The United States entered the group stage of the 2013 Under 20 FIFA World Cup with hopes of advancement, but with Spain, France and Ghana as their opponents, this tournament was a bit too tough to handle both on paper as well as on the field.
With players like Luis Gil, Jose Villarreal and Cody Cropper, the U.S. were able to create offense as well as make huge stops, but in the end, they were only able to earn one point… and the opponent was the French.
In the first game, the U.S. were thrashed 4-1 by Spain — the Spanish had a 4-0 lead until the final 12 minutes when Gil hit a sensational strike that the keeper had no chance at saving. The goal was obviously too little, too late.
In the second game, France were winning 1-0, then Luis Gil was unable to convert a penalty kick. However, in the end, the U.S. were able to salvage the 1-1 draw when Daniel Cuevas hit home after a Gil free kick. Even in this game the U.S. were not the better side.
Against Ghana, the U.S. were down 2-0, struck one back, then were put away 4-1. The African side outplayed them for the majority of the match and the score deservedly reflected so.
There is no question, however, the United States has stars of the future that will help the Olypmic as well as the senior national side compete at the highest level.
Gil wore the No. 10 and his performance, confidence as well as ability all proved that he deserved to.
Villarreal has talent, but at the highest stage, he seems to get a bit nervous. Once he moves past this, he will shine.
Cropper, the goal keeper, made some huge saves that kept the U.S. in games for awhile. Even though they lost two games identically at 4-1, those scores could have been even more one-sided. He is a keeper for the future for sure.
Now, the young guys need to reflect on this tournament and realize that not much was expected of them against three world talents. They gave it their all which is what matters. When they learn a bit more about themselves and the game in general, their new-found experience will lead them to new heights.
U.S. soccer is headed towards a brighter direction than ever before. Currently, that may seem false, but time will tell.