5 Takeaways from U.S. U20 Win vs. Slovakia

5 Takeaways from U.S. U20 Win vs. Slovakia
by Victor Olorunfemi
May 27, 2023

With the win against Slovakia, this U.S. team became the first ever to win all three group games at the U20 World Cup, not to mention they did it all without conceding a goal. The Slovakian match also served as a coming-out party for Cade Cowell as the team put together its most complete performance yet. Here are five takeaways from the game. 

Fitting in Two New Additions  

While the additions of Kevin Paredes and Rokas Pukstas will boost the squad, you must feel for the position Mikey Varas finds himself in. Here you have a performance where the U.S. has won all three group games for the first time in its U20 World Cup history, yet he may have to make changes to incorporate the additions of two very talented players who haven’t been with the squad for the past few weeks. 

Cade Cowell's Potential is Off Charts  

It may not feel like it since he’s already played 92 MLS games, but Cowell is only 19 years old. Games like Slovakia, where he was a terror for their backline due to his one percentile combination of pace and power, explain why so many are high on the player he could develop into. The final product still needs a ton of work, but if that ever catches up, Cowell could develop into an un-droppable player for the senior national team. 

Brandan Craig's Transfer Value 

If you could track Craig’s transfer value through the tournament, it has to have more than doubled since the kickoff of the U20 World Cup. He’s been ever-present in a back line that has yet to concede a goal, and his passing arsenal might be the best of any player in Argentina. With the European transfer window around the corner, it will be interesting to see if Craig stays with the Philadelphia Union past this summer.  

Team Potentially Susceptible to High Press  

There haven’t been many concerning moments for the U.S. defensively, but there were signs they could be susceptible to a team that high presses. Slovakia had some luck with it early on but did not have the energy to maintain that intensity for prolonged periods in the South American heat. Whoever the Round-of-16 matchup will be could trouble the U.S. with a high press. 

U.S. Athleticism is a Big Difference Maker 

More and more, it’s becoming clear that the immense athleticism of the American team is a difference-maker. Between the likes of Cowell, Caleb Wiley, Johnathan Gomez, Obed Vargas, Justin Che, and Joshua Wyder, the U.S. has been the more athletic team in every game so far, which is saying a lot considering Ecuador and Slovakia are two of the more athletic teams from their continent. That combination of athleticism and elite technique has given the U.S. an edge so far and is something that could carry them far.

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