Over the past three weeks, Shane O'Neill has played matches in United States, France, Portugal, and Turkey. But just days after he and the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team were eliminated from the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, O'Neill was back at Dick's Sporting Goods Park with his Rapids teammates itching to get back on the field.
The U.S. lost their final group match of the World Cup last Thursday against Ghana, in which O'Neill scored the U.S. side's only goal in the 4-1 loss. His return to Colorado on Saturday took nearly 20 hours after bad weather cancelled and delayed several flights.
"As a team it was really disappointing to lose the way we did, when we had the chance to go through, especially against Ghana. I think we thought it was going to be a winnable game in the group," O'Neill told ColoradoRapids.com. "But individually, obviously I was disappointed to be suspended against Spain, but I played in the final two matches and overall it was a great experience."
After sitting out the opener against Spain due to a carry-over red card picked up in the CONCACAF Championships in March, O'Neill started for the U.S. at center back in the 1-1 draw against France, which gave the team hope of advancing. In the final match of group play, the U.S. went down to Ghana 2-0 before O'Neill's goal got the team back into the game. However as the U.S. pushed for the equalizer, Ghana countered with two more goals to put the match away.
Despite the loss, the 19-year-old O'Neill gained invaluable experiences on the international stage.
"Playing against some of those top players, who are playing on top teams in Europe, it was great to be on the field with those guys and see what their standard is and to measure up against them," O'Neill said. "At the end of the day I came away thinking that I can play with these guys at that level, so in that regard it was a good experience."
In O'Neill's eight starts on the Rapids backline before departing for Turkey, the team posted an undefeated 4-0-4 record and surrendered six goals. In his absence, the Rapids have gone 1-3-0 while giving up 10 goals.
He knows he's one of many options coach Oscar Pareja and the coaching staff have to consider on the backline.
"It's going to be tough, but at the same time I'm coming back with a lot of confidence," O'Neill said. "I'm just looking forward to the next few weeks and hopefully finding my way back in the lineup."