• Sáb. Jul 13th, 2024

-> Noticias de futbol internacional

Stock up or stock down? How each U.S. player fared at the U-20 World Cup

Stock up or stock down? How each U.S. player fared at the U-20 World Cup


A loss to Ecuador in the quarterfinals brought the United States’ up-and-down run in the tournament to a close on Saturday, sending all 21 players back to their respective club teams to continue their development. Which players were helped the most by the tournament experience, and which ones showed that they still had plenty to work on? The Athletic’s Joseph Lowery and Adam Snavely watched every minute of the run, and offer their thoughts on whether that player’s stock is up, down, or unchanged after five games in Poland.

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Goalkeepers

Brady Scott

Lowery: Stock down. Scott entered the tournament as Tab Ramos’ first-choice goalkeeper, but lost his starting spot to Ochoa after a rocky performance in the round of 16 against France. France exposed one of the biggest weaknesses in Scott’s game: His lack of fundamental positioning.

Snavely: Stock down, slightly. He was mostly fine, although his timidity didn’t help the U.S. cause, and I never saw him in a situation where he was clearly outplaying his opposite number.

David Ochoa

Snavely: Stock unchanged. He mostly stayed the same for me. Ochoa started against Qatar, where he made a couple vital saves to help the U.S. out of the group stage. Against Ecuador he wasn’t so fortunate. Did you see Ochoa or Scott as the No. 1 heading into this tournament? I feel like unless Scott was the starter in your eyes, Ochoa’s stock stayed put.

Lowery: Scott was first choice for World Cup qualifying, and because of Ramos’ tendency to stick with “his guys”, I do think Scott was the first-choice goalkeeper heading in. That makes it impressive to me that Ochoa started the quarterfinal against Ecuador.

CJ Dos Santos

Lowery: Stock unchanged. It wasn’t a surprise to see Dos Santos on the bench throughout the World Cup. If Jason Kreis wants to get a look at him, Dos Santos could play a part for the Olympic team at some point in the future.

Snavely: Stock unchanged. It seems a little unfair to draw too many conclusions from him not playing this World Cup. Also, in the name of fairness, here’s a highlight video of himself he posted two days after the World Cup run ended with the hashtag “#IKnowMyWorth,” which seems pointed.

Defenders

Sergino Dest

Lowery: Stock unchanged. Dest was heralded as the United States’ next right back before the World Cup, and he still deserves that title. After his defensive lapse opened a lane for Ukraine to take a 1-0 lead in group stage, Dest took his game to the next level during the U.S.’s two knockout round games against France and Ecuador. It shouldn’t be long until we see Dest break into the senior national team and start competing for first-team minutes at Ajax.

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Snavely: Stock unchanged. He wasn’t perfect in defense, but was a threat going forward to help cover some of his missteps and unbalance opposing defenses, and improved as the tournament went on. His defensive IQ needs to improve, but I’m still taking the upside on Dest.

Chris Gloster

Lowery: Stock up. Gloster was one of the two players who impressed me most. He consistently performed well on both sides of the ball from the left back spot. Even with George Bello and Kobe Hernandez-Foster competing with him to be America’s Top Left Back Prospect (producers: call me and we can get this show on television ASAP), Gloster is the left back closest to being ready for the senior team.

Snavely: Stock up. In 2017, I viewed left back as a particular position of weakness for the U.S. U-17s, which primarily meant I wasn’t impressed with Gloster. What a difference two years makes. Gloster repeatedly made big plays in defense and had a big role in one of the prettiest goals the U.S. scored this World Cup:

Matthew Real

Lowery: Stock down. It seems harsh to give Real a “Stock down”, but the fact is: He lost the starting left back competition to Gloster. I think his skill set is slightly better suited to play center back, so I’m hoping the Union to switch Real to a more central position soon. Snavely, do you think Real would benefit from a position switch or would that change not move the needle on his professional and national team future?

Snavely: Stock unchanged. I think Real projects more as a center back, but if he wants to have a long pro career, the flexibility to play both center back and outside back will be useful to him. I still don’t think that changes his outlook for the national team (namely, I seriously doubt he’ll be in it). He’s got the ability to be a useful pro, most likely remaining in MLS, but don’t know how much higher he can climb than that.

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Julian Araujo

Lowery: Stock unchanged. Araujo was called in late to the squad as an injury replacement for Ayo Akinola, but never saw the field in Poland.

Snavely: Stock unchanged. He really should’ve seen the field. Instead, Ramos played Mark McKenzie at right back to near-disastrous results.

Chris Richards

Lowery: Stock soaring. He anchored the United States’ back four during all five of their games, displayed some incredible defensive positioning, passed between opposing lines and read both sides of the game to near perfection. He is the most promising center back prospect that has come through the American pipeline in quite some time.

Snavely: Stock up. The U-20s’ best player played like their best player throughout the tournament. He’s strong, quick-thinking, and excellent in possession. For the sake of the senior team, let’s hope he keeps it that way.

Aboubacar Keita

Lowery: Stock unchanged. He came into the World Cup as a raw center back prospect and he’s leaving the World Cup as a raw center back prospect. Snavely, did you think it was Keita’s fault that France’s Moussa Diaby dunked on the U.S. a couple of times in their knockout round game, or was that more of a systemic defensive issue?

Snavely: Stock up. Diaby dunked on the U.S. because Diaby was always going to dunk on whoever he faced. Servania getting caught out of position left Keita out to dry, though, and Keita wasn’t nearly quick enough or had good enough positioning to deal with Diaby’s speed (or France’s speed in general) when he was forced to challenge him. I only saw him as a back-up before this, and overall I thought he managed to acquit himself well, even if he’s not a can’t-miss prospect.

Mark McKenzie

Lowery: Stock unchanged. We learned one thing about McKenzie during the World Cup: He is not a right back. McKenzie did play a few minutes at center back in a couple of substitute appearances, but he should be grateful to get fully fit and head back to Philadelphia where he can play in central defense full-time.

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Snavely: Stock down. He needs minutes with his club. The strong, assured defending and passing we saw from McKenzie in qualifying was gone, and it seemed like he was playing with a sign on his back that read “run at me; I will give up a foul from a dangerous spot.” I believe in McKenzie’s talent, because he’s proven he can do things like this:

But he has to play for his club. Joe, is Jack Elliott’s dominance over the center back spot for the Union just a product of McKenzie’s fitness struggles? Or is he falling behind? Because I’m afraid it’s the latter.

Lowery: I still believe McKenzie’s lack of minutes in Philadelphia boils down to his fitness issues. Elliott is a very capable center back, but McKenzie is undeniably more talented. Plus, the Union have incentive to develop him and to one day sell him for a sizeable fee.

Midfielders

Edwin Cerrillo

Lowery: Stock unchanged. Cerrillo’s lack of playing time in Poland was puzzling. He was the most in-form defensive midfielder on the United States’ roster going in, but evidently that didn’t matter because Ramos left him out of the lineup for every single match. It’s a shame; he would have been the perfect player to anchor the American midfield against Ecuador’s skilled and speedy attack in the quarterfinal.

Snavely: Stock up. Here’s a question for you Joe: can a player’s stock rise simply by virtue of fortunes falling in those around him? It’s hard to say a player’s stock has risen after he didn’t play in the tournament at all, but it’s also impossible to feel like Cerrillo’s stock hasn’t improved, given the play of the holding midfielders in front of him.

Lowery: I think it’s fair to say that the idea of Cerrillo playing for the U-20s grew more and more appealing as the World Cup went on, but it’s hard for me to raise (or lower) his stock without seeing him actually get the chance to impact games. I absolutely understand your thought process, though.

Snavely: Just let me dream, Joe.

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Chris Durkin

Lowery: Stock down. There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Durkin did not have a good showing. While Ramos’ 4-3-3 shape did not put him in a great position to succeed, Durkin struggled mightily to cut out opposing counter attacks and shield the backline.

Snavely: Stock down. The U.S. played best with only one true defensive midfielder. Tab wanted Durkin to be that defensive midfielder. Durkin is not that defensive midfielder. He is, nominally, a deep-lying passer, a la Wil Trapp, and he played much like Wil Trapp has been playing for the senior team lately: incapable defensively without nearly enough value in his passing to make up for it. In short, he just wasn’t good enough.

Brandon Servania

Lowery: Stock up. While Servania has some limitations, he proved that he can impact a game from almost anywhere in central midfield. He scored the United States’ first goal of the tournament by pushing forward into the attack against Ukraine and covered lots of ground deeper in midfield against France. Servania looks ready to compete for minutes in FC Dallas’ crowded central midfield. Adam, if he can break through at some point this season, what do you think Servania’s best position would be in Luchi Gonzales’s midfield?

Snavely: Stock unchanged. That’s actually a really interesting question, considering he’s teammates with Cerillo and Pomykal. Servania was not very good as a hybrid No. 6/No. 8 next to Durkin in the midfield. I think his best position is as a holding midfielder, I just don’t know if he’s better than Cerillo. If he gets minutes, I think Servania has the capability to be a good MLS player that, under the right circumstances, might play himself into the national team picture one day.

Paxton Pomykal

Lowery: Stock up. Pomykal is the very definition of a modern central midfielder. With his well-rounded skill set, there is no player on this roster, outside of maybe Tim Weah, who is better prepared to make an impact for the senior team in the very near future.

Snavely: Stock up. We knew Pomykal was good before this tournament, but I don’t think we fully appreciated just how good he was. His defensive tracking and pressing enabled the U.S. to play the way they wanted to play. His ingenuity in moving into space and passing made other teams have to focus on him, giving space to his other midfielders.

Paxton Pomykal was the most important player on this team. Without him, the U.S. midfield would have collapsed far earlier than it did.

Alex Mendez

Lowery: Stock down. Opposing midfielders consistently beat Mendez to 50/50 balls and teams counterattacked into the space he left behind in midfield. Because he is one of the most skilled players in the current U-20 pool and in Freiburg’s youth system, Mendez doesn’t have to turn into a Tyler Adams-style ball-winner, but until he even slightly improves his defensive work rate, it is going to be difficult for him to get USMNT or Bundesliga minutes.

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Snavely: Stock down This one was tough. Mendez remains one of maybe two attacking players on this roster who can produce special plays at any given moment. He showed it off on a few occasions this World Cup. This sequence, in which he snatches a man’s soul from his chest before eviscerating a defense with one pass, shows just what Mendez can do.

But it was also Mendez’s wastefulness in possession and atrocious defense that played such a major part in the U.S. loss to Ecuador.

Richard Ledezma

Lowery: Stock up. Even though he was recovering from an injury and could only play limited minutes, Ledezma was a true creative spark for the United States. A healthy Ledezma will be a force to be reckoned with in the Eredivisie next season.

Snavely: Stock up. His injuries in the run-up to the World Cup left most wondering how much he would actually play, given his fitness. He got his chance against Qatar, then proved his worth against France.

He was the right combination of vision on the ball and workrate in defense. Hindsight being 20/20, he should’ve started against Ecuador.

Forwards

Konrad de la Fuente

Lowery: Stock unchanged. The fact that De la Fuente, who is playing up a cycle, earned enough of Ramos’ trust to consistently start on the right wing was impressive. That said, the majority of De la Fuente’s performances in Poland were only so-so. He has great skill on the ball and the necessary close control to combine in tight areas but lacks speed to create space out wide against a positionally disciplined defender.

Snavely: Stock unchanged. As he continues to develop physically, his game will become more and more effective with it. I still have high hopes for him. And he got the team to put his first name on the back of his shirt, which rules no matter what you say.

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Tim Weah

Lowery: Stock unchanged. At the beginning of the group stage, Weah had several Kobe Bryant-esque moments of poor shot selection, but as the tournament wore on he became one of the United States’ more indispensable players. That’s Weah in a nutshell. He will frustrate you with a selfish play or a poor first touch in one moment and wow you with a clever outside-of-the-right-foot pass or his ability to tuck inside into midfield in the next. I’ll ask you this, Adam: should Weah have been on the Gold Cup roster instead if the U-20 World Cup roster?

Uly Llanez

Lowery: Stock up. Llanez has something that so few other American wingers have: the ability to dribble at and beat a defender. Like Ochoa, Araujo and De la Fuente, Llanez is age-eligible for the next U-20 cycle. However, it is very possible that in two years, Llanez will be unavailable for the next U-20 World Cup because he is pushing for a place on the senior national team.

Snavely: Stock up. The U.S. always became more dangerous when he was subbed in, but he still needs to work on his decision-making in the attacking third. If Wolfsburg can iron those things out, Llanez has what it takes to be a starting winger for the U.S.

Justin Rennicks

Lowery: Stock unchanged. Rennicks is not a prolific goal scorer or a technically-gifted attacker, but he is a great pest. His ability to come off the bench and use his fresh legs to find space between defensive lines, make off-ball runs to distract defenders and press opposing back lines was an asset to the U.S. U-20s and will be an asset for Bruce Arena’s New England Revolution.

Snavely: Stock unchanged. Rennicks didn’t do anything that either really delighted me or made me upset. There’s something to be said for a person doing the thing he’s supposed to be doing, so sure, Rennicks fulfilled expectations, and possibly exceeded them in some eyes. Other than that, not much else to say here.

Sebastian Soto

Lowery: Stock up. Soto’s composure in front of goal and his movement in and around the box made him a reliable, productive attacking outlet. Goal-scorers are rare, but it looks like the U.S. have one in Soto.

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Snavely: Stock up. A missed golden opportunity against Ecuador notwithstanding, Soto had a great tournament. The one true center forward on this U.S. side, Soto showed the movement, workrate, and finishing ability necessary for the modern game. If the whispers are true, and someone like Dortmund do indeed swoop in to spirit Soto away from Hannover (and provided he gets minutes), he has the potential to develop into a very good forward in Europe, and a very good forward in Europe is more than enough to help the USMNT.

(Photo by Tomasz Zasinski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)