Commentary

USA-France: U-20 Men's World Cup Player Ratings

USA-FRANCE U-20 EXPRESS:
June 4 in Bydgoszcz, Poland
USA 3 France 2. Goals: Soto 25, 74, Rennicks 83; Gouiri 41, Alioui 55.
Att.: 8,469.

In what will go down as one of the biggest U.S. wins ever at a men's world championship, the USA beat France, 3-2, to reach the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup. Facing the next generation from the country that is the men's World Cup champion, Coach Tab Ramos' team took a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute, went into halftime tied 1-1, and trailed 2-1 with 35 minutes left. Sebastian Soto equalized with his second goal of the game and sub Justin Rennicks struck the gamewinner off a rebound from Sergino Dest's long-range shot. The USA faces Ecuador in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

USA PLAYER RATINGS
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)

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GOALKEEPER

Brady Scott, who started the first two games of the tournament, returned after David Ochoa played against Qatar. Neither French goals would have been easy saves but neither was unstoppable. On France's second goal, Moussa Diaby's shot went under Scott's leg, hit the post and rebounded out for Nabil Alioui to finish. Letting a stoppage-time free kick from midfield bounce through the area fortunately went unpunished. Best moment for Scott was when he came out of his penalty area to clear a 78th-minute through ball.

Player (Club) U-20 caps/goals (age)
4 Brady Scott
(FC Köln/GER) 12/0 (19)

DEFENDERS

France's first goal against the USA came after Chris Gloster's midfield clearance was intercepted to spark a counterattack that central defenders Chris Richards and Aboubacar Keita weren't in position to interfere with. On France's second goal, Diaby roasted Keita, who had to cover the USA's left flank, before taking that shot that rebounded to Alioui to make it 2-1 France. But otherwise, the U..S. backline battled well against the French, who came into the game having won all three of its group games, over Saudi Arabia (2-0), Panama (2-0) and Mali (3-2) -- while out-shooting and dominating all three in possession. On the 2-2 equalizer, Keita sent a precise pass along the sideline to Gloster, who relayed it to Ulysses Llanez, who found Tim Weah, who fed Soto. Right back Sergino Dest defended effectively and launched the long-range shot that goalkeeper Allban Lafont could only deflect, allowing for the gamewinner by Justin Rennicks.

Player (Club) U-20 caps/goals (age)
8
Sergino Dest (Ajax/NED) 11/1 (18)
8 Chris Richards (Bayern Munich/GER) 12/0 (19)
7 Aboubacar Keita (Columbus Crew) 6/0 (19)
7 Chris Gloster (Hannover 96/GER) 15/0 (18)

MIDFIELDERS

Richie Ledezma, making first start of the tournament, set up the opening goal with a perfectly timed pass to Soto after dribbling 35 yards through French territory. Brandon Servania, who won the ball before giving it to Ledezma on the sequence, and Paxton Pomykal had to battle against a polished French midfield and were limited in attacking opportinuties. Pomykal won a 50-50 clash that popped the ball out to Weah on the game-winning goal sequence and Pomykal got a second wind to defend tenaciously in midfield as the French sought the late-game equalizer.

Player (Club) U-20 caps/goals (age)
7 Richie Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven/NED) 5/0 18
7 Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas) 12/3 (19)
7 Brandon Servania (FC Dallas) 12/3 (20)

FORWARDS

Sebastian Soto perfectly finished into the side-netting from 13 yards to give the USA a 1-0 lead and made sure to stay onside to receive Tim Weah's pass before striking from 12 yards for the 2-2 equalizer. Weah's wing play had kept pressure on the French -- he set up Ledezma in the 12th minute for the USA's first shot -- and he showed up in the middle on the assist to Soto, and his blocked shot bounced to Dest on the buildup to the game-winning goal. Konrad De La Fuente failed to threaten from his wing.

Player (Club) U-20 caps/goals (age)
7 Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA) 4/1 (19)
9 Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96/GER) 9/6 (18)
4
Konrad De La Fuente
(Barcelona/ESP) 6/1 (17)

SUBSTITUTES

For the second straight game, Ulysses Llanez came off the bench and gave the USA a major boost. His high shot after winning the ball minutes after arriving proved to the French that USA could still surge. His dribbling in midfield helped keep possession for the USA and drew fouls from the French. He passed the ball to Weah ahead of Soto's equalizer. Justin Rennicks covered lots of ground and harassed French defenders and midfielders when they had the ball. He pounced on Lafont's deflection to stab home the gamewinner.

Player (Club) U-20 caps/goals (age)
8 Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg/GER) 13/7 (18)
8 Justin Rennicks (New England Revolution) 17/7 (20)
nr Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union) 13/3 (20)

NOTABLE
The USA was playing without playmaker Alex Mendez and defensive midfielder Chris Durkin, who were serving yellow-card suspensions.

TRIVIA
Three in a row. The USA is the only 2019 quarterfinalist that also reached the final eight of the previous two U-20 World Cups.

June 4 in Bydgoszcz, Poland
USA 3 France 2. Goals: Soto 25, 74, Rennicks 83; Gouiri 41, Alioui 55.
USA -- Scott; Dest, Keita, Richards, Gloster; Ledezma, Pomykal, Servania (Rennicks, 63); Weah, Soto (McKenzie, 90+1), De La Fuente (Llanez, 63).
France -- Lafont; N'Dicka, Kamara, Zagadou, Loiodice (Diallo, 79); Cuisance, Gouiri, Diaby; Alioui (Pintor, 64), Basila, Fofana (Adli, 85).
Yellow cards: none. Red cards: none.
Referee: Raphael Claus (Brazil).
Att.: 8,469.

Stats:
USA/France
Shots: 7/15
Shots on target: 4/5
Saves: 4/1
Corner Kicks: 2/6
Fouls: 12/10
Offside: 0/0
Possession: 42%/58%

13 comments about "USA-France: U-20 Men's World Cup Player Ratings".
  1. John Soares, June 4, 2019 at 6:02 p.m.

    What a difference a few days make!
    The USA is often accused of being big on physicality and low on technique/ability.
    Today, the USA was beaten physically...even pushed around but was by far the better team.
    Regardless of what happens next. This one was a real treasure!!!

  2. Bob Ashpole, June 4, 2019 at 6:47 p.m.

    Impressive. Regretfully, I didn't watch it (yet).

  3. R2 Dad, June 4, 2019 at 7:08 p.m.

    Great spirit to fight back when down, against a top team. I think that's the biggest benefit to this match (that i also haven't watched yet). Curious if De La Fuente wasn't so effective because he lacked service, made runs unfamiliar to teammates, or was just off--any of those could explain it, would like to see more of him. Now on to Ecuador, or should I say Hacuador. I'm betting there will be at least one injury to a US player due to their CONCACAF-like tendencies. Curious who will officiate the match. Is there some rule the officials can't be from the competitor's confederations? We've also got men's friendlies and Women's World Cup starting up--awesome month to watch soccer!

  4. John Soares, June 4, 2019 at 8:17 p.m.

    Gentlemen...worth watching!
    Not perfect, but dam good.
    Especially the, "Don't give up spirit".

  5. Wooden Ships, June 4, 2019 at 9:48 p.m.

    Saw some of the replay on FS1, 57th minute on. What struck me most was our patience in building up for the last two scores. Weren’t sending long hopeful balls, how refreshing. Weah’ pass for Soto’s second was excellent and Soto’s control of a heavily weighted pass was as good as his finish. Dest hit that ball flush. A better Keeper wouldn’t have given that one up though. I didn’t need to mention that, you have to force a mistake and he did. Ecuador will be tough, strong individually and will strike after  having lulled you. I like our chances though.

  6. beautiful game, June 4, 2019 at 10:33 p.m.

    Awareness and execution did the job; Bravo, for a solid team performance.

  7. Ginger Peeler, June 5, 2019 at 3:51 a.m.

    From the beginning of the game, it was obvious that the French have been playing professionally and with each other for a long time. But, even without all that playing time and familiarity playing with their teammates, our guys hung in there and never gave up. What did surprise me was the French aggressiveness! They indulged in lots of pushing and shoving and shirt-tugging! Honestly, I think they could hold their own against any of our fellow CONCACAF teams for roughness! The ref tacked on 5 minutes of extra time at the end of the second half and it was unbelievably intense.  Rennick’s game winning blast was beautiful and magical and....wow....just wow!

  8. Richard T. Lynch, June 5, 2019 at 6:25 a.m.

    Contrary to the article I thought France was the better team technically.  Fun to watch.  But 98% of the time the U.S. defense was tenacious and impressive; some great 1v1 tackles.  Soto is impressive; the kid can finish.  A game like this is won or lost in the midfield and I thought that group bent but didn't break and eventually did enough to give the US attackers a few good chances and frustrate the French.

  9. Ginger Peeler replied, June 5, 2019 at 9:56 a.m.

    Richard, I don’t think Mike intended to infer that the USA were the better team. After all, if you look at the stats at the end of the article, you’ll see that the only statistic of the game where the USA led was in fouls: France had 10 and we had 12. We were behind on EVERYTHING else. France did have some really fast players that got away from us, and made it look easy. Apparently, that’s one of the issues Ramos addressed at halftime and it definitely made a difference. Technically, France were the better team. I suspect they may have relaxed and underestimated us when they caught up and then went ahead of us. Yet, we certainly had our outstanding moments! We finally have a whole team that can play the technical as well as the physical game. I hope this means we’ve begun taking the steps toward a program that will catch us up to the rest of the soccer-centric world! Of course, it’ll take years, but, for those of us who are optimists, it looks like a good beginning. 

  10. stan kull, June 5, 2019 at 10:34 a.m.

    The timed/slipped passes for our two goals were top notch.  We did have phases of excellence, but France did have more of a professional level of play.  Our defence did fairly well.  I was concerned about our keeper not wanting to catch balls, but he may have not wanted to make a mistake.  His counterpart wanted to catch the hard shot from Dest, but dropped it for our winning goal.  He, in retrospect, should punched it out for a throw.  The USA did not ever back down trying to score goals.  Our coach has done well with this team.  It would be fun to see this team play the Gold Cup team.  I think they could beat the seniors several times out of 10 games played.

  11. Nick Gabris, June 5, 2019 at 12:07 p.m.

    Cudos to coach Ramos on the win. Keep saying for years now that he should be coaching the MNT. He has a knack for selecting new young talent. Very enjoyable game, had all the drama a good game needs. Loved the way the team never gave up, kept the attack going over and over again, just the way the game is supposed to be played. Well Done!!!

  12. humble 1, June 5, 2019 at 1:28 p.m.

    watched all but the first 25 minutes - don't agree that France was better technically - I saw it as even - US played well under pressure - frequently displaying spatial awareness and techical skills in 1-v-1 or 1-v-many situations to take good decisions and keep the ball.  This team has players that can take on defenders and they did in this game.   Certainly Ramos got it right with his subs - they were key in the come back.  It was also true that as he stated - US was getting killed on their left - french #10 was going by our left back - adjustments were made and that threat went away.  US showed a lot of character in this game.  Ecuador will be a totally different challenge - they have even more speed.

  13. Alvaro Bettucchi, June 6, 2019 at 2:59 p.m.

    This was almost the same match as the one we lost in the last final match of the world cup.  Passing, was the worst ever! Players that lost a pass or tackle, stopped or walked back. Passes up field from the goal keeper to a defensive player (especially to the center playmaker), they would take their time coming up to mid field and then pass it sideways to another defensive player.  Both wings would be open, an excellent time for a counter, but when the wings received it, it was to late. Teams can have a bad night, and lets' not blame the coach on this one. I hope against Ecuador will be a different story. If not, we have a BIG problem!

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