I’m going to preface this post by commenting that I don’t have enough history to truly evaluate the players and coach of the USMNT U-20.
I’m going to keep my commentary brief and ask for more for your thoughts.
So now I’ve watched all three US U-20 games. 0-3, 4-1, 0-3. Wow, more highs and lows than a U.S. team in Confed Cup play. Thanks, I have a show at 11pm as well.
Today’s match was frustrating, mostly for fans, but not unexpected if you saw the other two games of the group stage. You just don’t know what to expect from US team. This is not an insult, but Yanks-Abroad’s and ESPN writer Brett Latham, who follows the team religiously it appears, predicted a win over Germany and today’s opponent South Korea, while questioning the U.S. going into the Cameroon game.
That comment is not to impune Latham, it’s more representative of a young squad that has potential, but appears to have no game plan to line-ups and strategy and thus is a coin-flip when forecasting results.
For my part, I won’t focus on line-up. As commented above, I don’t know the players well enough. I’ll talk about today’s strategy with an analogy to ultimate frisbee play.
In 2006, I played ultimate for a U.S. squad at the world championships in Perth, Australia. Our team was more veteran, had height and “hucks” (the equivalent of “deep throws”) and was generally disciplined. We knew our strengths, specifically machine-like, low turnover offense and the ability to throw in the wind.
In group play, we came up against a Japanese side. As a defender and one of the faster players on the team, I was assigned to disrupt what would be considered the “point guard” of the other team. Let’s put it this way, we was able to take about 39 steps before I took one. He was that much faster. But, you know what, I and our team knew that going in. So what did we do? We changed out strategy (without getting too technical we shaded the offender toward his non-throwing hand to slow him a bit) and we adapted in-game.
We ended up winning that game by focusing on deep throws to our tall receives and huddling back on defense and expending all out effort closer to our goal line (since it wouldn’t be in our best interest to press up the field).
I point out that game because the U.S. faced a challenge in parallel today and they were neither prepared for it, nor adapted during the game.
Poor positioning, ill-timed tackles due to not realizing South Korea’s quickness, and an offensive game that didn’t play to the U.S’s strengths–in my opinion (just like in our game) we needed to see a lot more aerial play specifically to Brek Shea who towered over others up the pitch. On defense we got beat around the ends and on throw balls–again in my mind–because he didn’t aggressively funnel toward the middle.
Now, TSG and I would like your thoughts. Like I said, this is a topic we have not spent as much time on. So let it rip. What do you think? Help us learn.