of play. We don’t develop defenders very well.

          We used to, like three to four decades ago, because it was the only player we knew how to develop. I played in high school at that time, and our coach (who never played himself) ran us through basketball-like defensive technique drills every day at practice.

          I think it showed in national team results, too. We weren’t a good national side in the 80s – certainly wouldn’t argue otherwise. But we were hard to score on. Part of it was because we constantly played in a defensive shell. But our defenders were disciplined and rarely out of position. They didn’t fall asleep on their as-signments, like we see a couple times a game nowadays.

          Now, every youth coach knows Coerver training approaches and can tell you why he uses them or doesn’t (and that’s great), but a youth travel team that pays anything more than lip service to individual defender techniques and unit defensive tactics is an oddity.

    • whoop-whoop says:

      Looking at how Spain owned Italy at the u21 Euros puts things in perspective. A country noted for developing some of the most capable defenders on the planet was made to look pedestrian.

      Of those available, how was Ramos to magically produce CBs capable of handling the VERY best in the world and do tell… who are these guys?? Sorry, but insert whatever name of available US CBs you wish… the result would be much the same. We could have been purely result oriented, packed all 10 in the box for a the chance at a more palatable score, but we chose to emphasize playing a style we are trying to develop and learned much more about ourselves playing toe to toe. w/ Spain. Sooooo, in one respect, we got exactly what was to be expected- humbled, in other ways, we held our own quite well, learned much and have reason for hope.

      • Gary Page says:

        I agree completely. Anyone who thought the US could hang with Spain was delusional. We actually played better than I expected and are starting to play like Klinsmann wants all US teams to play. Spain is on a different level from the rest of the world.

      • futbolisimo says:

        Bravo. Well written.

      • beto says:

        true, whenever anyone plays to win vs Spain (assuming that their youth teams are just like their senior sides..which they seem to be) they have a slim chance at a victory and greater chance at getting defeated by multiple goals..

        in retrospect if Tab really wants to advance in this tournament he should have bunkered and counter attacked.. maybe a lower score would have helped, but thats not this team and thats just the way it is..

        i wish we had packwood, brooks, zimmerman, o’neil, pelosi, anyone other than a UCLA make shift CB right now but i don’t think we do..

        in my opinion the one thing we should have done different is start Lopez over Joya, more defensive, and hold Lopez-Gil and the two fullbacks in defense a bit more. everyone on this team wants to attack and this exposed the defense too much..

    • APK says:

      Better American players wouldn’t have made a difference. U.S. just can’t compete with elite foreign power houses when it comes to individual skill and tactical awareness.

      • alf says:

        You are totally wrong.

        • APK says:

          How so? I don’t think the U.S. players are up to snuff. It’s just too tough to compete against the elite nations. The U.S. players, for the most part, are products of the college soccer “system” or MLS, which is terribly weak (tactically and in terms of individual creativity). Until the U.S. emulates the rest of the world’s pyramid structure of pro futbol (relegation, true reserve teams, etc.), we got a long way to go before we will have players (and coaches not to mention) as skilled and savvy as the elite competition.

  2. bryan says:

    this was a disappointing game. no, i don’t think anyone expected the US to win. a tie would have been a good result. but there were two things that would have been nice to see:

    1. good quality, possession soccer with good passing and creating chances
    2. don’t get blown out

    #1 was actually good for the 1st half. but then our defense just completely fell apart and instead of going into halftime 1-0, it’s 3-0. then the 2nd half, well, it was clear Ramos’ halftime talk didn’t really do anything. sure, that half ended 1-1, but aside from the defense, we actually seemed to play better in the 1st.

    it’s too bad Alonso didn’t finish that chance in the 1st that would have tied it 1-1. the US must get a result against France. a tie would do. the game against Ghana was likely to always be the game that determined if we progress or not…the results today essentially cement that.

  3. KKS says:

    The bad news is, Javan Torre is really godawful and had no business being on that field. I have no idea why Walker Zimmerman wasn’t called up. I thought Stanko acquitted himself ok, and I was disappointed that Trapp got caught forward too many times–though he was tidy in possession.
    The good news is, it’s not like the US had garbage possession with no chances created, either. Gil created three or four nice chances by himself, and was active in circulating the ball around, especially out to the wings. Kid’s a stud. I was really pleased with his performance.

    • Mike says:

      I’m not too familiar with the youth players so who should Ramos have brought in besides Zimmerman?

      • Mike says:

        This reply was for the previous comment. Damn phone.

      • KKS says:

        He should have called in Zimmerman. It’s a shame about all the injuries the US U20s have suffered though…Will Packwood and Marc Pelosi would both start on this team at center back and in central midfield, as would Jack McBean at striker.

        • Travis says:

          McBean would not start on this team at striker, the others I agree with but I don’t even think McBean would make the team.

          • KKS says:

            Have you seen him play for the Galaxy? He’s huge, good with his back to goal, has a great first touch, and can finish. I rate him way higher than Villarreal, who, as we saw today, has a tendency to try to do way too much instead of playing simple.

            • Travis says:

              Ive seen them both play and regardless of what I think it is clear that Ramos rates Villareal much higher as do most. Even if McBean had been healthy I would have been shocked if he had been chosen, has he featured in qualifying at all?

            • Socom 2 says:


              He’s huge?

              Please, he broke his collerbone on weak contact with larentowicz

              soccer players are soft

            • Alexandro says:

              Please people, can we start deviating from forwards a la McBean (McBride). He was great but we need to stop depending on this big tall forward good his his back to goal. What else can he provide? We need quick, smart, skillful, good at 1v1 or 1v2, creative! Are the ones Ramos took the best? There could be others, but McBean is not one of them

              • beachbum says:

                why? we need to depend on the best players. they may be big, they may not be big. He’s not just a big guy btw.

        • bryan says:

          mcbean wouldnt even be on the team…

          • TomG says:

            Debatable, but he’s certainly doesn’t fit into the type of players Tab has called in.

    • b says:

      Gil was a beast today. He was so good on the ball. He created so many clear cut chances that were squandered. I loved that he kept ahold of the ball and just finished it himself on the goal. As an RSL fan, I’m kind of scared that someone’s going to buy him up if he keeps playing like that in this tourney.

    • Dennis says:

      I hate it when anyone says any player on a USMNT is awful, especially so for youth players, it is generally an unfair comment and always inaccurate. Of course, it was pretty clear that the US defense was less athletic than the Spanish attack, that was partly a result of Ramos selection of technical skill above all else. The decisions the US backs made were not good and they were not as fast as Spain’s wings (except for perhaps Yedlin who athletically and technically looked like the best US back, but his constant pushing forward helped leave the US exposed in the back). The US mistakes got punished and the US did not similarly punish Spain’s less than stellar defending (at least 3 major miscues by Spain gifted the US the ball in scoring positions when Spain was not ready to defend and the US did not capitalize).

  4. Wess says:

    That challenge on Garcia was horrible, and should have been a red card. Gil and Yedlin were bright spots. The USA could honestly beat France and Ghana if they fix there defensive errors.

    • John666 says:

      You must be a joker to think USA can beat France and Ghana . USA won’t win any match in their group of death .

      • Gary Page says:

        What do you know about Ghana that I don’t know?

        • Joe A. says:

          If I’m not mistaken they won the last tournament.

          • Joe A. says:

            Actually it was the one before that but either way they’re a top team.

            • lol says:

              not really they lost to France.You guys have only chance against Ghana.

              • John666 says:

                This is the first time Ghana has even lost a group match in this Competition in History of Ghana playing In under-20. France did well to break that record today.

      • Dennis says:

        The US looked very capable at times, but was guilty of horrible defending. Some of that was due to a lack of speed on the US’s part, but a lot of it was tactical errors and those can be fixed. It is certain that the US will have to fix things defensively, but that is perhaps the simplest thing to fix. Things that cannot be fixed in the course of a tournament such as technical ability actually looked pretty good for the US. And the US seemed capable of possession even in Spain’s half. It is a bit early to pronounce this team out of it. After all if all you had to do was pronounce which was the best team and simply awarded them the trophy, there would be need to actually play the games.

    • KKS says:

      I think the necessary tactical tweaks are actually pretty straightforward. O’Neill for Torre and Mikey Lopez for Joya. The former gives you competence in place of whatever the hell we saw today, and the latter allows for Trapp to get forward to support the attack without leaving the back 4 totally stranded. I think Lopez has a better sense than Joya of when it’s appropriate to be high and when it’s appropriate to rotate back in front of the back 4. Plus I think he’s a little more physical and a better tackler. The hope is also that a Trapp-Lopez pairing will allow Gil to get forward more freely, and that can only be a good thing.

    • alf says:

      I agree. Refereeing was terrible and not just the ones against us. That was a clear PK in the first 15 minutes that we should have gotten against us.

  5. mikeg says:

    When I compare basketball and soccer…we need to play soccer better. Why would Ramos call in the best players? Does not make sense at the World Cup U20 tournament.

  6. Helium-3 says:

    We didn’t have fast, quick players to play at this level. Guys expected to receive ball at their feet and outplay Spain at their own type of posession game. Our guys are technical but you need some combination of speed and quickness too with the good technical ability.

    Trapp blew an easy chance after the ball was served up to him.

    Hope we have guys who can beat France with speed because they have faster players with individual skill than Spain.

    • bryan says:

      i disagree with this assessment. the issues were in defense. everything else was actually pretty promising given the opponent. i would agree our defense, aside from Yedlin, weren’t quick enough in speed and decision making. but our midfield and strikers actually did well.

      it’s really too bad we collapsed at the end of the 1st half for 2 quick goals. and man, that was a clear red card on Garcia…that would have helped.

  7. 2tone says:

    I look at these youth tournaments in a different light. I look for the few players that will make the jump to the USMNT. And in Gil and Yeldin the USMNT may just have future stars. In Yedlins case he may be heading to the USMNT sooner rather than later.

    Both Gil and Yeldin were the standouts, and both will have a say in the US performing better against France. Good luck to the boys as they continue on their journey at the U-20 WC.

    • louis z says:

      Didn’t Yeldin get beat for the first goal? a similar play that he got beat in MLS not too long ago? Look, I think the kid is good, love his forward game but he needs lots to learn, I just don’t think he is ready for the big boys.

      • kcee says:

        No Yedlin did not get beat persey. Literally everyone shifted over, and that jackass playing rb didn’t cover the cross at all. There could have been 3 or 4 players slip in behind Yedlin. He was completely let down by the idiot who let the cross come in, in the first place. Cover the damn ball, dunno who that was but jeezus, he just stood there like dufus. The Spaniard was on the endline he should have played that shit out or at least got up on him so he had to pass it out or the Spaniard could play it off him for a corner. All of which would have been appropriate.

      • divers suck says:

        Nope, it was the LB that got schooled and allowed Deulofeu(sp?) a free run along the touch line to pick Jesse out for the easy goal. Yedlin got brushed aside on the 2nd goal, but the shot was filthy good. The longer Yedlin keeps logging minutes in MLS, he’ll learn how to deal with the physical side that much better. One can already see the difference this year in that regard….I agree that judging on this match vs Spain, Gil and Yedlin far out shined the rest of this US bunch.

      • florean says:

        No, watch the first goal again. Yedlin was the best US player involved, but he got screwed by his midfielders and centerbacks, as well as the keeper. If you look at 4:12, the LB is probably still at the center line while the Spanish player with the ball is almost to the touch line. So a CB has been pulled out wide to put pressure on the ball (but gives him 5 yards of space). There are two other Spanish players and our other CB and Yedlin, so it’s 3 on 3. Not great, but not bad. Yedlin looks back, he knows where Jese is. But the 2nd CB starts to drift towards the ball, pulling Yedlin towards the near post. Which is fine, he still knows where Jese is and he’s close enough he should be able to intercept or pressure the ball if it comes in. But then a 4th Spanish player comes crashing into the box completely unmarked making a run for the near post. Meanwhile, if you look at Cropper, he is actually standing outside of his near post. That should never, ever happen. Yedlin makes the correct decision and moves to cut off the free runner at the near post. But the aerial cross goes to Jese at the far post and he has to reverse direction to try to get to it. If Cropper is better positioned, he has a chance to get to that ball (Yedlin gets closer than Cropper and he had to turnaround; Cropper should have been there), but if there isn’t a free runner or if our other CB doesn’t drift toward the ball, Yedlin can shutdown Jese. I haven’t watched the rest of the game yet, but if it went anything like that, then the problem is that we only have one Yedlin in our back line and he’s used to playing with professionals.

    • Hogatroge says:

      You’re kidding if you think Yedlin will be headed to the senior team any time soon. Yeah, he was decent going forward, but he was consistently out of position.

      The only player on this roster with the remotest chance of seeing the senior team before the 2014 WC–and then only probably for a Camp Cupcake if JK holds one–will be Gil.

      If Joya gets some senior team minutes, he could be in camp in some throwaway friendlies near the end of 2014 or in early 2015.

      • divers suck says:

        Disagree, it’s easy to see that Tab Ramos wants Yedlin to get forward as much as possible. It’s up to him to gameplan for such runs. Gil pulling the strings (brilliantly at times) in the middle, is not out on an “island” as much as Yedlin and more often than not Yedlin has more than enough speed to track back….Either way, as most folks have already mentioned, Gil and Yedlin were the stars of the game and most certainly didn’t look out of place vs Spain….

        • beachbum says:

          It’s both Ramos needing to gameplan for it AND Yedlin making better decisions on when to go, which he was just OK at I’d say. That comes with experience so we’ll have to watch and see as he develops

      • 2tone says:

        You have to be kidding me if you think Joya would be called in. There is a reason why Deulofeu didn’t scoere more goals and that is because of Yedlin. Ramos wanted Yedlin pushed up higher hence why it seemed like he was out of position.

        And yes I wouldn’t be surprised if yedlin is called in to the January Camp. You seem to be the only person who thought Yedlin was bad.

  8. Christian says:

    Torre was crap and Stanko is not a CB. Why Zimmerman isn’t on the squad is beyond me.

    • 2tone says:

      He was injured again in late May. Christ people.

      • Byrdman says:

        It’s not Jesus fault people don’t know about injuries. Don’t blame Him.

        • Aubie4Prez says:

          Injured players don’t start and play on 5/25 and make the bench on 6/1 and 6/15 for their club.

      • The Missing Centerback says:

        He was back on the bench as an available sub for FCD’s game at Portland last week, so he should have been available for these games.

        Certainly he hasn’t been as healthy or playing as much as any coach would like, so there is a valid argument as to why he’s not there. However, given the lack of alternatives I would have rather he rolled the dice with Zimmerman coming back from his injury rather than starting guys out of position who weren’t up for the challenge. In the few games Zimmerman has played with FCD this year, he’s looked very good at CB. And that’s despite being a MLS rookie who missed the entire preseason.

        • jlm says:

          if this were the senior world cup, then risk it, but this is a youth tournament. Not worth it to rick further injury. Let him heal fully with no rush back to the field. Let him compete for a position with Dallas. No reason to rick anything for a youth tournament — remember, it is not about results here. That is why we played a high line against Spain…

      • TomG says:

        He’s NOT injured. Good lord.

        • downintexas says:

          Zimmerman is not hurt!! But I don’t think he can go a full 90 yet. I think Ramos said that a week or so ago,

          • 2tone says:

            When Ramos had to send in his final 21 Zimmerman was not healthy enough. Maybe he is now.

  9. oculus says:

    The attack is great , however the defending is not.

    • MikeG says:

      Too many times our CB were left to play 1 on 1 with Spain’s forwards. Might have to go with 2 DM’s

  10. TD says:

    Glasswas half full as far as I’m concerned. Liked the possession and willingness to go forward. I’ve been watching USA soccer since the ’80s. The reality is that we have rarely held possession at any level against an elite team. Spain is one of the best programs right now. We attacked them and held possession. We had defenders going forward. No doubt Spain was the better team. Their counter was ruthless, their ability to play out of pressure was superior, and their first touch was better to the man. However, I love that we have kids that don’t have to just sit back and absorb pressure and hope for one or two cracks at the goal. If our could finish as well as Spain, we could have had 2-3 more.

    • Dennis says:

      Actually the place Spain was susceptible was playing out of the back under pressure. They committed at least 3 bad turnovers as a result of their inability to do that all of which should have been punished by US goals. (They were not, Yedllin missed, Hernandez missed and the 3rd was wasted without even taking a shot.) In addition to better defending against the attack, the US MUST punish those kinds of mistakes.

  11. Colin in MT says:

    I only had a chance to watch the first half, so take this comment for what it’s worth. Obviously our CB’s and D-mid were exposed. However, I came away from that half very impressed by the team overall. We didn’t sit back, bunker and wait to get Spain on the counter attack. We took the game to Spain. We pressured them in their defensive third and made them uncomfortable on the ball. There were some great combinations, great off the ball movement, and great chances created. Granted, we didn’t finish our chances, which I find more frustrating then our defensive issues. I’d much rather lose to Spain 4-1 playing that way then lose by 1 or 2 by bunkering and counter attacking.

    I think the technical ability, and lack of fear of Spain displayed by our team greatly outweighs the defensive issues. And I think these characteristics bode well for the future of US soccer.

    • Jesse D says:

      +1 I was surprised at the quality on the ball and just good attacking runs we made. There were a few standouts. Gil is clearly one.

    • JJ says:

      +1….NO team holds more possession than Spain at any level…their freakin U19 and U21 Champs…they will probably be U20 Champs as well. If we just has some centerbacks, a left back with a liiiiitle more pace, and a liiiitle more competent GK. We could do something great with theses kids. 7 out of 11 kids impressed the heck outta me today.

    • Todd Marsch says:

      +1 The US is in that transitional phase where we want to start playing the big boys on their terms, i.e. not just bunkering and hoping to counter every once in a while, but aren’t at their level yet. At some point, you have to take the risk of trying to play an open, attacking style against the best teams in the world if you want to get to their level. In the process, you’re going to take some lumps, but we’ll never grow without doing so. Our younger players need to get used to the idea that just because you step on the field with a US jersey across from guys wearing Spanish jerseys, you don’t have to bunker.

      The US is kind of similar to Japan in that regard. In the Confed Cup, Japan came out trying to take the game to Brazil and ended up with a pretty big loss. The next game, they tried to take it to Italy and were very unlucky not to come away with at least a point. Japan’s not there yet, but you can see them getting closer.

  12. Ben says:

    It’s nice to see a team with technique, but our defense was rather naive, though that probably due to the fact we don’t have any centerbacks, and the left back wasn’t so good, either. Overall, Gil really stood out, even against the Spaniards. I can definitely see Klinsi calling him up for some friendlies, and if we qualify with games to spare, which we should, I think Gil we get e look once we are in Brazil.

  13. Ali Dia says:

    I was very impressed with the way the mids and forward were able to sustain the aggressive high press against a team like Spain. Spain clearly did not expect this, and were forced into a noticeably large number of cheap giveaways. However, this strategy is always a bit of a gamble and depends on having quality center backs who can defend against the break (and, ideally, turning that pressure into an early goal to make the pace more manageable).

    We didn’t have a good defense today, but somehow the loss feels better than a 2-0 defeat with 80/20 Spain possession. At least there were points to build on.

  14. Mike R says:

    Torre = Bornstein 2.0

    Did anyone expect otherwise ?

    Is there anyone who actually believes US soccer decelopment is progressing?

    • Byrdman says:

      A lot of us. Read the posts above.

    • JJ says:

      Yes…quite obviously actually. When we beat Spain in the confed cup, possession was probably 75% spain. Today it was 50-50 and we could’ve scored a few more goals with a little luck. We just have no depth in defense right now. MLS development leagues are improving with their homegrown players.

      • Anthony says:

        this U20 Spanish side is known for not playing “tiki-taka” like the U21 and senior squads.

      • Mike R says:

        Can’t compare youth tournaments to senior squads or Mex and Nigeria would be perennial World Cup favorites which they clearly are not. It would be like saying that Alabama would win the Super Bowl if they stayed together.

        Fact is we still have too little technical ability training. Almost all our technical players have foreign backgrounds or immigrant parents.

        So 50-50 possession against a youth team means nothing for future of US soccer.

        A better indicator are ind stars on the team that might be special on sr team which we have none

    • beto says:

      Mike R – WRONG!

      Torre is a great prospect CB/DEF playing (months ago) in college; not quite at this level yet.

      as for US Soccer development – or “decelopment” as you call it – if you are not impressed how this team thru qualifying and this game play smooth passing possession style.. well your probably just concerned with the score line. I remember a few years ago when everyone was tired of the empty bucket ball and claimed it would take a generation to get to this point… personally i am amazed that we got this far so quickly; the results will come in due time..

      • beachbum says:

        maybe, but not until we have defenders who can play this way AND actually defend too…we don’t on this team it looks like

    • TomG says:

      Bornstein plays LB. you’re not making any sense.

      • Mike R says:

        I am referring to Boenstein almost single handedly being responsible for the loss in the Gold Cup final vs Mex

  15. John666 says:

    USA will lose their next two games that for sure. France is far better than USA and Ghana will for sure beat USA in their last group match to go through to next round . 1. Spain 2,France 3, Ghana . My prediction for next round .

    • JJ says:


    • MikeG says:

      I saw France play Mexico in a friendly…France will put on a clinic…we may have to play with 2 DM’s and counter attack them.

      • 2tone says:

        Which French team the one in the Toulon Tourney? Because this is an entirely different team then the one in the Toulon Tourney.

    • beto says:

      it might take a miracle to get third place, but as long they continue to play well and learn something it might be worth while.. one win vs. either of the next two would be monumental though!

  16. cencalfooty says:

    I was somewhat impressed by these boys. I saw good amounts of pressure defensively. A few.chances early on should’ve been scored and its a different game. Gil was solid.
    As Ali dia above said the high pressure was a risk that didn’t pay off because of our D and missed chances. At least we played positively and didnt bunker

  17. Brian says:

    I happen to be traveling through Istanbul today coming one from a business trip, so I was lucky enough to catch the game live. Here are some observations I had…

    – Galatasaray has a nice stadium…but it is about an hour by public transportation from southern part of the city. And about 30-40 mins from Taksim Square. But it is pretty comfortable. Good field too.

    – As Ives said the two centerbacks were just awful. For being the captain of the team I expect a lot more from Stanko. He gave nothing to the team from a leadership point of view. It was always Cropper and Benji Joya trying to get the team going after Spain would score. As for Torre, Spain just ate him up all night. Spain’s forwards would start their runs 10 yards behind Torre for long balls and they were still smoking him. It was almost as if they gave up possession on purpose because they knew they could beat our central defenders every time over the top with speed. Kinda. Like how their senior team played Tahiti the other night…

    – Yedlin was pretty solid on the right, but the first goal was 100% his fault. I watched Jese from Spain (the first goal scorer) race right down the line and the entire way Yedlin never gave him a look back. He was watching the ball the whole time. During the build up when Jese was racing down the field I even said to myself that he was about to score because he went completely unmarked and Yedlin didn’t even look at him. That being said, afer the first goal Yedlin shut that side of the field down and Spain had to run everything down the middle and left side. Jese even had to switch sides after he lost a few foot races with Yedlin.

    – JP Ocegueda looked completely uninterested the entire match. He never communicated, he just stood around most of the time and Ramos did nothing about it.

    – Speaking of Ramos…he was absolutely out coached tonight. Spain’s coach was constantly giving his players instructions and teaching them. Ramos literally stood there and watched until about 10 mins to go when he finally got on to Ocegueda. I was sitting about 10 rows back in the center and wanted to yell at Ramos to start coaching and stop watching. Was very disappointed.

    – since the defense was getting beaten so badly, I still don’t know why Ramos continued to have them play such a high line. Torre needed about a 20 yard head start to keep up with Spain’s forwards. Bad coaching…

    – It sucks that Garcia got hurt and it was bad, but he was a waste out there except for his one shot. He would stand around and do nothing when the ball wasn’t near him, and then when he got it he would dribble right in to traffic and lose it. We were playing good possession soccer and Garcia would kill it every time. He should have come off at half with Ocegueda.

    – That being said Garcia’s replacement Cuevas wasn’t much better.

    – I loved the play of Gil, Joya, Villareal, and Hernandez – they constantly pressured Spain’s keeper and made him make a ton of bad distributions. They were also knocking it around pretty well.

    – The match was pretty testy from the start. It might not have been on camera, but Spain were playing pretty dirty the entire time, which was disappointing. They were trying to bait the US players the entire time and it started to work near the end.

    – let me repeat – a bad coaching job by Ramos…

    • MikeG says:

      The US was pressing on Defense…and doing it while playing a high Defensive line…too many times the CB’s were caught in 1 on 1 situations and getting beat.

    • mattchew says:

      Agreed. Especially after appreciating the prodding, instructing and encouraging increasingly shown by Klinnsman to maximum effect at the senior level. Sitting around mute while players are making mistakes is unacceptable.

    • Jake says:

      That said, we still could have had more goals in this match. It was very frustrating to see a guy have a good lane while making a run and then the final pass was over hit. I am guessing we could have had at least two more one vs. one on the keeper.
      I think this is where Spain showed their class. The accurate passing in the final third from Spain made a difference on some of their goals (as much as our crap defending).

    • florean says:

      Wow, you are completely wrong about the first goal. Watch it again and read my post higher up where I break it down. For example, you’re factually wrong when you say Yedlin never looked back and watched the ball the whole time. He looks back at 4:19, 4:20, and at 4:22 he looks directly at Jese and again at 4:23. At 4:24, he HAS to come and cover the unmarked runner making a near post run. Again, read my post. He was let down by his CBs, his keeper, and his midfield. He was the only US player that had correct positioning on that whole play.

      • Brian says:

        Again – I was at the game I don’t have the benefit of replay or my dvr in my hotel room in Istanbul. That being said I was just going based on watching Jese race down the field with no one around him. And seeing Yedlin sitting in the box and not giving him a glance (must have missed his directly looking at him at the 4:23 mark for an entire second)…

    • Ricardo says:

      I have seen him coach a lot…..he can’t coach

  18. ACS says:

    Like Ives said in the commentary a healthy Packwood with a commitment ready Brooks and it’s a different ball game.

  19. MikeG says:

    2 DM’s, counter attack, 2 forwards..and a Motrin.

  20. Harry S says:

    Can anybody see Gil getting a call from an European team

    • b says:

      If he keeps playing like that, absolutely. This tournament is heavily scouted. Adu made his move to Europe just a couple weeks after playing in this tourney.

  21. Chris says:

    This loss has to be put on the shoulders of tab ramos for multiple reasons.
    1) Why wasn’t a true CB brought in for this team, torre isnt nearly good enough, was hardly a starter this year for UCLA, he had no real chance against players in the barca and real academies. Somebody like Zimmerman or even Payeras should have been called in, also whatever happened to that Cunningham kid who played for Molde? Also if a true CB could come through we could move stanko next to trapp in his more natural holding mid position.
    2) Since when is joya a central mid? Last i saw he was a winger, i dont see fergie sticking nani in the box to box spot and expecting him to do anything. To compare if klinsi would go with a lineup like this it would be like saying hey brek shea go play next to kljestan in the center of midfield, and we wonder why we gave up 4 goals.
    3) The lack of a true out and out striker in this roster is amazing, rodriguez is the only one i really see and he didnt look great out there today. hernandez and villarreal are attacking mids not strikers.

    A few more comments
    -Ocegueda was less than impressive and showed no real purpose or heart in the match
    -Yedlin had a shaky start but was very impressive in the last 60-65 mins
    -Hernandez was once again very dissapointing
    -Luis Gil is a possible star in the making
    -Lastly i am beginning to hate taylor twellman, yes we know deulofeu (which was constantly pronounced wrong) is a up in coming star. Anyone with an interest in european soccer knows of this kid, you didnt find the next messi or anything twellman

    Even with all these problems this team played very very well, especially in the first 40 minutes, the shame of this loss and the knock to goal difference is that we need a point now from france and then three from ghana to realistically have a chance to progress. This is the 11 id like to see against the frenchies


    Joya, Pineda, Garcia and Hernandez can all bring a spark of the bench if needed

    • mattchew says:

      Agreed. Bad decisions, bad coaching—if you can call it that during the match….he just sat there and watched. If his half time speech was anything like his field coaching it probably was along the lines of “Who brought the orange slices?”

  22. TomG says:

    Bad move by Tab to not bring in Z and no question that the focus and technique on D is just not there, but you’re also going against two of the top offensive prospects in the world and the pa$$ing and ideas offensively were really good. I’d rather go toe to toe like this with the kids than to put 10 men behind the ball. Tab just needs a good defensive coach.

    • TomG says:

      You also have to understand that we are playing against seasoned pros here that know how to finish clinically, close out shots and crosses and defend in an organized fashion. With our academies, reserves and lower level leagues in their infancies and not fully integrated, our young guys just don’t get the reps, the training and the games that Europeans get.

    • TomG says:

      Trade Villareal and Hernandez for Deulofeu and Jese and maybe USA wins 4-1.

  23. Scout says:

    Start scouting Dalton, GA….s.o.s

  24. mattchew says:

    I’m not sure who should get a lower rating tonight:
    Ocegueda was absolutely horrible.
    Ramos doing–or even saying– nothing was even worse.

  25. chris_thebassplayer says:

    I just wish we wouldn’t deal with absolutes and be so rigid with our approach to tactics and formation. Ramos’ preferred formation is a high pressure, high D line 4-3-3 which wasn’t the best approach against Spain…and probably won’t be against France. Our players can adapt from one game to another if we need to play a more conservative formation, say a 4-2-3-1 to protect a thin back line… even within the game they can adapt. We can adjust tactics for the opponent and our personnel… we don’t have to blindly play the same formation against all of our opponents. Just because we don’t play the 4-3-3 for a game or two doesn’t mean we have abandoned it. We need to be adaptable.

  26. Jason B says:

    I actually applaud Ramos. He knew we were playing the best team in the world and decided to gamble and take it to them. I think he protected the back line by pressuring high. If we tried to bunker and counter attack they would have REALLY exposed our defense. A couple of feet this way or that the game could have been close. Spain’s strikers are the best. It’s not that bad to lose to the best right now. I am proud of how the team played. You should be too.

    • Joamiq says:

      Yeah, I feel the same way. We did not sit back and defend. And that made the final scoreline worse. But we actually played OK for large swaths of the game. We’re lacking execution/ideas on the final pass. And the defense looked terribly slow. But we had plenty of possession, and when we were in possession, we did not look like we didn’t belong on the same field as those guys. Overall, I’m not too upset.

    • beachbum says:

      why are the only options discussed either to bunker or high press? there’s more possibilities folks

      I am proud of them

    • Ricardo says:

      Dumb post like the next two in line.

      Why do we pick a guy who NEVER had to coach for wins and losses and has a two star
      (out of 5) academy club.

  27. Jason B says:

    And Torre had no business on the field… We have to have someone better…..

  28. master red card says:

    It was a decent performance against arguably the best team in the world. Spain is just head-and-shoulders above everyone at the moment.

  29. TomG says:

    Too much focus on Torre. The whole defense was terrible.

  30. Lloyd Heilbrunn says:

    The defending I saw would have to improve considerably to be terrrible…

  31. Mike says:

    I just saw the replay of the foul to Garcia. That was unbelievably dirty. Not only did he go right through his back he purposely lifted his elbow drilling him in his head. That guy needs to be suspended.

  32. Goalscorer24 says:

    This is the result you will get 90% of the time when you put a college defender against a professional forward.

  33. Robert Smith says:

    two words tell you why we can’t compete: UCLA defender

  34. Andy in Atlanta says:

    This comment is not meant to be xenophobic at all, I love America because of its diversity… I just worry we are actually losing diversity with our national team…. Just looking over the US roster today for the U20WC… it is clear that Ramos and perhaps US youth soccer as whole have really been focusing on players of Latin American descent… Ocegueada, Joya, Gil, Villareal, Torre, Garcia, Hernandez, Rodriguez, Pineda, Lopez, Acosta, Sorto, Cuevas. While obviously much has to do with the current make-up of American society and also to a lesser extent the way non-latino youths grow up with other sporting aspirations (football, basketball) and perhaps do not focus 100% on soccer.

    I worry that we may slightly be going in the wrong direction… obviously good players are good players but I think American soccer is losing its roots to a more latin style of football… Our athleticism is not nearly as prominent as it has been in the past and I worry that we will fall into the trap of “overpassing” that so many teams from Latin America do…

    Here was the roster of the U20WC team from 2007 (arguably one of the best teams we ever fielded and probably could have won the whole thing on another day….) Chris Seitz
    Tim Ward, Bryan Arguez, Amaechi Igwe, Nathan Sturgis, Michael Bradley, Danny Szetela, Robbie Rogers, Preston Zimmerman, Dax McCarty, Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore , Ofori Sarkodie , Anthony Wallace, Sal Zizzo, Julian Valentin, Gabriel Ferrari, Brian Perk, Tony Beltran, Andre Akpan, Steve Sandbo… it is just very interesting to see the talent pool shift focus.

    • Ali Dia says:

      I admire your courage in saying this– To not notice this in watching the game would be odd. I would hate it if people regarded your observation as xenophobic. I would only disagree with you in the sense that you suggest we are playing a “Latin American” style. What I really liked today in spite of the scoreline was the sense of continuity developing between the senior team and the u-20s. Even that remarkable 2007 team was more than happy to play long balls.

      And yes– that was a hell of a roster in 2007. But it proves nothing. Bradley and Altidore are the names that matter (yeah yeah yeah on Freddy Adu, Tony Beltran, and perhaps Rogers… the rest will never see a USA jersey again). If you really believe in the national team looking like our national demographic (nothing wrong with that), I would tell you not to worry about it. Frankly, doesn’t it seem a little odd that we have so few latinos in the regular 11 at the senior level? Omar is the only one at the moment, and that might change very shortly.

      Also, what do you mean by “athleticism” with regard to our “roots”… As far as I know, the best players of the last 20 years are guys like Reyna, Ramos, Wynalda, Harkes, O’Brien, Donovan, Dempsey. Only guys I might call “athletes” might be McBride… maybe Onyewu? I don’t understand this. To me “athlete” means wildly strong and/or fast. Never been our style.

      I’m not disagreeing with you. I just think it’s a natural reaction to seeing a u-20 lineup that doesn’t look like our senior squad. But as a comment about style of play? Don’t get it.

  35. Hush says:

    Our offensive tactics & ball posession was greeeaat- tony tiger I love the way we took the gm to Spain which by the way have mad on the team. Even though we lost 4-1, it felt more like a 2-1 gm. The CB’s were just awful, but our offensive new ways kind of helped the team not get smash 8-1, so that was a positive.. If we are playing a more offensive type minded futbol in our youths so that it transgresses over to the senior team, I’m super excited. I hate to lose 2-0 or 1-0 and play like trash bunkering like a camper, yes, a cod term,. I rather lose playing beautiful futbol and creating a dozen chances on goal. It’s what makes futbol beautiful… Overall I’m satisfied & excited. Hernandez, yildin, Gil, etc have great offensive instict. Our time will come! We’re still babies in this gm, but we are creeping rapidly !

  36. TADevil says:

    Even though we lost I’m impressed by our players and their style of play. They’re very good on the ball and the passing was quick. It seems a lot of our youth players have good technical ability and tactical acumen.

  37. jokn says:

    Onkygonna say this… Not ione black player

  38. Jay Bonds says:

    The team is average how about that.

    • alf says:

      No. It will be a great team as we progress!

      • Jay Bonds says:

        Did you watch the game? Great? Puhleeze stop using words that should never be associated with football in this country. Come back after the 1st round when this team is already back home.

  39. biff says:

    Offensively, I thought this U-20 team looked very good and very well coached. It was generally an impressive performance and appeared to have surprised the Spain, who was struggling to deal with the US offense until they were able to score the second goal and third goal two minutes later. The only problem with the offense, and, of course, a big one, was the ability to finish. But the US, in my eyes, were truly bossing the midfield with inventive passing and showed excellent technical skills. This tells me that Tab Ramos is doing something right when it comes to offense.

    But the U-20‘s defense was atrocious and it would be unfair to blame one player. And maybe it was simply the high line as some are saying above or maybe Zimmerman, who I don’t know, might have helped. The true test for Ramos will be France, whether or not he is able to make the necessary adjustments to win. This team has the talent to score goals and he should doing what is necessary to strengthen defense and improve chances of winning and advancing to the knock-out round, which, I think, is more important than showing you can play pretty soccer, which, quite frankly, they did display yesterday.

  40. Marlon says:

    Remember how one of the problems with youth soccer in our country is supposedly that things have been about winning and not how the kids played? Well I like how the team played yesterday. A lot.

  41. jokn says:

    Saying this twice… In a country where our population is 20% AA. THERE WAS NO AA PLAYER SELECTED… Ridiculous… Yedlin and Torre I suppose

    • Kevin says:

      with the direction that Klinsy wants the national teams to play i doubt we will see much of AA in the future – that just the reality of america going forward.

    • Marlon says:

      There’s African American players in the squad who didn’t start. And what’s there to guess about with Yedlin?

      (And before you get super defensive, I am black)

  42. Jeff says:

    We’re the only country in the world that obsesses about results in this tournament. This is about youth development. If it helps one or two or three of these players make the leap to the top, it was worth it, regardless of results. Seen in that light…

    These young players for the first half forced Spain to play the game we brought, not the game they brought. Spain turned into Italy – sag back, absorb the pressure, counterattack. For that matter, they looked like a typical American youth team – spend most of the game chasing the ball and when you do gain possession, kick it long and have your bigger faster forwards outrun the defense. The goals didn’t do a thing to make Spain’s players better. The possession and creativity did a LOT to make ours better.

    A lot to build on. Yeah, yeah, our defense was weak, but the offense was strong. Kudos to Tab for having the guts to make an attractive, possesion-oriented attack a higher priority than bunkering to keep the score close.

    • Vman says:

      Bingo … results at the U 20 level are meaningless. Individual performances are worth watching but I think this is an unpredictable age in a players’ development. Maybe 2 or 3 of these guys will be future senior team members. I think that goes for a lot of other countries as well, even a powerhouse like Spain.

  43. Ricardo says:

    I do give Ramos a littel credit for the team attacking BUT…there are 150 coaches more qualified than him to coach this team. He and Reyna played politics and got these jobs and they will keep getting hired by US Soccer until Gulati is out.
    I don’t have enough time or energy to talk about all the mistakes he made as a coach today

  44. ASP says:

    If two of your defenders have bad games, WE can’t expect to win. Defending is the responsibility of all, not just the back 5. That said, I think the 4-1 score line flattered Spain, IMHO; the game was not reflected in the score line by any means, pyric victory though that may be.

    They need a result against France & Ghana to make the next phase; that will require them to play TEAM defense, not just the back 5. If YOU can control the play against Spain, then I would expect better against France, though France is a more physical team, and will bring a different dimension to the game vs. US(A)