USA exits in shock defeat

[CONCACAF UNDER-20 CHAMPIONSHIP] Tabbed as one of the most talented U.S. teams ever assembled and loaded like never before with pro players, the U.S. under-20 national team won't be going to the world championships. Guatemala, host of the Concacaf Under-20 Championship, pulled a stunning upset when it beat Thomas Rongen's Americans, 2-1, at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City.

(Click here for video highlights.)

Sloppy play contributed to both Guatemala goals, but it can't be said that the Guatemala win was a fluke. It had its share of chances against a U.S. team that didn't live up to its hype -- and certainly appeared to suffer from overconfidence.

Gale Agbossoumonde, the most experienced player on the team, was quoted as saying Rongen said that "even our B team is going to be the best team we are going to play."

But it couldn't even beat Guatemala, which had not beaten the USA at the U-20 level in 47 years and will be going to the Under-20 World Cup for the first time.

The USA was playing without Juan Agudelo, who has been called up to the senior national team since last summer, and several other highly touted U-20s remained with their clubs in Europe or Mexico. It had some bad luck when Bobby Wood, who debuted this winter for German Second Division club 1860 Munich, limped off early in Saturday's game against Panama and didn't suit up for the Guatemala game.

UCLA's Kelyn Rowe, the lone collegian in the U.S. starting lineup, missed a hat trick of early chances, and Gerson Lima put Guatemala ahead in the 33rd minute when he beat U.S. goalie Zac MacMath to Kendel Herrarte's corner kick.

Derby County's Conor Doyle equalized in the 66th minute with a nifty chip over Guatemala keeper Jose Carlos Garcia, but Henry Lopez put Guatemala back ahead three minutes later when he fended off a weak challenge from Agbossoumonde and beat MacMath easily to the far post.

Having already coached the USA to the Under-20 World Cup quarterfinals in 2003 and 2007 but coming off a two-year cycle in 2009 that featured one of the weakest U-20 teams ever assembled, Rongen had left no stone unturned before picking this year's team that features several players with the potential to contribute to the senior national team.

Unfortunately, the Dutchman couldn't get the U-20s over the hurdle in the one game that mattered, and it almost surely will mean his tenure as U-20 coach will be over.

“Obviously we are extremely disappointed by this result,” said Rongen. “If you look at the game, you have to take your hat off to Guatemala. The home team came to play. They had a good game plan. We have to move on, and I firmly believe that within this group we have very capable players who will move on to represent our team at the senior team or Olympic level, but today wasn’t our day. It was a good host team and our team wasn’t able to click on all cylinders.”

Guatemala joins Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama as the four Concacaf representatives at the 2011 U-20 World Cup.

April 6 in Guatemala City
Guatemala 2 USA 1. Goals: G.Lima 33, Lopez 69; Doyle 66.
Guatemala -- Garcia, Moreno, Ramirez, Enoc, Del Aguila, Ceballos (Norales, 73), Castillo, Lopez (Bonilla, 79), Herrarte, Lemus, G.Lima (C.Lima, 46)
USA -- MacMath, Valentin, Kitchen, Agbossoumonde (Orozco, 82), Hernandez, Lletget, Okugo, Rowe, Garza (Salgado, 77), Doyle, Gyau.
Referee: Roberto Garcia (Mexico).
Att.: 13,805.

25 comments about "USA exits in shock defeat".
  1. Paolo Jacobs, April 7, 2011 at 12:28 a.m.

    I watched the game,,,, horrible,, course when u play an "away" game in Concacaf game as we did tonite,, the home team usually plays above themselves and it is difficult to get a favorable result due a racous crowd... saying that, it was a horrendous goalkeeping error on the 1 st goal led in by our keeper... come out and punch the ball or stay on ur line! Our possession was not passing balls were lacking... very disappointed... Rongren should resigned

  2. Gary Zelazny, April 7, 2011 at 9:10 a.m.

    Typical American soccer. Granted we were behind because of both offensive and defensive(goalie) inability to finiish. But the last 20 minutes of the game was an exercise in UGLINESS. The visiting side(USA) had no strategy except pounding the ball directly into the box on long,through tne middle so called passes even with their obvious skill at passing and dribbling. They panicked and did not play smart. The coach has to be responsible for much of this futility!

  3. Barry Thomas, April 7, 2011 at 9:37 a.m.

    If what Agbossoumonde is quoted as saying is accurate, then Rongen needs to renew his credentials as a coach/motivator. After playing the role he did in the loss of Subotic from the U.S. ranks, and now this disappointment, the movement to replace Rongen should pick up steam.

  4. Walt Pericciuoli, April 7, 2011 at 9:42 a.m.

    What is the definition of insanity? When will US Soccer learn that you cannot expect a different result by repeating the same actions over and over again. It is time to overhall the entire system,management,training, selection, coaching, etc including on the women's side.We have not made progress as a nation now for the last 10 years.

  5. Robert Kiernan, April 7, 2011 at 9:57 a.m.

    OK, here we go again, there was much grumbling after Rongen's side played so poorly at the last World Cup going out early, but this time they've failed even to qualify, after this he simply must either resign or be relived of his position. This team had clearly been playing a physical direct style, much in the manner of the senior side and has shown a similar pattern of picking up cards and lack of possession play. That Rongen had some strong performances a decade ago does little to justify his continuing as coach. With the prospect of our senior National side facing El Tri in the Gold Cup, likely in the final in LA in June, if they go down we are facing a few YEARS of having no real competition and a need to rebuild that senior side. Since Bob Bradley seems to also be in a visible slump and the idea of failing to win the Gold Cup points to our NOT playing in the next Confederations Cup either, several of these players are going to be needed to rebuild the senior side and that means whomever is placed in charge of the u-23/Olympic side will in effect be the person responsible for that rebuilding... so I say to Sunil Gulati, if Bunker Bob and his new fetish for playing the Lone Ranger 4-5-1 formation fails to get past the Mexicans... PLEASE this time actually search out a coaching staff that understands that mere size and speed is far less important than encouraging skill and guile in our players and playing a more possession style as is done by nearly all of the top World sides... if that means having to eat Bradley's contract, reportedly a million large a year, well that will have to be done...but giving these same fans of direct long ball play is hurting our teams and most be stopped, and that large long term contract given to Bradley is, methinks going to be Sunil's millstone... but the idea that there were precisely TWO coaches, Bradley and Klinsmann and ONLY two was a ridiculous on the face of it and still is. GUUS HIDDICK is under contract with Turkey now but that is the type of coach we need to go after, a pragmatic TEACHING coach with a real track record and Bruce Area's idea that only an American should or could coach our team is utter nonsense, what we require is a COMPETENT Coach...something that has been in short supply it seems of late. Our players deserve the best we can give them... and this failure is just the latest example of the fact that that hasn't been occuring.

  6. Kyle Stone, April 7, 2011 at 10:03 a.m.

    It surely cannot be the players who lost the game, right? No idea if rongen is competent, but lets look at the american soccer system. How many weeks out of the past 2yrs has this coach had these players? and a kid from college missed a hat trick, and another college goalie screwed up? who's their college coach? Who was their youth coach? Certainly can't blame the players.

  7. Robert Kiernan, April 7, 2011 at 10:12 a.m.

    Sorry for the typos... but this is embarrassing as hell, and while Guatemala should be congratulated, the fact remains that even amongst the relatively weak CONCACAF sides, Guatemala has never been much of a soccer power and when a demonstrably nation fails to live up to it's expectations...something must change and in this case it must be the coach...but it also must be the idea that our "physical abilities" and "fighting spirit" can make up for skill, guile and ensuing short we must change our style or become a nation of dinosaurs playing aimless long ball and being beaten by lesser but better coached sides. The Olympic Coaching position is looking to be more and more relevant to whether or not we improve or just spin our wheels... this simply is not acceptable and that needs to stated in no uncertain terms! (ICE)

  8. Robert Kiernan, April 7, 2011 at 10:20 a.m.

    Kyle the players were SELECTED BY THE COACH and the direct long ball style was ENCOURAGED BY THE COACH... were they on the field and did they fail? Certainly... but the fact remains that it was the coach, Thomas Rongen who selected these players and it was the coach who organized these players and in the end when things fail to jell and we failed to qualify it is THE COACH who is RESPONSIBLE... and that is the way of the World, and please remember that this by and large is NOT a collegiate team, it was based on many young PROFESSIONAL players and as Professionals they have to play at a higher level, but in the end if the coach isn't able to handle things after over TEN YEARS in the position, then he simply must go.

  9. Luis Arreola, April 7, 2011 at 10:23 a.m.

    The system is to blame. The culture is to blame. The arrogance is to blame. The unwillingness to make a change is to blame. The greediness is to blame.
    I am not in any way surprised by this result. There was no way USA was going to win by more than 2 goals this game vs a Guatemalan team that was playing good inspired soccer in this tournament. The USa did have some interesting players but only 1/2 was tecnically good enough to play posession soccer. That is why they still to this day play punt the ball to our fastest guy soccer. If you have a child playing in mostly any state in USA you can see this style being the most popular amongst top clubs. Why? Because you get wins at the earlier ages with faster,stronger players. When USA finally puts people in charge that will select the more tecnical players over size and speed, then each state will do the same, witch will force clubs to do the same. Clubs want the recognition for marketing purposes. It all goes together. What I don't understand is why there isn't more Hispanic players on the USA national teams. I don't care where you play in the States, the majority of best tecnical players are Hispanic. It's not a mystery. If the USA truly wants to dramatically improve it's results at these levels they should look into that.

  10. Luis Arreola, April 7, 2011 at 10:26 a.m.

    Does anybody know that a few Guatemalan players from this national team developed in the USA??

  11. Julio Vargas, April 7, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.

    If Thomas Rongen has some honor he needs to submit his resignation no later than noon today.

  12. Daniel Clifton, April 7, 2011 at 11:29 a.m.

    I agree with Walt Perricciuoli. We need to start right at the top and throw out the old management team and begin anew. We haven't made progress in the last 10 years, and on the women's side if anything we have gone backwards despite the fact that we have so many young women playing the game. The whole structure of our national system has to change beginning with skill development at the youngest levels. Klinsman knows this. He talks about the pyramid being upside down. He is the type of coach who should be running our USMNT.

  13. Bill Ford, April 7, 2011 at 11:33 a.m.

    I'm glad they lost and I hope the senior team keeps losing as well. Perhaps all the losing will finally open US Soccer's eyes to the fact that our idiotic style of big physical pound the ball soccer doesn't work.

  14. Bill Anderson, April 7, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.

    Blame the players all you want, but you can't fire them all. On the other hand, you can fire the staff in an instant. Rongen, Bradley, Flynn, Gulati, Arena, Schmid, Sarasen all of these "leading men" in US Soccer are DINOSAURS! None of them belong in the modern era of soccer development in this country. Can we get anyone in charge of anything who is less than 40 years old? I appreciate and understand the value of the work these men have done, but seriously, enough is enough...

  15. Jeffrey Organ, April 7, 2011 at 1:07 p.m.

    This loss is humiliating. Why Thomas Rongen was not fired before the plane took off from Guatemala is beyond me. Enough is enough is right!

  16. Quan Bui, April 7, 2011 at 1:59 p.m.

    What's a disgrace. A country this big with all the money and all these acadamies cannot beat a 2nd tier teams. What's that telling you? Go take a look at the German youth system and see why they can produce great players. I am actually happy to see that the US got humbled becos it say that the system is broken.

  17. Olivier Lurz, April 7, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.

    Ouch! Didn't Rongen say that this was the most talented group of players he has had in a long time? I guess it must be the coaching then. It is amazing to see that US Soccer expects different results while continuing to do the same thing. How Rongen was allowed to stay in charge of the U20 NT after the display of the US team at the 2009 WC is very difficult to understand.

  18. Mauricio Mejia, April 7, 2011 at 4:42 p.m.

    The coach lived up to his name and legacy: Tom "Wrong Again"...

  19. David Crowther, April 7, 2011 at 6:29 p.m.

    This is alarming. I didn’t see the game, but given that Guatemala had lost its previous match 3-1 to a 10-man Honduras, I really wasn’t expecting the US to have much trouble. For the US to lose on the road to Mexico or Costa Rica is one thing, but to Guatemala? Let’s see how the home team does tomorrow against a rampaging Costa Rica (12 goals in its first 3 games). If Guatemala can hold its own against the Ticos, then perhaps this wasn’t such a fluke.

  20. Alan R., April 7, 2011 at 6:36 p.m.

    Haters gonna hate, but the fact of the matter is that the US U-20 team was just not that good enough. I'm sorry, but if thats best talent America has, then wow. And as for what Gale Agboussemende or WHATEVER that Africans name is, said about the "B team is going to be the best team they're gonna ever play", then that definitely makes you a C level team.

    The best of the two won last night.

  21. James Froehlich, April 7, 2011 at 8:28 p.m.

    luis Arreola and Ric F --- Totally agree. The incompetence flows directly from the font of all soccer knowledge, US Soccer and Bob Bradley. Why are blogs like this the only place that there is a discussion of the woeful state of US Soccer? Because US Soccer is one big incestuous family, within which criticism is not allowed!!

  22. gary at k, April 7, 2011 at 11:07 p.m.

    you want another blog that straight up tells it like it is?
    Here you go:

  23. James Froehlich, April 8, 2011 at 12:15 p.m.

    Gary -- thank you!! I've just visited your site and it has now been bookmarked! Your write-up on the Argentina game was spot on. It's also nice to see someone who outs some of the blame on the lack of discrimination between good and bad soccer among US fans.
    You will be hearing from me -- thanks again.

  24. Joe Shoulders, April 8, 2011 at 6:10 p.m.

    How does Rongen keep getting jobs koaching in our National Team programs? I'm tired of this nonsense ... Walt Pericciuoli is right when he says "definition of insanity" .... So what will probably happen is that US Soccer will "fire" Rongen (again) and he become an MLS koach (again!) for some poor team that's stupid enough to hire this clown ... and the insanity cycle will go around and around (again!!)

  25. David Huff, April 11, 2011 at 3:14 p.m.

    The MLS/SUM/USSF connections are well known and are the source of our continuing mediocrity under the likes of Bradley, Rongen etc. Please boycott all of their games and merchandise sales until true reform is introduced, these people are all about $$, nothing else will work.

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