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US 0-3 South Korea: US Streak of Knock Out Stage Appearances on Life Support

u20egyptlogoThe 2009 U-20 World Cup began with high expectations for Team USA. With twelve professional players, and withdrawals and extenuating circumstances elsewhere the US looked a sure bet to make noise.

Now, the US must count on other results to continue in the competition. The US has advanced to the knock out stages of six consecutive U-20 World Cups, but making a seventh is now in severe doubt. Finishing third in the group with a minus 3 GD, means two other third place teams must finish with worse than a -3 GD for the Americans to continue playing.

Today’s 3-0 loss to South Korea was appalling, not just because the Americans were terribly outplayed, but more noticeably the lack of discipline and composure the side showed in the second half. Four second half yellow cards, and a sending off also combined with sloppy tackling and a lack of interest in the match. What’s worse is ESPN’s decision to broadcast all the matches of the tournament on various platforms, including the US games on ESPN2 exposed this program as not being ready for prime time. But given the hype myself and others gave this particular U-20 side, who can blame ESPN for hyping the tournament?

Once behind this evening, the Americans stopped playing except for brief spells. While Thomas Rongen is sure to be blamed for not getting more out of one of the most talented sides the US has brought to the U-20s. But the players ultimately bear some responsibility for the performances, and the general lack of passion, composure and fight they showed in the second half today.

Perhaps, commentators such as myself, deserve a round of scorn as well. We after all built up this U-20 team as a side that could go deep in this tournament. We failed to account for the quality of the opposition (I actually believed Cameroon and Korea would be stronger than Germany who lost a number of big players before the tournament) , and the criticisms I make of US fans not properly evaluating and respecting the opposition at the senior level, applied to me and others in this tournament.

For me personally, I have gotten to the point of expecting the US U-20 and U-17 teams to be among the best in the world. I personally don’t expect much from our current crop of senior players, which I have articulated time and time again at this site. That makes this tournament’s ultimate outcome, should the US not advance, a bitter pill to swallow.

As far as Rongen’s tactics today, I didn’t understand the move at halftime to pull off Tony Taylor for Per Marosevic. Taylor had run his socks off all tournament long, keeping the defense on its toes, and as Ignacio Rodriguez mentioned on the most recent MLS Talk Podcast, Taylor looked exceptional against much older players regularly at Miami FC’s training sessions.

The other move that made little sense was not inserting Kyle Davies back into the starting XI today. Jorge Flores played well versus Cameroon, but Davies leadership was badly missing when things went bad, early in this match.

If anything, the US was fortunate the scoreline wasn’t worse. Korea was wasteful with countless opportunities, and of course hit the crossbar on a chance early, that Brian Perk got a toe to.

The US will know its fate tomorrow.

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  1. SSReporters

    October 3, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Costa Rica scored one more goal than us and advance to the round of 16.

    We are eliminated.

  2. Rongen Must Go

    October 2, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    The sad part is due to England getting a late goal to tie Uzbekistan (who I believe would have finished ahead of us in the third place table), we are likely going to have another game. Probable opponent: Spain. Sound familiar?

    Maybe another Confed Cup like miracle!

  3. LDR

    October 2, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Can anyone explain why Taylor was taken off at HT?

    Was he hurt? He and Duka were the only two guys worth anything in this tournament.

    Jorge Flores luckily escaped a sending off on that reckless challenge which I believe was in the box. We dodged a but, yet still got a PK and a sending off later.

    No discipline, and no understanding of how to tackle.

    This tournament is I fear an accurate reflection of how we are teaching guys at the youth level.

  4. Tony

    October 2, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Well it takes a big man to admit you were wrong. Many who come here attack you, but I’ve always found your candor refreshing and honest. Good work again here, admiting you over estimated this team and over sold this team to all of us. Good analysis of today’s debacle as well.

  5. Robert Jonas

    October 2, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    That was a painful match to watch. The US showed that they don’t belong in the knockout stage with that performance. Poor defensive marking on the first two Korean goals, and little effort for long stretches of the second half. Good thing I had this on TiVo — as the US looked disinterested late in the match, I could join them by fast forwarding to the end.

    Maybe Brazil and the Czech Republic do us a favor in Group E, letting the US sneak through to the round of 16. However, the US hasn’t played well enough in this tournament to deserve it.

  6. peter osgood

    October 2, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Were the US under twenties as talented as their Korean opponents? It’s possbile, but very hard to determine when the US was unable to play football, that is to control the ball and work the pitch, running off the ball whilst building up a possession move up to the Korean area.

    The amount of endless long balls, especially from the keeper that simply went straight to the Korean keeper was brain numbing. The US tactical plan seemed to be simply for the backline or the keeper to look for a forward as far up field as possible and attempt to give him a useful ball, most of which weren’t.

    Korea is a trained outfit that knows what to do with possession and how to build up play, and create chances, consistently.

    There was no room for the US midfield to operate again, nor any seeming interest to do so. Players were constantly making runs across the width of the pitch just to get a quick touch on the ball and generally rushing their one touch pass so that Korea then gained control in a dangerous area of midfield again and again.

    It must be extremely frustrating for the players, who clearly have technical skill to a man, but no idea of how to play proper football. And they certainly aren’t being coached on how to accomplish it.

    Roll on to the U17’s, I have high hopes for Cabrera.

  7. kyle

    October 2, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Bocanegra approves of Sheanon Williams defending on the second Korean goal.

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