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USA stays alive in Group of Death
by Mike Woitalla, June 24th, 2013 1:32PM

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TAGS:  under-20 world cup

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[U-20 WORLD CUP] The USA rebounded from its 4-1 opening loss to Spain to tie another European power, France, 1-1, and keep its hopes alive of reaching the knockout stage of the U-20 World Cup in Turkey despite failing to convert a penalty kick.

France, which opened with a 3-1 win over Ghana, tested U.S. keeper Cody Cropper only once in the first half -- a Yaya Sanogo volley from 14 yards that Cropper punched over the crossbar.

The French had most of the possession, but the Americans had two chances in first-half stoppage time: a poorly struck header by Jose Villarreal and a low shot from Luis Gil that keeper Alphonse Areola handled with little difficulty.

France took the lead with Sanogo penalty kick two minutes into the second half. Central defender Javan Torre, who had struggled badly against Spain, was looking much more composed on Monday before the clumsy foul on Dimitri Foulquier right on the penalty-area edge.

Mario Lemina clipped U.S. striker Mario Rodriguez’s ankle for the penalty kick that Gil squandered in the 65th minute. Jean Cristophe Bahebeck hammered a 20-yard shot off the crossbar a minute later.

Rodriguez was also the American fouled for the 85th minute free kick that led to Daniel Cuevas’ clutch goal. Gil, who had shot so weakly from the spot, cleverly delivered a sharp low pass into the penalty area instead of lofting the free kick amid the tall French defenders. The pass struck Lucas Digne and popped up for Cuevas -- who entered the game seven minutes earlier -- to volley hard and low into the far corner from seven yards out.

Prior to the game, U.S. coach Tab Ramos warned his players about playmaker Paul Pogba, who played 27 Italian Serie A and eight Champions League games for Juventus last season.

“We knew that Pogba had over a hundred touches in the last game and we wanted to limit that,” Ramos said. “I think we did that. We did a pretty good job of limiting him.”

Midfielder Benji Joya received his second yellow card of the tournament after tangling with Pogba late in the game and both are suspended for the final Group A games.

June 24 in Istanbul
USA 1 France 1
Goals: Cuevas 85; Sanogo (pen.) 48.
USA -- Cropper; Yedlin, O'Neill, Torre, Ocegueda; Joya (Lopez, 88), Trapp; Villarreal (Cuevas, 77), Gil, Rodriguez; Hernandez (Sorto, 46).
France -- Areola; Foulquier, Umtiti, Pogba, Kondogbia, Sanogo, Bahebeck (Veretout, 74), Digne, Lemina, Sarr, Thauvin (Ngando, 46).
Yellow Cards: USA -- Sorto 62, Joya 83; France -- Umtiti 79, Pogba 83, Sarr 84.
Referee: Carlos Vera (Ecuador)


7 comments
  1. James a Sutton
    commented on: June 24, 2013 at 2:16 p.m.
    Well done, gives a lot of hope to see the young men play with tenacity and style. They adapted well and, of course, never gave up.

  1. Peter Skouras
    commented on: June 24, 2013 at 2:49 p.m.
    HUGE POINT for the United States!!! They battled, clawed, fought until the end!!! This is Football...being able to "get results vs a "Nation" whose footballing history is gigantic despite a "poor" French side who is going "nowhere" with performances like today. Keep fighting like you did today United States and we might surprise the world! CONGRATULATIONS TO THE US-20'S.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: June 25, 2013 at 9:58 a.m.
    A brave performance by all against a very big and imposing French team. Soccer was not as good as against Spain, but the results were deserved and what mattered at this point. We were physically overmatched at every position.Somehow, our boys gave enough effort to overcome and earn a draw with what I think is the strongest team in the tournament.

  1. Randy McKee
    commented on: June 25, 2013 at 10:05 a.m.
    Walt you are spot on. It was easy to see that there had been a discussion about defensive organization. The team can't continue to squander opportinities. That is a mark for lack of professionalism that can't be explained away.

  1. Robert Heinrich
    commented on: June 25, 2013 at 3:10 p.m.
    Except for occasional bursts, France played without much urgency, as if their superior physical attributes and technical ability alone would win the game for them. They won't go very far without much greater intensity and purpose in their play. I agree with the point about lack of professionalism. I think that professional attitude develops if you are immersed in a thoroughly, top to bottom, professional culture for several years--the earlier the better (say age 10-12.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 25, 2013 at 3:15 p.m.
    Plenty of squandered opp's on the French side also and they were made by players of a lot higher professional level. Comparisons of defensive organization are somewhat offbase since Ramos had them playinng a high line against Spain and 8 behind the ball against France. interesting that Nigeria also tried a high line against the senior Spanish side with somewhat similar results. Nevertheless, if a team can maintain that high line without getting caught, it does seem to give Spain some problems. Italy??

  1. Robert Heinrich
    commented on: June 25, 2013 at 3:24 p.m.
    Good point about France's missed chances. I think Italy lacks the quickness of Ghana and will not be able to mark Spain's counterattack if they try to keep a high line. I believe Italy will bunker down with 9 behind the ball and try to exploit Spain's high line on the counter.


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