Curb Your Enthusiasm: US Youth National Teams, Prospect Hype, and Youth Development Thread

dirtynine

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If the US can somehow get by France, the bracket opens up somewhat all the way to the final.

Would have to play the winner of Uruguay / Ecuador, and then one of Japan, South Korea, Senegal or Nigeria. Lots of unknowns, but I wouldn’t hate their chances against any of those teams.
 

Titans Bastard

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If the US can somehow get by France, the bracket opens up somewhat all the way to the final.
It's a very tough task, but weird things are possible, especially at the youth level. France is very good, but Ramos needs to not put out a total chickenshit lineup that lacks any sort of balance. It's unwise to play a wide-open game against France, but we have talent and we need to avoid the annoying mistake of putting too many defensive players on the field, which allows the opponent to set up shop in the US half and wear them down.

I feel that Ramos went too conservative with his midfields against both Ukraine and Qatar. I'm worried he'll do it again and there won't be a strong connection between the deep-lying midfielders and the attackers upfield.
 

Quintanariffic

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It's a very tough task, but weird things are possible, especially at the youth level. France is very good, but Ramos needs to not put out a total chickenshit lineup that lacks any sort of balance. It's unwise to play a wide-open game against France, but we have talent and we need to avoid the annoying mistake of putting too many defensive players on the field, which allows the opponent to set up shop in the US half and wear them down.

I feel that Ramos went too conservative with his midfields against both Ukraine and Qatar. I'm worried he'll do it again and there won't be a strong connection between the deep-lying midfielders and the attackers upfield.
IOW, he’ll start Servania over Ledezma with Cerrillo at the 6.
 

Titans Bastard

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IOW, he’ll start Servania over Ledezma with Cerrillo at the 6.
Exactly.

I've heard that the staff isn't happy with how Cerrillo has looked in training, so if he's become persona non grata to Tab, we could be bailed out by that + Durkin's suspension with a Servania/Pomykal/Ledezma midfield.

I guess we'll find out extremely soon.
 

Titans Bastard

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Ah, the Cerrillo theory has come to pass - he's still on the bench.

Weah — Soto — de la Fuente
Pomykal (c) — Ledezma
Servania
Gloster — Keita — Richards — Dest
Scott​

So, this lineup appears to have solid balance in the midfield.

Keita over McKenzie is an interesting choice. I rate McKenzie higher in general, but he's still coming off his appendectomy and has looked a bit shaky & clumsy so far. Keita has been solid, but not spectacular, until a poor showing against Qatar. His distribution is more suspect than his defending.
 

67YAZ

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This is...a good line up? What's going in with Tab? Is he ok?

It's going to be a tough go of it against France, but this lineup provides the best opportunity to win. Pomykal & Ledezma are going to have to do a lot of work to make that happen - dropping deep to defend, sparking the counter, pushing up high to support the attack. I've yet to see Servania make a meaningful forward pass, so it really is going to fall on these 2 guys. Should be fun.
 

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Link for stream

Up 1-0 30 mins in. didn't see the goal.

edit: aaaaaand tied. France has some very classy interplay, soft chips, dummies, etc. We lack subtlety by comparison.
 
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Titans Bastard

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Only able to watch bits and pieces, but the US goal was nice from Ledezma and Soto:


RSL must be loving that both these guys walked for free from their academy.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Just because I may never have the chance to say it again...

"A CRUCIAL INTERNATIONAL GOAL FOR THE REVOLUTION MAN!"
 

67YAZ

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US takes the lead in the 83rd minute, 3-2. Hold on boys, stay steady.
 

67YAZ

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It's all over! Fantastic win. Amazing what a couple positive-minded midfielders can do for a team.
 

ninjacornelius

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Someone on Twitter called Paxton Pomykal the American James Milner, and I think that the comparison is apt. The dude just never stops running. It looked like he took a bad knock at about 25' that would keep him hobbled, but he played the full 90 and looked ready to go full-throttle if it came to extra time. I love this kid.

Up next is Ecuador. I don't know much about their squad, as most of them appear to play domestically.
 

Titans Bastard

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Uh, holy shit. I checked my phone and saw it was 2-1 in the 65th minute, and did NOT expect to see this final result.

I believe this is the first time the US has beaten a European team in the U20 WC since the 6-1 beatdown of Poland in 2007.
 

ninjacornelius

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I know it's silly to get worked up over U20 results, but France's CBs and GK get regular starts for the senior squads at Dortmund, Marseille, and Fiorentina. These dudes are already professional studs, and the Americans brought them to the damn woodshed.
 

Titans Bastard

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I know it's silly to get worked up over U20 results, but France's CBs and GK get regular starts for the senior squads at Dortmund, Marseille, and Fiorentina. These dudes are already professional studs, and the Americans brought them to the damn woodshed.
I actually don't believe it's silly to get worked up over U20 results.

There's a lot of uncertainty over which prospects make it and which won't — some top guys flame out, others bloom a bit later — but I think results tell you something real about the overall quality of the age cohort.

We had some bad results and REALLY ugly soccer from some U20 and U17 teams in the late 2000s and early 2010s. This tracked strongly with the crap generation of players born from ~1990 to ~1994.

I need to go home and watch the whole game, but in the parts I saw the US was getting outplayed by France. But to hang in there and get the win definitely says something, especially when combined with other data points: these US players pass the eye test for club and country, and are (by US standards) on atypically strong trajectories for their clubs.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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From what I was able to see at work, France was on another level from the US in terms of technicality and combination play, and that resulted in a substantial possession deficit, surprising no-one.

The difference was in the counters. Fewer (not fewer enough, but fewer for sure) hit & hope balls over the top to chase, more counters based on smart on the ground passes and effective dribble moves.
 

Titans Bastard

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From what I was able to see at work, France was on another level from the US in terms of technicality and combination play, and that resulted in a substantial possession deficit, surprising no-one.

The difference was in the counters. Fewer (not fewer enough, but fewer for sure) hit & hope balls over the top to chase, more counters based on smart on the ground passes and effective dribble moves.
That was my impression from limited minutes. France looked like they'd win a clear majority if they played the US ten times. So from that perspective, it's not like this US team is the best U20 team of all time. However, being within striking range of a team like France if a few breaks go your way isn't something that is normal for us.

BTW, I don't know if France is missing any big guns at this tournament, but if we could get Adams in as the DM we'd be pretty epic, I think.
 

ninjacornelius

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I need to go home and watch the whole game, but in the parts I saw the US was getting outplayed by France.
Agreed on this point - the US played a really high line and it didn't take much for the French mids to break through. Possession was heavily weighted in France's favor, and their goals were simple counters that left the US flat-footed. The US was desperate for a holding mid, and Servania didn't really impress me on or off the ball. Grade out all players on both squads, and France would be comfortably ahead.

My comment was specific to the fact that the US was vicious in attack against a pair of very good CBs and a GK who may be the second-best young keeper in Europe (behind Donnarumma). The assists on the first two goals (one by Ledezma, one by Weah) absolutely eviscerated the French defense. Maybe the GK should have been able to avoid giving up the rebound that led to the third goal, but that strike from Dest was a fucking rocket. It's not that France made too many glaring mistakes - the US front line was just really, really good today.
 

Titans Bastard

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After today, I’m imagining the senior USMNT running a 4-3-3 with a very fluid midfield 3 of McKennie-Adams-Pomykal. Swoon.
Age 27, 27, and 26 when the 2026 World Cup rolls around.
 

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it left the curb and is careening down the hill, smashing vehicles of various nationalities on the way down.

This competition really does get pretty crazy though. Mali, one of the world's poorest countries, just beat Argentina in penalties. You've got a Japan - South Korea grudge match, and New Zealand taking Colombia to penalties (try to imagine that among the senior squads).

With 4 goals, Soto is now tied for 2nd in the competition... behind Erling Haland, the guy who put up 9 goals himself in a 12-0 thrashing of Honduras.
 

Titans Bastard

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MLS debut for Danny Leyva, the youngest player on the recent U17 qualification team (and one of its best prospects). He just turned 16 last month.
 

Titans Bastard

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USA vs. Ecuador in the U20 quarterfinal today at 11:30am ET.

To get here, Ecuador was the top finisher in CONMEBOL qualifying, which included wins over Paraguay, Argentina (x2), Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, a draw against Brazil, and two losses to Uruguay. In the WC, they finished third in their group after tying Japan, losing to Italy, and beating Mexico. They avenged their qualifying losses to Uruguay in the R16.

Ecuador has an extra day of rest since the R16. The US will get Alex Mendez and Chris Durkin back from yellow card suspension. I'm guessing that Mendez will start in place of Ledezma, who is not close to 90 minute fitness after missing most of the season. Mendez isn't exactly known for Hejdukian levels of fitness, so I think we'll see Ledezma come on for him later in the game.

I think Durkin will send Servania back to the bench, but we'll see.

Another big question: should Llanez start over the flashy-but-not-all-that-effective Konrad de la Fuente? There are also fitness questions there; Llanez just hasn't played much as he left LAG's academy a while ago but won't be eligible for Wolfsburg U19 games until the fall.

The last issue: Aboubacar Keita has had his moments, but has also played with fire at the time, but McKenzie hasn't been in top form or fitness either.
 

67YAZ

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USA vs. Ecuador in the U20 quarterfinal today at 11:30am ET.

To get here, Ecuador was the top finisher in CONMEBOL qualifying, which included wins over Paraguay, Argentina (x2), Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, a draw against Brazil, and two losses to Uruguay. In the WC, they finished third in their group after tying Japan, losing to Italy, and beating Mexico. They avenged their qualifying losses to Uruguay in the R16.

Ecuador has an extra day of rest since the R16. The US will get Alex Mendez and Chris Durkin back from yellow card suspension. I'm guessing that Mendez will start in place of Ledezma, who is not close to 90 minute fitness after missing most of the season. Mendez isn't exactly known for Hejdukian levels of fitness, so I think we'll see Ledezma come on for him later in the game.

I think Durkin will send Servania back to the bench, but we'll see.

Another big question: should Llanez start over the flashy-but-not-all-that-effective Konrad de la Fuente? There are also fitness questions there; Llanez just hasn't played much as he left LAG's academy a while ago but won't be eligible for Wolfsburg U19 games until the fall.

The last issue: Aboubacar Keita has had his moments, but has also played with fire at the time, but McKenzie hasn't been in top form or fitness either.
My biggest concern is that Tab will start 3 defensive mids again. As long as Pomykal gets the start in a central position, there will be someone who can actually link up play and provide some opportunities for the attack.

I'd stick with Ledezma for an hour. He was good against France, providing opportunities for the attack and solid positioning on defense.
 

Titans Bastard

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Even two DMs are a problem. Tab has started either Mendez or Ledezma in every game, so there's never been three, but when even two (Durkin+Servania) are on the field at the same time, the US has been all kinds of disjointed.

Meanwhile, if U20 teams were ranked using RPI, the US loss to Ukraine keeps "looking better". Ukraine advanced with a win over Colombia and will face Italy in the semifinal.
 

Titans Bastard

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Lineup vs Ecuador:


Weah — Soto — de la Fuente
Pomykal (c) — Mendez
Durkin
Gloster — Keita — Richards — Dest
Ochoa​

As expected, Durkin and Mendez return to the midfield. Keita retains his place at CB, which I think is defensible under the circumstances. The surprise is that Ochoa gets the nod at GK. He's only played against Qatar so far and I'm okay with this move because Brady Scott hasn't looked entirely confidence-inspiring.

In a perfect world I'd prefer Llanez over DLF, but I acknowledge that there are likely legitimate fitness concerns.
 

Titans Bastard

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It's all Ecuador so far. We are getting pinned back in our own half and are having trouble keeping possession.
 

Titans Bastard

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The US has settled now and is starting to see a little more of the ball. Weah and Mendez have had decent looks from distance, but no real danger yet.
 

Titans Bastard

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Keita's passing is a liability and Ecuador knows it. They are making sure the US has to funnel the ball to him, then pressing him.
 

Titans Bastard

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1-0 Ecuador on a blast from distance. Durkin sold out for a slide tackle early, recovered, but didn't pressure the guy on the ball, who proceeded to tee up.
 

DrewDawg

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Wait, they allowed it? How was that a goal? That dude was pretty clearly beyond the last defender.
 

Titans Bastard

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Wait, they allowed it? How was that a goal? That dude was pretty clearly beyond the last defender.
It's the right call. It doesn't matter that he was beyond the defender because he was behind the ball when it was played.
 

Titans Bastard

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Durkin+Mendez in the midfield is a very good combo when we control possession. It is a very bad combo when we do not.
 

Titans Bastard

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Llanez on for DLF at the half.

I've been largely disappointed with de la Fuente in this tournament. He is young and eligible for the next U20, so I guess we'll see if he can make strides.
 

dirtynine

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The announcers are mixed so low against the crowd noise it's almost like one of those experimental non-commentary telecasts.