US-U20’s look to make a World Cup run, starting with showdown with New Zealand

Josh Sargent, Adrian Vazquez
U.S.’s Josh Sargent, right, and Mexico’s Adrian Vazquez, left, fight for the ball during the Concacaf under-17 soccer championship final in Panama City, Sunday, May, 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

US under 20 mens national team has played three matches over the last week and a half. They are significant matches as this is the under 20 World Cup in South Korea. If you’ve missed the action this is the recap for you! The US-U20’s made it to the knockout round of the under 20 World Cup. USA won group F; drawing Ecuador, beating Senegal and drawing Saudi Arabia. They take on New Zealand in the round of sixteen Thursday morning at 7 am. Before getting into the match let’s look back at the highlights from the group stage, as the US-U20’s look to make a World Cup run.

Gidion Zelalem’s injury helped the team’s shape:

Coming into the tournament, Gedion Zelalem was supposed to be the playmaker for the U-20’s. He was playing in a deep position in the midfield. The US went down early in their first match going down by two in the first seven minutes. Zelalem was doing little defensively to help the US deal with Ecuador’s attack. Gedion took a knock around the 32nd minute. Two minutes later, Philadelphia Union’s own Derrick Jones came on. He immediately  solidified the midfield shape. He sat deep and helped break up the oppositions attacks. After doing this the US attack was able to find ways to break Ecuador down. This addition helped the US find the right shape for the rest of their group games. It also helped US youngest goal scorer in U-20 World Cup history.

Josh Sargent is a pure goal scorer:

Josh Sargent is only a seventeen-year-old, but he is playing at a very high level. Sargent scored two goals to get USA back in their first match agaisnt Ecuador. He also Scored the only goal in the U-20’s Gritty win over Senegal. With three goals he is one away from being the top scorer in the tournament.Sargent is a pure goal scorer, and is fun to watch. His movement on the ball takes him towards goal to create a chance.

His movement off the ball is even better; he’ll make runs in the box to get on the end of crosses, or to create space for others. This bright young start has a nose for scoring. If the US want to go further in this tournament, Sargent will have to find a way onto the score sheet. Sargent has made a mark, but this is only the beginning of a very bright future for this young scorer.

Derrick Jones, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Erik Palmer-Brown Solidify defense:

Like I said before, Derrick Jones is impressing in his defensive midfield role for the U-20’s. What’s been more impressive has been the defensive triangle of Carter-Vickers, Palmer-Brown and Jones in front of them. This triangle has made it near impossible for teams to attack through the middle of the pitch. Both center backs have been stellar. Palmer-Brown, the team’s captain, has played every minute for the U-20’s in this World Cup. He’s done well to put out fires and organize the US defensively.

Carter-Vickers sat out the first match due to injury. He then came in for the past two matches and gave the back line the muscle it needs. His play has been feisty and needed. Jones sits in front of these two. He dispossess the opposition and moves it forward. These three players have created a promising defensive unit that can build in big game situations at this under 20 World Cup. Two of these three will be missing from their round of 16 match.

Yellow Card Accumulation:

The U20’s defense will be thin for their round of 16 match. Right back, Aaron Herrera, and Derrick Jones picked up two yellow cards over the three group stage games. Therefore, they are suspended for the round of 16 match agaisnt New Zealand. Cameron Carter-Vickers picked up two yellows in the US’s match agaisnt Saudi Arabia, so he will also be suspended. All of these suspensions came from yellows accrued from the Saudi Arabia match. Where there were five yellow cards given out in 35 minutes. The US will be stretched thin defensively. However, if coach Tab Ramos can structure his team well, then they should be up for the fight they’ll get from New Zealand.

Round of 16 vs New Zealand:

With all of the suspensions, the US will need to drop many of their skilled midfielders deeper to be able to possess the game. Fulham’s Luca De La Torre and Maryland University’s Eryk Williamson will need to stay more central, while New York Red Bull’s Tyler Adams will have to sit even deeper to help the US cope. These three will be the key to possession. If the Us want’s success, this midfield diamond will need to keep their shape and communicate well. The back line will need to be adjusted as well.

Erick Palmer-Brown and Danny Acosta will need to have a strong game. Real Salt Lake’s Justin Glad, and Philadelphia’s Auston Trusty will likely step in to fill out the back line. These four will need to work well keeping their line, and knowing when to step up and when to hold their position.  The attack will do what it does, create chances. If the midfield and defense can step up and control the tempo and possession percentage of the match the US should move on to the quarter finals.

The US take on New Zealand at 7 am on Fox Sports 1. If you aren’t on the hype train yet for this team and this tournament you should jump on now!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter at TGing21 for live tweets, re-tweets and soccer twitter fun. Yes even at 7 am. Come back to Philly Sports Network for analysis and recap of USA vs New Zealand. Until then, peace out USMNT fans!


(AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)