U20 MNT fails to qualify for World Cup

U20 MNT fails to qualify for World Cup
April 7, 2011

Thomas Rongen’s U.S. U20 Men’s National Team, easy winners of both preliminary round games, fell at the final hurdle in their attempt to qualify for this summer’s FIFA World Cup, losing 2-1 in the CONCACAF U20 Championship quarterfinal Wednesday to host country Guatemala.

Observations

  • Uncharacteristic defensive lapses cost United States a trip to Colombia. This is a team I’d seen play three times in the last couple of weeks and they didn’t allow a single goal so it was very surprising to see them take a nap on the first half Guatemala corner that led to their opening goal. Plenty of players were in the area defending the corner, but the Guatemala goalscorer was completely unmarked for a short-range header to put his side up 1-0.
  • conor doyleConor Doyle
    Again, a defensive lapse would cost the United States on the second goal as Perry Kitchen, who failed to make an impact on the evening, got himself out of position failing to clear the initial ball and after Gale Agbossoumonde tripped, it was really a very simple chance for Henry Lopez of Guatemala to take back the lead. The fact that it came just after the USA equalizer just adds more insult to injury.
  • Bobby Wood was missed badly down the left. The glaring gap for the United States for most of the game was down the left side on offense as Gregory Garza, a solid starting left back in the first two matches, was pushed up to left mid to replace the injured Bobby Wood.  This simply didn’t present the danger going forward that Wood does (and may have been an issue with the defense as well). Moises Hernandez provided a lot of attacking play, especially towards the end of the game, but it just wasn’t enough and Guatemala was able to key in on stopping Joe Gyau.
  • A very up and down game for Kelyn Rowe. In the first 25 minutes or so, the UCLA product was all over the field. You felt it was just a matter of time before Rowe would grab a goal as his linking play with Gyau and Conor Doyle was causing all sorts of problems. Rowe would fail to capitalize in the first half, however, and he was nearly invisible in the second half.
  • Another great performance from Conor Doyle. It’s not hard at all to see why this kid is getting time in the English Championship. Give him some more time and I think he’ll certainly be someone who can contribute at the national team level as he provides fantastic link up play and has a better touch than some give him credit for. His control on the second half goal was fantastic as was his cool chip of the rushing Guatemala keeper.
  • Is it time to ask questions of Thomas Rongen? This is the first time since 1995 that the United States has not qualified for an U20 World Cup. Thomas Rongen took over the U20 National Team in 2006 and the team that included Josmer Altidore and Freddy Adu made a memorable run to the World Cup semifinal in 2007. But the 2009 team failed to make it out of its group at the World Cup in Egypt (dropping two games by 3-0 scorelines) and now this team has failed to even qualify (something the U.S. had done with every cycle in this century). In his defense, Rongen has done a fantastic job of scouting players from all over the world to bring in for a look, but all coaches at some level are judged by results on the field.
  • While youth national team play is not necessarily all about the results, it’s a big blow to the development of this extremely talented age group that they won’t be able to participate in something as significant as the U20 World Cup to get that valuable tournament experience. 
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