U.S. U-20s end Toulon Tournament on sour note with loss to South Korea

France Soccer U 21


What was meant to be a preparation for the Under-20 World Cup in two weeks in Turkey has brought up more questions than answers.

The U.S. Under-20 National Team dropped their final match of the tournament to South Korea, 1-0, leaving southern France with just one win and three losses. Not only that, but in the four games played the U.S. scored just three goals combined while giving up seven.

Han Sung-Gyu scored the lone goal of the match for South Korea on Wednesday, taking advantage of a crucial error from U.S. defender Shane O’Neill in the 62nd minute and slotting home past goalkeeper Cody Cropper.

What did you make of the match today? Do you have confidence in the team? Reserving judgement until the other MLS players join the team?

Share your thoughts below.

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47 Responses to U.S. U-20s end Toulon Tournament on sour note with loss to South Korea

  1. fischy says:

    Cool kit. I’m guessing it’s…not Korea?

  2. bryan says:

    totally forgot to watch this. all i can say is at least this happened at this tournament. but wow, i truly thought we would do better. i hope this wakes them up for the group of death…

  3. SanFran415 says:

    I was excited for this tournament, but after learning about the team selections all around I decided it was barely worth acknowledging.

    Hope the kids had fun, but our B/C U-20 squad was always going to lose big against the U-21 squads of traditional powers. Given the difference a year makes in physical and mental development in the late teens, we’re lucky we did not lose worse against France seeing as they held an average age advantage of 2 years.

    • T-lover says:

      Only five of these players was on the U-20 WCQ team. This tournament was a chance to look ate some other players. Koroma and Morris impress me and should be on the the final selection. However this was never a tournament I thought we were going to win, only to observe players.

      • SanFran415 says:

        Right. And I’m not entirely sure how much the coaching staff could really learn since the kids were playing against kids much older than who they will have to play against.

        But then again, who knows what they wanted to take from the tournament. I certainly do not, and I’ll assume they garnered some positive feedback and analysis from the performances.

      • SanFran415 says:

        Right. And I’m not entirely sure how much the coaching staff could really learn since the kids were playing against kids much older than who they will have to play against.

        But then again, who knows what they wanted to take from the tournament. I certainly do not, and I’ll @ssume they garnered some positive feedback and analysis from the performances.

        • Dennis says:

          An important thing coaches can learn from those kinds of games are which players continue to fight on and which shut down and give up. A lot of players who get onto youth national teams, at least at the younger ages, have for most of their lives have mostly been in games where they are one of the best 2 or 3 players on the pitch. This gives coaches a chance to see how players do when it becomes impossibly difficult in an important game. That is some no coach can learn from practices or from playing soft or even equal opposition.

      • fortunate only says:

        Five players?

        There are at least ten players that overlapped both rosters. And the reason some players weren’t with U20s during qualifiers is because of club commitments.

        Out of the players that aren’t with the team at Toulon only Gil, Rodriguez, Villarreal and Yedlin can be considered upgrades.

        Zimmerman is still injured, Brooks doesn’t want to come, etc.

        This Toulon team is 75% of what we will have in Turkey.

        No need to lie to get your point across.

    • Rob Jones says:

      Only France had an U-21 team the rest of the teams USA played were U-20s.

    • Kimai says:

      Korea had no professional club players besides a striker and a CB. They also fielded a B team from the squad that came here as they must go back to Korea right after this match.

      • fortunate only says:

        Yup. That was a University squad that South Korea brought along to Toulon.

  4. Benjamin C. says:

    There were some very questionable decisions made by the back four today. That definitely needs to get cleaned before the U-20 World Cup.

  5. Shane says:


  6. Guest says:

    What was their record in the tournament? W-L-T.

  7. TomG says:

    Not good, certainly. Hopefully the starting pros will insert some form for the WC. I hope Tab calls in Zimmerman.

  8. ACS says:

    I would have felt much better with the back four if Zimmerman was playing alongside Brooks.

  9. Mike R says:

    At least we don’t have to hear the usual “this is the best/most talented team ever” hype that usually goes around these youth teams. We won’t be suprised when they suck out of the wc

  10. Gary Page says:

    A frustrating game to watch. They would string some good passes together then make a horrible pass. At the start of the 2nd half they really controlled play, must have had two thirds of possession and created several good chances. Then one horrible back pass and they lose. Almost all the South Korean chances were a result of bad mistakes by the US.

  11. Darwin says:

    And another example illustrating how average our future looks.

    • bravecajun says:

      Our U-20’s national team performances offer VERY LITTLE insight on how our future men’s national will perform.

  12. Eric120 says:

    Tournament results so far:

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Colombia will play Brazil in the final. Depending on tomorrow’s results, Mexico, Portugal or Nigeria will face France for third place.

  13. DaveInSLO says:

    The back-pass from O’Neill was bad, really bad…but his effort in recovering on the play was absolutely atrocious. I watched it three times and was less impressed with each successive viewing.

  14. Jeff says:

    Not sure where folks are getting their information, but all of the players in the tournament were primarily under 20. Both South Korea and Colombia had only u20 players. Of the 10 teams that played in the tournament, only three fielded players who were 21 years old. No one fielded a 22 or 23 year old player, as some have suggested. And two of the three teams fielding players who were 21 were in the group with the U.S., Congo being one of them – and the only team that the U.S. beat. I just need to understand how it is that the U.S. beats one team with players who are 21 years old and it’s not commented on, and when they play a team with a few players who are 21 years old and lose that’s all people focus on.
    Record against teams with the same age range of players = 0 W, 2L. Record against teams with +20 = 1W, 1L. Lets cut the excuses and look at their actual performance on the field.

    • bryan says:

      there is no doubt that this team, even a B/C squad, should have done better. no need for people to freak out about it, but US fans should have some concern that we once again under performed. and like you said, the age thing was an excuse against France, but really it had more to do with the fact that most of France’s players are professionals and are built like professionals. oh, and they play like real professionals too.

      i really did not think we played that well whatsoever. lineup changes did not help, but still. no one has really commented, but how did they play today? anyone watch?

      • Jeff says:

        I agree. The focus should be on the style of play and, for the development of players, on the talent pipeline. The biggest difference between the U.S. players in contrast to the Colombians, French, Belgians or Brazilians, is that those players are all getting minutes in professional leagues (division one or division two). And their performance on the field from a technical perspective (giving away silly balls and fouls, letting the pressuring get to them, losing control of the tempo of the game like against Colombia, defensive mistakes) and tactical perspective (knowing how to use game time wisely, working the ref for your team’s benefit or at least not to get bullied by them) demonstrates that they still need to mature as football players – much more so than their opponents. Many of them will reach that level and succeed, but if we are setting a benchmark and comparing them with other leagues/national squads, then they are a bit behind as other players have matured earlier and can therefore compete better at the national or club level at an earlier age in comparison to U.S. players. Maybe it’s too much of a leap to get to that conclusion, but the way they were outplayed in most of the games and, more importantly, out thought is what worries me a little.

        • bryan says:

          i agree with everyone you said. you could see Colombia controlling the game despite being 1-0 down. the US could not control that game to save their lives and they ended up losing it as a result. we didn’t play AWFUL in that game, but we didn’t dictate anything. it looked like we weren’t even capable of dictating the game. until we were down 2-1, we didn’t press.

          the Congo game was also not impressive. it wasn’t terrible, but i thought we would be able to express ourselves more. but no. and then i wake up today to hear we lost to a really inexperienced South Korean team. unreal.

        • Joe+G says:

          So it’s mostly about playing more games that matter (and coaching).

    • Jeff says:

      And by under 20 I meant to say are 20 or younger, which falls within the age category for the upcoming WC.

  15. bryan says:

    honestly, it was kind of worth it just to find out Alonso Hernandez is solid. he should help in the attack.

  16. ballz says:

    First half could have gone either way. Second half US dominated until they gave up a goal against the run of play. Overall I thought there was surprising number of bad giveaways from the center backs and Joya. The play in the final third was wasteful, predictable and sloppy.

  17. dude says:

    Stepping back from this tournament, and looking at the trend of under-performance at the youth level (it’s uncertain whether the u-20’s will make it out of their group, and they’re the only team to qualify in a while), does this mean we can expect a lesser group of young individuals contributing to the team, or is this just a systemic failure and the cream of the crop will meet recent historical standards?

    I’d like to get some view points- me, at this point, I don’t know what to think.

    • Brett says:

      The quality of individual players is arguably rising, but I don’t think we can ignore the revolving door and lack of chemistry that we see on the pitch. I don’t think all players need to be in residency, but there should be a core group that trains together year round and then you sprinkle in the young pros breaking their way into their clubs to supplement the foundation.

      • dude says:

        That’s an interesting perspective. The only observation I can make is that the new crops seem to have good skill with the ball- perhaps do to a switch in focus for US soccer at a youth level, maybe because that’s the trend. But it’s possible the US is just truly struggling to keep up with the evolution of soccer, which is switching more toward what the German’s are concocting- a blend of discipline, pressing, passing, and soccer IQ which our young players will not get without exposure to such play for several years.

        Maybe once our best players start developing in Europe, maybe that evolution will happen. Personally, I just hope we get some winners out of this period, even if we’re experiencing growing pains.

        But that’s just a theory.

  18. Brett says:

    It’s funny that for the last 3 years we’ve pushing this initiative to move away from the traditional residency program, and the results are absolutely terrible. The US used to have one of the more respected youth programs in the world because of the blend of residencies, college players, and young professionals. Now it’s just a hodgepodge of skilled players who don’t play together often or with any killer instinct.

    • Chris says:

      With a residency program, you often end up with youth teams that have played together extensively. This can result in teams that win a lot of youth tournaments– not because the players are superior, but simply because they’re playing as a unit.

      I didn’t watch the games in this tournament, but hearing that the US had the upper hand in the second half until giving up a goal on a defensive error suggests exactly this dynamic. A bad defensive error is often caused by a defensive line that isn’t familiar with each other– it doesn’t necessarily mean the individual players are poor.

      The correlation between winning youth tournaments and winning senior tournaments isn’t all that strong. Ultimately, if a youth team is able to produce one or two stand-outs who make it onto the senior team, then that youth team should be considered a success.

  19. terryb260 says:

    I wonder how much of this is a system-wide issue with one area – defense. The U-17’s could score like crazy, but they got flooded with goals. At the qualifying tournament, the U-20’s got better as the tournament went on, but looked downright chaotic at the beginning. I didn’t see any of the Toulon games, but it sounded like defense did them in again. This is goes without mentioning the trouble the senior team has been having on the backline. So honest question: Is it possible that the U.S. teams are adjusting to a more proactive style, which provides less defensive cover, and that once they adjust, the results will improve?

  20. Kojo says:

    Remember we are changing from 4-4-2 counter attacking style to 4-3-3 attacking possession style. You don’t just flip a switch and everyone feels comfortable with the new setup. It takes time and we are experiencing that. We still have some good players who will contribute a couple to a few years from now.

  21. solles says:

    Lots of qualifyers and excuses here… flat out this is simpleymoreproof that we are no where good enough at youth level, and certainly no where near as good as alot of people ‘inside the circle’ like to spin at us, perhaps they are just deluded.

  22. Bean says:

    Most of the US players were unimpressive during this tournament. After watching the U-21 Euros, we still have a long, long road ahead of us in player development.