Though US Under-20 national team boss Tab Ramos admits the team will be greatly tested by Spain's famous tiki-taka style in their FIFA U-20 World Cup opener, he says the plan is to take them onto the field at Istanbul's Ali Sami Yen Stadium looking for the upset.
Speaking on a conference call from Turkey on Tuesday, the coach stated that American fans familiar with the style of Spain's senior side – the reigning World Cup champions – will know what to expect from the junior version in Friday's Group A icebreaker.
“We’re very excited to be here competing in the World Cup," Ramos said. "We’re very excited that we’re in Group A with some of the best teams in the world and some legitimate contenders to win the World Cup. I think that’s a good thing for our players."
The U.S. kicks off the tournament on Friday against powerhouse Spain (12 pm MT, ESPN2/Univision Deportes).
"Spain happens to be the favorite to win the World Cup," Ramos, who played for the US in the 1983 edition of this tournament, told reporters. "The thing about Spain is they play the same way in all age groups. We just saw the U-21 team win the European Championships [in a 4-2 victory over Italy] a few hours ago, playing the same way as the first team."
"We've gotten to know this particular U-20 team in the way they play. It's something that is very difficult for us and something we're going to have to deal with."
The senior US side scored a famous 2-0 win over Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup, snapping La Furia Roja's 35-game unbeaten streak. While Ramos will be pointing to that upset during Thursday's pregame prep, it will be more for inspiration than for learning tactical lessons.
"It's a game we'd like to go back to," he declared. "We're probably going to show a little bit of that video to the players to make sure they remember. Our first team upset Spain four years ago, and there's no reason we can't do that same thing on Friday."
Ramos will have to do so without Colorado Rapids defender Shane O'Neill, who is suspended for the opener after receiving a red card in the CONCACAF Championships final against Mexico in March.
"The biggest issue we have at this point is that Shane O’Neill is out for the first game," Ramos said. "That’s something we’ve been trying to manage. We’ve decided to go with Eric Miller as sort of a backup center back as a third option for us in this game on Friday."