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US Managed Draw Versus Conceited France

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U.S. under 20 team takes a knee before kickoff against France in Turkey for FIFA U20 World Cup. (Photo by Marco Fumagalli)
U.S. under 20 team takes a knee before kickoff against France in Turkey for FIFA U20 World Cup. (Photo by Marco Fumagalli)

Deserved tie for the US against a cocky France in the second match of the group phase of the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup in Turkey.

It was another hot day today (24 June) in Istanbul and playing at 18:00 was not favoring the US, however Tab Ramos’ boys never gave up and managed to pull a tie in the last minutes of a game they couldn’t lose.

Usual 4-2-3-1 formation for France again with Areola in the goal, Lucas Digne on the left back, Pogba in front of the defense with Lemina who strangely started instead of Veretout this time; Sanogo only forward, supported by Thauvin and Bahebeck on the wings and Kondogbia in a trequartista position which doesn’t belong to him and does not let him express his best potential. Once again Ngando started on the bench. Same tactic also for the “bleus”, waiting for the opponent in their own half and trying to hit with fast breaks.

The US started this time with a more prudent 4-2-3-1 which however was very flexible and quickly turning into a 4-3-3 when in ball possession. Cropper in the goal, Trapp and Joya in front of the defense, Hernandez as a striker supported by Gil right behind him while Rodriguez and Villarreal took care of the wings.

The match started with the US pressing high again but never able to place the forwards in a position dangerous enough to scare France’s goalkeeper Areola for the entire first half except the last two minutes when two clear occasions got wasted. The French were dangerous three times during the first 45 minutes: at minute 16 a right shot by Sanogo from inside the box found Cropper very attentive, a left shot from outside the box of Thauvin ended out by a few inches while in the last seconds of the half France missed a 1vs1 occasion where Cropper was once again outstanding.

The second half began with a personal play by France right defender Foulquier which ended with a questionable penalty which Sanogo assured and gave the 1-0 advantage to the bleus. France coach Mankowski finally let Ngando in and the game turned; the young French in the trequartista position was organizing every play for the bleus and delivering assists to the forwards that could just not find the net and even hit the bar at minute 66.

The US did not give up, remained calm and slowly gained field and started closing down France lower and lower; the patience paid as the US were awarded a penalty kick on minute 65 which Gil, who was having a good game until then, missed. Cuevas came in for a faded Villarreal and after a carom in France box at minute 85 was able to make the correct tap in that tied the game.

The impression is that France felt superior the entire game and gave the score for granted knowing that the US are lacking killer strikers; their overconfidence cost them at the end as the Americans unlike Ghana played the entire match with the same intensity which allowed them to come back in the last minutes.

It seems that France coach Mankowski has a very talented team in his hands but perhaps the Federation is imposing a 4-2-3-1 which is not fitting with these players. Starting the game with Veretout and Ngando on the bench is a crime to football. France faces Spain next, who’s already qualified for the knockout stage; a loss would not guarantee them the second place and will have to play to take at least a tie.

The US as predicted took a point against France and now have to defeat Ghana to pass as second or one of the best third placed teams of the groups. Once again Cropper was crucial in not letting the opponents score in many occasions; Trapp held the midfield on his own and also missed rarely a pass.
Coach Ramos is probably hoping that his forwards step up to the level expected for this competition, same as Joya who hasn’t showed much yet.

The last thought is about Luis Gil: this boy has got talent! I urge him to move over to Europe to play in a top league in order to turn into a top class player.