Another crack at some Elite competition for US mens soccer and another failure! The US U-20’s were paired in the Super Group at Dallas Cup with the Mexico U-20’s, Vancouver Whitecaps, and Eintracht Frankfurt. With a National Team, player selection is usually critical as there is little time to work. This is usually the case all over the world at all National Team levels (u17, u20, senior) so we will just be giving our analysis on the players performance for the tournament and not the coaching or team play. Who should remain on Rongens shortlist looking towards World Cup qualifying and who doesn’t have the class to play in a World Cup if we expect the US to compete with the worlds best.
Zarek Valentin – The center back does his job well. Reads the game well, communicates, organizes, and most importantly plays simple like a center back should. He’s decent in the air and good 1 v 1 defender.
Amobi Okugo – The holding mid has been a fixture on all youth national teams for a reason. He is a true leader out of midfield. Like a general, he organizes the entire team and does not stop barking orders. Sharing his experience is only part of his strength at this level. At his position, simple is genius and Okugo usually makes the right plays, winning the ball for his team and distributing it to the best option. Also frustrates his opponents with his patented “hand cuff” maneuver. The refs don’t see it but opponents go crazy when he grabs them off the ball.
Jose Altamirano – One of the only players on this US squad who has quality on the ball. He’s a great dribbler, can take people on 1 v 1, has good field vision, short game, long game, and can finish. He should never be touched since he is the only one that can change a game with his ability in this player pool. Can play out wide in midfield as well as up top. However, he’d be useless up top with the US without a true #10 playmaking and providing him good service.
Dillon Powers – I was never much of a fan until seeing him in detail over in Dallas. He has power to hold the ball and an incredible work rate off the ball. Does he have flare or soccer savvy to be world class. Absolutely not! But, as the prototypical american player with power and pace, he is an asset to this team. Playing up top in a 4-4-2 is where he belongs though, not in midfield as he was used this week.
Moises Orozco – By far the best american born player I saw this week in Dallas. A friend of mine had mentioned to me the kid had game but it was confirmed with his performances this week. Orozco has what we’ve discussed on 3four3 as critical, AWARENESS! He is constantly looking around, not ball watching, so that when he receives his mind is made up where he is moving the ball to next. Mental speed instead of physical speed! If Rongen and all US soccer coaches gave this priority the US will one day be competitive in the international game. Now, the kid was wasted playing up top as the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 in the Mexico game. He did not exist on the field. However, in a 4-4-2 set up vs Vancouver he played offensive mid and ran the show. He was equally impressive in the 2nd half vs the germans from Frankfort creating opportunities for himself and teammates but not finishing them. It appears he’s heading to Tigres of Mexico. Let’s keep this one on the radar and surround him with more players that think like he does.
The backline – Both Kofi Sarkodie and Char Barson didn’t exactly prove to be players that can play at the highest level but they both play year round with Zarek and that counts for something when looking for defensive stability. Chad was wrongly sent off vs Mexico but commited a stupid game changing foul. Kofi does not get forward enough to be considered the guy at right back in my opinion. His defending is not bad. Jesus Gonzales has a quality left foot. Probably the best in the country but was played out of position in the 1st game vs Mexico. He didn’t set the field on fire in the other two games either. I think the kid has quality but needs to be on a team that holds possession and the US simply doesn’t so his quality is not seen.
Midfield – Fransisco Navas Cobo and Ruben Gonzales both showed some flair playing out wide in a 4-2-3-1 formation. They both possess great dribbling ability and can take defenders on. However, they would be better fits on teams that retain possession instead of the direct forward forward forward style the US plays.
CUT EM LOOSE, PLEASE!
Ok, Jared Watts and Ian Hines Ike weren’t exactly terrible but are nowhere near the level they need to be to stop top level competition at a world cup. No place for them as there are much better players on American soil.
Cesar Zamora has improved since I’ve last seen him but he’s not really a holding mid nor an offensive mid. He turns the ball over in dangerous areas that can be devastating at the highest level. There is no room for him unless you’re playing a dual defensive mid system and there are countless players that can do the job better than Zamora. The same goes for Will Packwood. Another player that grows on trees. He doesn’t do anything different. Doesn’t tackle well, isn’t greatest passer, doesn’t have much to offer.
The offensive minded players are by far the WORST in this pool. Bryan De la Fuente just runs around the field without a clue. Turns the ball over constantly. He’s an average player who I can find hundreds of in LA alone. Ryan Finley? I’ll keep my comments to myself. The kid has no business being on the National Team. Embarrassing to see him run about clueless on the field. No technique, no vision, no awareness, no finishing ability. He missed the easiest 1 v 1 with the keeper in the Whitecaps game that made the entire crowd aske themselves this question. How on earth is this kid on the National Team? Will Bates is an improved version of Ryan Finley and that isn’t saying much.
Both Goalkeepers did fine! We don’t have a problem producing those in the states.
We have the talent in this country to succeed on the worlds biggest stage. Are we picking the right players or heading for another failure with these u20’s and more excuses?