Can a team’s complexion completely change with the addition of one player? How about the influence of five players? Will it shift the dynamic of a squad?
For the U.S. U20 Men’s National Team, the hope is that the answer to one of those questions will be yes when the 2013 U20 World Cup kicks off on Friday.
The 19th installment of the global competition will take place in Turkey where the U.S. faces the daunting task of proving its worth against a group of soccer powers in Ghana, Spain, and France.
The lead-up to the event has been less than stellar for the Americans, as the U.S. was uninspired in its performance at the Toulon Tournament in late May/early June. The American squad ended the competition with one win and three losses.
Head coach Tab Ramos selected 16 of the players from the Toulon roster to carry over into the 21-man squad for the World Cup. Three of the five additions were MLS regulars, Seattle Sounders right back DeAndre Yedlin, Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil, and LA Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal, who all figure to start with the U20s now that they are available to Ramos and his staff. Mario Rodriguez, who showed well during qualifying, and Zackary Steffen, to fill out the third goalkeeper spot, were the other extras added to the fold for Turkey.
Will it be enough to help U.S. clean up its playing style and stay competitive against Spain in the World Cup opener?