[USA UNDER-20 MEN]Tab Ramos, coach of the U.S. under-20 national team, says he has assembled a deep team for the difficult test of facing Spain, France and Ghana at the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey. The final decisions on his 21-player roster were made at the Festival International Espoirs in France.
“This has been a difficult process because we’ve built a team," he told USSoccer.com. "It’s not like we were passed on a team from U-18 that just came onto here. We started from scratch. We looked at I think 79 players through our process to come up with our final 21. It definitely wasn’t easy."
Ramos says the Festival International Espoirs in France, where the USA finished with one win and three ties, was an important opportunity for his staff to evaluate players as it went about making the final decisions on players.
“We felt that the Toulon tournament was falling at the wrong time for us because it made our World Cup preparation too long and had the players away from home for too long before going to the World Cup," he said. "But as it turns out, I think it was perfect. It was perfect because we had some injuries to deal with, we had some players we had to make some final decisions on, and we used the tournament just for that. It worked out perfectly, actually. We feel like we’re at a good point now after the Toulon tournament. Unfortunately, the one thing that I think is a little bit negative for us in the end is not winning our last game [against South Korea] because that’s a game where we put things together a little bit better than all the other games and a game that we carried. I thought we deserved to be up by a couple goals. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that done. When you look at a team, that’s part of the development, too, is learning how to win games. So we’re a little bit disappointed with the last game, but overall as we look at the tournament we got exactly what we wanted out of it.”
Ramos was pleased with the play of Wil Trapp, who had been a mainstay in qualifying, and two players who had not been with the team in March, Alonso Hernandez and Kellyn Acosta.
"Overall, if I had to say, probably Wil Trapp was our most consistent player in the tournament," he said, "and he has been playing well for a while now. We’re very happy with the way Wil’s coming along. But I think there were two finds in this tournament in particular. One, because we didn’t know him at all, was Alonso Hernandez. That was a great find for us. And then the other one that we’ve known really well and in U.S. Soccer is someone who has worn the crest for a long period of time, is Kellyn Acosta. Even though he’s a younger player, he proved to us that he can really help us. Those two players are the biggest surprises.”