U-20s: US close Toulon Tournament with another loss, raising questions ahead of U-20 World Cup
The US Under-20 national team finished its World Cup tune-up on Wednesday at the Toulon Tournament with a 1-0 loss to South Korea. Han Sung-Gyu notched the winning goal in the 62nd minute to hand the Americans their third loss in four games at the tournament. Colorado Rapids defender Shane O'Neill, who joined the team on Monday, went the full 90 at center back. His Rapids teammate, Dillon Serna, did not play after appearing in each of the first three games.
The tournament got off to a rocky start when the United States faced hosts France on May 28 with a 4-1 loss. Santos Laguna's Benji Joya provided the consolation goal for the Americans. They lost their second match on May 30 2-1 to Colombia, with North Carolina's Danny Garcia giving the US the early lead before Colombia came back.
The Americans got back on track this past Saturday with a 1-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo, with Santos Laguna's Daniel Cuevas notching the winner. But they couldn't get back to .500 in group play following Wednesday's loss to South Korea. Their 1-3-0 record put them fourth out of five teams in their group.
The performance of the US in the Toulon Tournament will raise questions concerning the team heading into the U-20 World Cup, which will begin June 21 in Turkey.
US head coach Tab Ramos (above) has not finalized his squad for the tournament, and the team will almost certainly see reinforcements brought in, including Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil, LA Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal, and Seattle Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin, none of whom participated in the Toulon Tournament. And given the overall strength of the participants in their group at Toulon, facing a tough test could make for good preparation at the World Cup.
Still, the US are facing arguably the toughest draw at the World Cup, where they will meet Spain, France and Ghana in the group stage. If anything, that group is tougher than the group they played at Toulon. Even with reinforcements to the roster and experienced gained in this tuneup, will the US be ready for the test ahead?
The clock is ticking, and Ramos and his staff only have a limited time to get the World Cup team ready.