U-20 World Cup

Young Yanks Crush Kiwis, Will Face Venezuela Next

Tab Ramos' U-20 men's national team scored five second-half goals en route to a 6-0 shellacking of New Zealand in the knockout round of the 2017 World Cup in South Korea. Here's how it all went down.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
June 01, 2017
9:00 AM

SIX AMERICANS SCORED early Thursday as the United States U-20 team put on a dominant display against New Zealand to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2017 U-20 World Cup.

The Americans began the game shorthanded with Cameron Carter-Vickers, Aaron Herrera, and Derrick Jones all suspended and Gedion Zelalem back in the United States awaiting surgery to repair his ACL. That meant that head coach Tab Ramos had to alter the formation to a 4-4-2 and play some players out of position against New Zealand.

In the end it was no problem at all for the Americans, who scored once before the break and then tacked on five after intermission for the comprehensive 6-0 win.

The Yanks took the lead in the 32nd minute off a corner kick when Brooks Lennon’s delivery found Justen Glad in the box. The Real Salt Lake defender gathered the ball and fired a tough shot that took a slight deflection off Josh Sargent and past New Zealand keeper Michael Woud. It was Sargent's fourth goal of the tournament, tying him for the top spot thus far in the World Cup.

In the 64th minute Jeremy Ebobisse gave the U.S. a 2-0 advantage with one of the best goals of the tournament. Though he was invisible for long stretches, the Portland Timbers forward made up for it by controlling a high ball with a deft first touch and then blasting the ball past Woud with a left-footed shot.  

The Americans proceeded to turn the game into a laugher. Just one minute after Ebobisse’s stunner, Lennon gave the U.S. a 3-0 lead when he took a nice pass from Eryk Williamson to break past the defense and fire home a low shot from the right wing.

In the 76th minute Glad headed home a corner kick to extend the lead to four goals. Substitute left back Auston Trusty made it 5-0 on a lovely first-time shot from just inside the box. Then Lagos Kunga rounded it out with a high-quality goal in stoppage time after a nice pass from Luca de la Torre.

Here are my thoughts on the game.

Glad fits in well at right back

Given Herrera's suspension, U-20 coach Tab Ramos needed somebody to fill the right back position. Glad got the call and held his own defensively. He even managed to get forward well—and on set pieces, he gives the U.S. another attacking option in the box.

Glad might have done enough to surpass Herrera for the starting job at right back. Venezuela has yet to concede a goal this entire tournament but having to defend Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Derrick Jones, Sargent, and Glad in the box on a set-piece would be a very tough job. 

Adams, Williamson grew into the game

When the team adopted a 4-4-2, a lot of responsibility was placed on Tyler Adams, one of the youngest players on the team, and Eryk Williamson, who is still in college. Both got off to slow starts but eventually they began to take over the game. Their combined effort crushed the spirit of the New Zealand midfield.

Adams has had a great tournament. It's interesting to see how he and Sargent have also been among the team’s best players despite their relative youth. (Both are eligible for the 2019 U-20 World Cup.) Adams covers tremendous ground over the course of a game, clogging passing lanes, making tackles, and winnning 50-50 balls. He still produces too many turnovers but he is improving in that regard, and his passing is top notch. 

Williamson had his best game of the tournament against New Zealand. He worked well with Adams and did well to maintain possession. His assist on Lennon's goal was one of the best passes in the game. He lost his starting job against Saudi Arabia but probably gained it back with today's performance. After this tournament it will be interesting to see where he goes. He’s hinted at Europe in the past although D.C. United is probably going to be eager to secure his services.

Sargent’s hold-up play was a big factor 

Sargent, 17, would probably be the first to tell you that his goal today was more luck than skill, as Glad's shot hit him in the leg before finding the back of the net.  

Despite that, Sargent had a great game. The St. Louis product played a very sophisticated and well-rounded game against New Zealand. In particular his hold up play was instrumental in getting all of his teammates involved in attacks. With four players in the midfield, as opposed to five, Sargent was able to successfully track back at key moments to win balls and play his teammates into dangerous positions.

Sargent forced a few saves too and he will continue to be a goal-scoring force. Today, however, he showed there's more to his take than putting the ball behind the goalkeeper.

Next up: Venezuela

Unlike the previous four games, the United States will walk into Sunday’s game (2am ET, FS1) as the distinct underdog. Venezuela has won all four of its matches in South Korea, outscoring oppoentents 11-0. On top of that, Venezuela will enjoy two days more rest than the U.S., which will have to play on a short turnaround.

While the odds justifiably favor Venezuela, it is a winnable game for the United States. Carter-Vickers and Jones will return to the starting lineup and should be well-rested. Glad might be an upgrade at right back. And Lennon, Sargent, and de la Torre are dangerous attackers.

Since the disastrous first 10 minutes in the World Cup opener against Ecuador, the U.S. has outscored opponents 11-2 with the only two goals coming from a goalkeeping blunder and a set piece.

The Americans have also found many ways to beat opponents as the tournament has progressed, primarily through wide play and set pieces. Whether it is Sargent, Ebobisse, de la Torre, or Williamson, there are enough players who can make magic happen at any time.

If the United States is going to prevail, it is going to have to fight through fatigue. If this game goes into extra time, it will greatly favor Venezuela. A slower pace will benefit the U.S. given the quick turnaround.

Most importantly, it will come down to discipline. Both teams are very strong defensively and the slightest mistake will likely determine the outcome. The U.S.' defense is strong but the margin of error on Sunday will be exceptionally small.

Tab Ramos showed some classy flexibility in shifting formation given the circumstances but the team will likely be happy to return to the 4-2-3-1 which has brought them this far.

Projected Starting Lineup vs. Venezuela

Goalkeeper: Jonathan Klinsmann
Right back: Justen Glad
Central defender: Erik Palmer Brown
Central defender: Cameron Carter-Vickers
Left back: Danny Acosta
Defensive/holding midfielder: Derrick Jones
Defensive/holding midfielder: Tyler Adams
Right midfielder: Brooks Lennon
Central midfielder: Eryk Williamson
Left midfielder: Luca de la Torre
Forward: Josh Sargent

What did you think of the match? Share you take in the Comments section below.

Post a comment