[UNDER-20 WORLD CUP] What a difference! Three days after being embarrassed against Germany, the USA buried Cameroon, 4-1, in a wild game Tuesday at the Under-20 World Cup in Suez. What went right against Cameroon that had gone so wrong against the Germans?
Coach Thomas Rongen made five changes in the starting lineup, and the new starters all made contributions.
The key was the insertion of Dilly Duka and Bryan Arguez, both subs against Germany, in the center of midfield along with Jared Jeffrey. Their patience and ball control allowed the Americans to have a semblance of possession in the first half and control the rhythm of the game when they had Cameroon scrambling in the second half.
All three second-half goals were on rapid-fire counterattacks with Arguez and Jeffrey the instigators
On the killer second goal two minutes after the restart and only seconds after Ike Opara broke up a Cameroonian attack, Jeffrey sprung Duka, who fed Tony Taylor. On the fourth goal in stoppage time, Jeffrey won the ball in the center circle and quickly found Brian Ownby, who broke free behind the Cameroonian backline and beat Beyokol from a sharp angle to the far post.
Duka scored the third goal when he raced down the left wing and launched a long ball over goalie Francois Beyokol that landed inside the far post -- Duka said afterwards he heard shouts from the sideline that the keeper was out of position -- but credit must also go to Arguez for his work on the play that followed intense Cameroonian pressure.
A desperate clearance by goalie Brian Perk came to Arguez, who laid the ball off to left back Jorge Flores, took the return pass and turned away from two Cameroonian players before finding Duka -- waiting onside on the left wing just inside the Cameroonian half.
The other newcomers in the starting lineup had an impact.
Danny Cruz brought energy to the right wing and was pushed from behind on a loose ball for a foul that led to the first U.S. goal in the dying stages of the first half. Opara's header was knocked off the line by Beyokol. Taylor collected the rebound and passed the ball to Arguez, who hammered it into the roof of the net from six yards out.
Sheanon Williams, who was kept out of the opening game because of an ankle injury, returned to the lineup at right back, and Flores, who had come on in the first half of the Germany game for injured captain Kyle Davies, again filled in at left back.
"If you win 4-1 you're clearly happy," said Rongen afterwards, "but I'm more happy about the fact that our team responded well to a disappointing opening game against Germany. It showed some great character and resilience to manage this game, and it was a huge game for us. We felt we needed three points to get ourselves back in the race for the group, and we did that. I'm very proud of the way that the team handled the loss against Germany and focused our energy on Cameroon. We made a few changes that helped us and that was a result that we desperately needed."
Except for Opara's foul that led to the Cameroonian penalty converted by -- get this name -- Banana Yaya in the 74th minute, the Americans didn't suffer the kind of breakdowns that were so costly against the Germans -- or at least Cameroon didn't punish their errors like the Germans had done so clinically on Saturday.
Indeed, Cameroon was as bad as the USA was good on a crazy night in Suez. The Lions had plenty of good chances but rarely could put their shots on target. Their defending was so lackluster that the Americans could have had six or seven goals with better finishing.
Besides the USA, the big winners were the Suez fans, who were treated to a wild game featuring 34 shots, 32 fouls and six yellow cards.
The USA closes out group play against South Korea on Friday (TV: ESPN2, Galavision, 12:40 pm ET). It will be assured of a berth in the round of 16 with a win or tie and could possibly remain alive even if it loses.
South Korea and Germany played to a 1-1 tie, leaving the Group C standings as follows:
1. Germany 4 points;
2. USA 3 points (4-4 goal difference);
3. Cameroon 3 points (3-4);
4. South Korea 1 point.
Sept. 29 in Suez
USA 4 Cameroon 1. Goals: Arguez 45, Taylor 47, Duka 66, Ownby 90; Yaya pen. 74.
USA -- Perk, Williams, Opara, Agbossoumonde, Flores, Arguez, Cruz, Duka (Powers, 75), Jeffrey, Shea, Taylor (Ownby, 73).
Cameroon -- Beyokol, Yaya, Fomen, Boumale, Essengue, Bapidi (Tabot, 73), Akono Effa, Owana, Teikeu, Zoua (Tiko, 51), Djousse (Ekeng Ekeng, 51).
Yellow Card: USA -- Williams 62, Opara 73, Jeffrey 75, Ownby 79; Cameroon -- Fomen 21, Yaya 90.
Referee: Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay).