The United States are still in with a chance to qualify for the knockout round of the Under-20 World Cup, thanks to Daniel Cuevas' late equalizer in a 1-1 draw with France. No matter what happens between Spain and Ghana in the late game on Monday, the U.S. will not be eliminated from the competition.
Tab Ramos put out a more defensively-minded team than he did against Spain. Instead of playing a very attacking 4-3-3, the U.S. set up in a formation that looked more like a 4-4-1-1, with Benji Joya playing just as deep as Will Trapp without the ball and the wide players operating more conservatively.
The sides went into halftime locked up at 0-0, which was a fair reflection of play. France had more possession and played the much better football, but failed to generate clear chances. Unfortunately for the United States, their clean sheet evaporated less than two minutes into the second half. Dimitri Foulquier was fouled on the edge of the penalty area by Javan Torre just 50 seconds into the half and Yaya Sanogo stepped up to convert the penalty.
The U.S. won a penalty of their own in the 64th minute when Mario Rodriguez was taken down in the box. Unfortunately, Luis Gil took the spot kick poorly, hitting it nowhere near the corner and with minimal power, making a save easy for Alphonse Areola.
Gil was part of the setup for the eventual equalizer, though Ramos probably deserves the assist for drawing up the set play. On a free kick from just outside the box, Gil looked to be lining up a shot but instead played a low pass into the box. After a bit of a scramble, Cuevas emerged with an opportunity to shoot and buried his chance to secure a point.
- Luis Gil was the United States' best player again. He didn't look overmatched by Paul Pogba and Geoffrey Kondogbia at all. That's saying a lot.
- Despite the penalty he conceded, this was a much better performance from Javan Torre. I'd rather see Caleb Stanko getting this time, but he didn't look completely out of his depth in this match like he did against Spain.
- Yes, it looked like the foul might have been a bit outside of the box, but it was right on the line. In any event, it was a very hard call for the ref to make and a very bad foul by Torre.
- Cody Cropper got his hands on the penalty -- which wasn't terrific -- and absolutely should have saved it.
- Benji Joya was better in this game than he was against Spain. Dude is a crazy workhorse and it's impressive how he keeps up the tempo he plays at for a full game.
- Alonso Hernandez had another poor game and was straight up yanked at halftime. He hasn't shown any of the promise that had him so highly touted before he joined the U20s this summer. Obviously he's very talented, but his play in this tournament and the Toulon Tournament has been discouraging.
- DeAndre Yedlin is the most naturally talented fullback the U.S. has had in my lifetime, but his decision-making going forward is not as good as it should be. The way he times and makes runs is unbelievable, but his decisions on the ball were dreadful.
- Daniel Cuevas should be starting. He's awesome.
- Shane O'Neill is really good and we probably would have fared better against Spain with him in the team. He was a rock against France. He's incredibly polished for his age.
- I didn't like the team's approach to this game and I still don't think youth tournaments should be about results. The U.S. played poorly for most of this game. They were worse than they were against Spain, for the most part, but they played for a draw and got it. I hope we see something a bit more ambitious against Ghana.