Tab Ramos from Qatar: Rating the USA's showing, tactical trends and exceptional Brazil

U.S. Hall of Famer Tab Ramos, as he was at the 2018 World Cup, has been part of Spanish-language Telemundo's broadcasting team in Qatar. Ramos played for the USA at the 1990, 1994 and 1998 World Cups and was a U.S. assistant coach at the 2014 World Cup. Half the players on the USA 2022 World Cup roster — including Tyler Adams, Tim Weah and Sergino Dest — saw action with the U.S. U-20 national team during Ramos tenure as U-20 national team coach, which included three straight U-20 World Cup quarterfinal appearances. Ramos is currently head coach of USL Championship club Hartford Athletic.

SOCCER AMERICA: Your reaction to the USA's performance?

TAB RAMOS: I think overall our performance doesn’t rank towards the top with big wins like in 1930, 1950, 1994 or 2002* — nor the bottom, like 1934, 1990, 1998. It was somewhere in the middle.

SA: What impressed you?

TAB RAMOS: Having watched just about every team live in the stadiums, I would match our central three — Yunus Musah, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie — with any other central three players of any country. I think that they are that competitive.

SA: What could have been better?

TAB RAMOS: Our No. 9 [center forward] and our center back pairing should have been figured out way before this tournament started. That became difficult to overcome.

SA: Any personal feelings about watching the players you coached with the U-20s and seeing them perform at the World Cup?

TAB RAMOS: I know that they all play on important clubs, but there is nothing like the World Cup when you get to defend your country. Really proud seeing them perform at such a high level with the world watching.

USA starting XI vs. the Netherlands. Back row (L-to-R): Matt Turner, Walker Zimmerman, Tim Weah, Yunus Musah, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson. Front row: Tyler Adams, Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Sergino Dest, Jesus Ferreira. Among the nine players on the U.S. roster who played for Tab Ramos at U-20 World Cups are Kellyn Acosta, Adams, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Luca de la Torre, Dest, Shaq Moore, Josh Sargent, Weah, DeAndre Yedlin.

SA: What can U.S. Soccer do to best prepare the USA to have an exceptionally impressive World Cup 2026 performance?

TAB RAMOS: Preparing will be a challenge. We continue to be behind the top European countries and the top South American countries. The Concacaf Nations League does not help at all in closing that gap.

I would like to see us enter Copa America and try to figure out a schedule with European countries in it.  But, ultimately, it will be up to the players and how they do individually at their clubs and the younger players who will push some of these players out.

SA: Have you spotted any trends so far at this World Cup, perhaps in terms of tactics or playing style?

TAB RAMOS: I think that France winning the previous World Cup without the ball left a mark; possession is no longer the weapon of choice. The teams best organized with their defending and who can exploit spaces left by opposing players have done the best.

Brazil is always the exception; no trends apply when it comes to Brazil. They will beat you with happy soccer or they will go home. Thank you, Brazil!

SA: Any teams you've been particularly impressed with?

TAB RAMOS: Brazil, France, and I enjoyed watching Ecuador, Portugal, and Senegal play.

SA: Any teams you've been particularly disappointed by?

TAB RAMOS: Belgium and Denmark are obvious choices, but I also have not liked the way Argentina has played.

Tab Ramos flanked by Telemundo colleagues Ana Jurka and Copan Alvarez in Qatar.

SA: Are there any aspects of the World Cup in Qatar that you like that are unique?

TAB RAMOS: It's been incredible to be able to attend multiple World Cup games day after day.  We know it won’t happen again, unfortunately.

[Editor's note: All of Qatar's eight stadiums are within a 20-mile radius.]

SA: What might be missing that other World Cups had?

TAB RAMOS: We know that the FIFA World Cup just keeps getting better and better, I can’t imagine that this World Cup is missing anything, it has been amazing.

SA: Any other highlights for you at this World Cup so far?

TAB RAMOS: The third game of the group stage was extremely exciting in every group. I don’t remember other World Cups having been as exciting across the board.

* World Cup games won by USA. 1930: USA 3 Paraguay 0. USA 3 Belgium 0. 1934: none. 1950: USA 1 England 0. 1990: none. 1994: USA 2 Colombia 1. 1998: none. 2002: USA 3 Portugal 2. USA 2 Mexico 0. 2006: none. 2010: USA 1 Algeria 0. 2014: USA 2 Ghana 1. 2022: USA 1 Iran 0.

Photos: Telemundo & Brad Smith/ISI Photos. 

20 comments about "Tab Ramos from Qatar: Rating the USA's showing, tactical trends and exceptional Brazil".
  1. frank schoon, December 7, 2022 at 8:52 a.m.

    Why wasn't Tab asked which team does he think was better the 2002 or 2022 and let him explain the difference between those players, also should have asked were the players he played with better than this current crop.....

    "Possession is no longer the weapon of choice" ,laying back and counterattacking. Wow, what to look for in the future of soccer. I think I might begin to look at Duck Bowling,  instead of soccer. Does ESPN+ carry duck pin bowling...

    France won because they didn't want the ball. This sounds good for non-creative coaches, of which their is 99% of.... It is much easier to teach defense and counter attacking soccer for you only hace to prepare for the eventuality of the other team losing the ball. What happens when everybody plays with the intention of waiting for the other team to lose the ball. Can you imagine paying good money to watch two teams playing each other like Morocco....

    Like Tab says, THANK YOU BRAZIL!!!!! for not playing this garbage, for at least one team shows you how to win with attacking soccer, and I hope Holland gets their ass kicked  soon for playing this defense garbage, 5-3-2 system...

    The hand writing is on the wall for soccer, the reason all these coaches choose to play defense is the lack of good offensive players. Yes, its time to develop better players...When you can't even shoot a penalty decently, like Spain....there is obviously something wrong going on in player development...

  2. Santiago 1314 replied, December 7, 2022 at 10:07 p.m.

    What would this Group of Players PLAYED like with;
    Vermes, Ramos, Perez, Bliss as Coaches.???

  3. frank schoon replied, December 8, 2022 at 8:27 a.m.

    Santi, I have no idea how much better the US could have played with those individuals you mentioned. I probably agree with you but I'm looking at a faulty product...The US players are at a stage where they need a lot of work and until the USSF begins to realize we need to develop our players better, I wonder how much better the US team would be even with those  coaches you mentioned...

  4. uffe gustafsson replied, December 8, 2022 at 5:35 p.m.

    Yes don't care much of walking up to take the penalty as well this new cute of skip hopping before talking the shoot.
    very few goalies can stop a powerful shoot.

  5. Brian Yaney replied, December 9, 2022 at 9:42 a.m.

    Time to change some rules so attackers aren't so stifled and the game isn't stacked for defenders. Open up the offsides rule--you shouldn't be offsides unless every atom of your body is beyond every atom of the second-to-last defender. Restrict goalies' use of hands to the goal box.

  6. Greedy Striker, December 7, 2022 at 9:07 a.m.

    You just said Spain don't produce good enough offensive players for you. Just stop.

  7. frank schoon replied, December 7, 2022 at 9:34 a.m.

    Name me some! All the great ones , Distefano, Cruyff, Kubillas, Puskas, Maradona were all bought and weren't Spanish...Oh, you mean, Ronaldo, Messi, Benzema...they aren't Spanish ,cupcake......
    A country like Spain has produced SO FEW great strikers...Please educate me on the GREAT STRIKERS of Spain....In the last World Cup, they had to give a Brazilian Spanish citizenship to play striker. The only decent striker they had is retired and played for Real Madrid and then went to Germany play in has last 2 years, is Raul....

  8. frank schoon replied, December 7, 2022 at 9:49 a.m.

    Hey, Greedy, I forgot to mention, Zlatan, Ronaldinho, Henri, Romario, Figo, Stoichkov, Eto'h, Lewandoski, Neymar, Suarez, oops!!!, they are not Spanish....

  9. Greedy Striker, December 7, 2022 at 10:13 a.m.

    Di Stefano, Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, Raúl, Torres, Silva, Fabregas, Busquets, Thiago, Cazola...if you don't like Spain, fine, but stop showing your ignorance.

  10. frank schoon replied, December 7, 2022 at 10:55 a.m.

    Hey , Greedy, we're talking great strikers, not midfielders like xavi, Iniesta,fabregas, busquets.... strikers???? Do you know the difference between a midfielder and a striker is???. Busquets??? are your serious?....he's a midfielder who rarely scores , I think he scored about 2goals in 6years.  Do you know what a strikers or a goal scorer is. Only Villa and Silva have scored but are not known as great strikers... You need to do your homework a little better...go read a book on what a midfielder and striker is....
    Distefano is not Spanish is Argentian, and Raul is a great striker who is Spanish...but as far as finding great Spanish strikers go , go look under a rock....

  11. Philip Carragher, December 7, 2022 at 11:09 a.m.

    Thank you Tab Ramos and Mike W. for this piece that points to the sore spot in this sport: it can be boring and many of the group games were. TR's insight that France started this soccer yawn by winning by constricting the joy and delight of entertaining soccer helps me understand why I found myself dismayed watching one team park the bus until they got the ball and attacked the other team who scrambled back to form their bus shaped blockade. This damages the game by giving all the non-believers, those who don't care for soccer because it's boring, verification of their perspective. I know there are many who believe that our participation in Qatar will help U.S. soccer to progress, but maybe we're on a bridge to nowhere and falling asleep at the wheel. I can understand how our presence can help our soccer, but by getting more sports fans, who don't like soccer and disrespect soccer, to tune in and witness this metronome of passing around in front of a bus, we've lost an opportunity that we may never get back. You're right Frank. Thank you Brazil!

  12. Kent James replied, December 7, 2022 at 1:24 p.m.

    The success of parking the bus as a strategy will destroy soccer if it becomes pervasive.  As a risky strategy that occasionally allows an underdog to snatch a win from certain defeat, it has its uses.  But if everybody does it, as in nobody wants to possess the ball because the counter is always more effective, that will be the end of an enjoyable game to watch.   I remember when Spain played the Dutch in the 2010 WC final, when (as a neutral) you're looking forward to a great game with a lot of ball skills from two powers that traditionally emphaszie skillful soccer, and the Spanish team just dominated possession, and sqeezed out a 1-0 game in an incredibly boring game.  

    I think the way you reward attacking soccer (which is more fun for everyone, players and fans), is make the goal marginally bigger (I'd start with 1' higher and 1 yd wider), so that shooting from distance is more likely to be effective.  That would force teams to defend further away from goal (to avoid giving up those now more effective distance shots), which would open up space in front of goal.  

  13. frank schoon replied, December 7, 2022 at 2:43 p.m.

    Kent , <"making the goals marginally bigger">Really??? Yes, perhaps for the less sophisticated crowd or  for the 'horns and tooter' crowd...
    So often I hear this nonsense making the goals bigger to make soccer more exciting. There is so much more  to improve on in soccer ,in SKILLS,in SHOOTING in many various forms, DRIBBLING all with either feet increase ball handling skills, all with either foot...No we need don't goal enlargement, field enlargement, trap doors on the flanks to stop fast wings, or make the ball smaller giving it more room between defenders legs...Instead we need to be more creative in developing soccer players.

    When you look at youth games even college ,all the games look the same, all the players look the same and all the play the same....We have way too many coaches, of which most of them can't teach and develop players. 

  14. Santiago 1314 replied, December 7, 2022 at 3:16 p.m.

    Kent, I'm with You....Bigger Goals...
    The Defenders and GKs are Much Bigger now than Previous Generations.
    But, I Would Go... Pro Level Only...
    2ft HIGHER,,, 1 FOOT WIDER each side
    We Already see 2 or 3 balls go Off The Post per Game, So, don't need much Width.
    And the Higher would be similar to Basketball, 10ft... and would Force the Goalkeepers to Stay back more on their Line.
    I would also Change ALL Intentional "Same Team" Touches Back to the Goal Keeper as "NON-Catchable" by the Goalkeeper. (INdirect FK to Opponent, for Catching it)

  15. Greedy Striker, December 7, 2022 at 12:06 p.m.

    You make zero sense, Frank. You're arguing for more entertaining futbol and you go after Spain?!?! Just stop wasting time typing.

  16. frank schoon replied, December 7, 2022 at 12:31 p.m.

    Greedy, Where did I state that Spanish soccer is not entertaining! Or is that something you project yourself. How does that tie in with my statement of Spain not producing great strikers. Spanish soccer is entertaining because they buy a lot of foreign talent. ....They buy great players from foreign countries to make it entertaining...Look at Real Madrid, and Barcelona as an example. 

  17. Santiago 1314 replied, December 7, 2022 at 3:19 p.m.

    Greedy...  I LOVE ESPANA ... But THAT FARCA Crap, Played by Small little Midgets, who can't Run Past anyone, and can only Play Back and Side-ways... IS NOT ENTERTAINING>>> 
    It's why Basketball invented the Play Clock.!!!

  18. frank schoon replied, December 8, 2022 at 10 a.m.

    Santi, it is not a question of running past anyone, unlike what Memphis did to Adams because the latter was taking a nap. The ball needs to do the running, which is a lot faster , or beat an opponent with a pass which require techniqe and positional movement or better all you need is one step on the opponent to further move the ball, shoot or pass.  

    The problem with Farca or rather Spanish soccer is that they lost their way and they need players to be a able to penetrate down the flank, like a Ronaldinho, Messi, Alves, etc. We need to get back to WINGERS that can handle good crosses bending away from the goal and forcing the opponent's back to run all the way back to the endline.

    BTW, talking about Libero/sweeper that we like so much to see again. Check this out, this Cruyff's last game for Barcelona .He played Libero.... This is what we need again, look what he causes when he moves up with the ball....His brother once told, Johan another hundred years if he played sweeper...

    Johan Cruyff vs Las Palmas | Cruyff plays as a Libero in his last game for Barcelona - YouTube

    ALSO check this out

    O GÊNIO CRUYFF LANCES #cruyff #futebol - YouTube

  19. Kevin Leahy, December 8, 2022 at 4:07 p.m.

    If you really want to fix the game start by red carding tactical fouls, standing in front of free kicks and fix the offside ruling. Everything done is to help the defense.

  20. Richard Crow, December 8, 2022 at 10:28 p.m.

    Before we talk about changing rules or making goals bigger, we should try awarding zero points for 0-0 draws in the group stage of a WC or domestic league play. Award a point for a 1-1 draw, 2-2, 3-3, etc. This proposal wouldn't help in the knockout rounds, but who would take a defensive team to the WC, if 0-0 draws don't get points in group play? The third games in group play produced some goals and excitement because many teams had to attack. Change the incentives, not the rules!

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