We knew coming into this U-20 World Cup that the US had a deep, talented squad filled with professional players. My hunch was that the US could perhaps contend to win the title under the right circumstances thanks to the numerous withdrawals of European club based players from other teams.
But the opening match was not promising, with the US side outclassed in every way imaginable by the Germans. Keep in mind the US has advanced out of the Group stage in the last six U-20 World Cups. In each of the last three tournaments the US has knocked off a big name national side. Perhaps that fact led me and others to heighten expectations for the opening match versus the Germans.
Today’s win was made in Florida, as this Floridian will pride fully point out. Brian Arguez, whose youth career in my area of south Florida is near legendary among recent players scored the initial US goal after a nice pass from Miami FC’s Tony Taylor of Jacksonville who led JU into the NCAA Tournament last year. Taylor, who trained with Miami FC for weeks before signing a professional contract last week, scored the second US goal.
But the highlight of night was from Rutgers Dilly Duka, who Red Bull has had an eye on for a while. Duka playing on the left side of midfield delivered a cheeky chip of the keeper from distance, the type of goal that gets numerous you tube downloads and makes a player legendary.
Thomas Rongen made several substantial changes to the midfield and they paid off in a famous American victory. Once again, the U-20s provide American soccer fans with much hope, and this performance answered the critics (including myself) who questioned the desire of this side.
A point on tactics: Thomas Rongen played a 4-3-3 again, today and it worked well. The formation may compliment the US talent level of fast wide players better than the 4-4-2 or perhaps even the 3-5-2. This is a formation Bob Bradley bizarrely tried at Saprissa and perhaps needs to give another look to.
Back to the point about Florida: Some MLS Talk posters find it offensive that I refer to Florida as a hotbed for Football/Soccer. I am not talking specifically about the number of people who fill a stadium for American club football, but about other factors.
These include the ability of lower level national sides to draw a nice crowd for friendly matches that would not draw well in the rest of the country, and more specifically about our youth soccer setup. In recent years, we’ve seen the likes of Eddie Johnson, Jozy Altidore, and Cory Gibbs, among other emerge from our youth soccer programs, more ready to contribute to the US Youth setup than some kids from other parts of the country.
Much of this, like New Jersey and California has to do with the ethnic makeup of Florida, and how serious football is taken in the communities. This isn’t simply suburban American white kids competing, but serious football from families that value the sport more than just for recreation.
Today we saw Bryan Arguez and Tony Taylor, both developed in Florida (Taylor still plays in Florida for Miami FC) show a touch of class, and Jersey boy Dilly Duka scoring among the most memorable goals recently for any US National Team.
A great win tonight for the United States.