[UNDER-20 WORLD CUP]Coach Tab Ramos said the USA's 3-1 win over Portugal in its last game before leaving for Turkey gives it momentum heading into its opening game at the Under-20 World Cup Friday against Spain.
“Portugal is a very technical team and a very aggressive team," Ramos told USSoccer.com. "Physically, they’re strong. They have all their players playing on big clubs. It was a difficult game. It’s never easy to beat a European team on their home soil, but we’re happy with the team. It’s a good win for us.”
Working with his full team for the first time, Ramos fielded what will likely be his starting lineup against Spain. (The Colorado Rapids' Shane O'Neill is suspended for the first game so Javan Torre of UCLA will likely start in his place in the middle of the backline alongside captain Caleb Stanko.)
“Everybody knows over the past few weeks we’ve been mixing things and trying to get guys together and see what the best combinations are on the field," added Ramos. "I think we’re finding that slowly. Today we played an excellent team and our team responded well, and we got a big win. I think this gives us momentum and some confidence going into the World Cup. We do realize that Spain is going to be another story, but we have a few days to prepare for that.”
Two of the U.S. goals -- a free kick by Jose Villarreal and a goal by O'Neill, who beat Portugal's offside trap -- came off set pieces.
“Since we’ve been together for the past couple weeks," said Ramos, "we’ve been able to work on a lot of different things. The more time we spend together, the better we are in terms of set pieces – not only offensively, but defensively, as well. I think some of that came together today. We’re happy about that. We’re happy that the players are focused enough to grasp all these things and the players did a great job. It was not an easy game by any means.”