PUEBLA, Mexico – Tab Ramos says his US Under-20 side bears no responsibility for past failures in US youth ranks, and is ready to book its ticket to the World Cup in Turkey.
The US play their CONCACAF U-20 Championship quarterfinal against Canada on Tuesday night with the winner qualifying for the big event this summer (6 pm ET; Fox Soccer, sportsnet.ca in Canada, Univision Deportes).
“We’re going into the game with full confidence that this is a new team and that this team can get it done,” Ramos told reporters on Sunday. “I don’t feel like these players in particular need to feel all the responsibilities of some of the things that have gone wrong in the past.”
Two years ago, Guatemala put the US out at the quarterfinal stage with a 2-1 victory, and Ramos is making sure his players don’t lower their guard for a split second this time around.
“We just won two one-goal games to get to the next round and I don’t expect the next game to be different,” Ramos said. “These games are tough and I think once you lower your guard a little bit, you’re going to get hit and you’re going to get hit hard in this region.”
Last time the two teams met back in October, Canada took the game 2-1 in Spain, but Ramos believes the difficulty and intensity of the group-stage matches have put his team in good stead when it comes to the crunch game.
“I said it before the tournament started that the group would be difficult, but that it would really prepare us for that crossover game, and I think it has,” Ramos said.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.