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Two Criticisms of the U-20 World Cup

Now that the United States have been eliminated from the competition, let’s reflect back at what went wrong.

Soccer: International Friendly Men's Soccer-Venezuela at USA Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

By now you’ve probably heard that Venezuela’s U-20 National Team eliminated the United States just hours after the Senior teams met in a friendly. I was particularly crushed as I’ve been waking up at bizarre hours and sacrificing sleep and health to watch these games in the middle of the night since the tournament has been taking place in the Korean Republic. Just look at the hundreds of gifs I’ve been making instead of sleeping on my Twitter feed.

Even though the US were eliminated I have a couple criticisms of how it went down last night/this morning. Is Sunday Morning Quarterbacking a thing? Let’s get to it.

Uneven Rest for Both Countries

Whoever scheduled the round of 16 of the U-20 World Cup should be fired! The reason for that is because of the completely unfair rest that Venezuela received over the United States.

Venezuela played the very first round of 16 game of the tournament. They met and defeated Japan. The only saving grace is extra time was needed so Venezuela didn’t get as much rest as they could have if they would have put away one of their 17 shots before the 108th minute.

The United States on the other hand played the very last game of the round of 16 round against New Zealand on June 1st, a full two days after Venezuela’s game. The winner of these two games was scheduled to play one another before the games happened. There is no reason that both countries shouldn’t have played their round of 16 games on the same day.

In the end that gave Venezuela two extra days of rest over the United States. So when the US played their preferred starting eleven, they were tired because they were playing on just two days rest by June 3rd. Only Derrick Jones didn’t start the round of 16 game of the starters who started in the quarterfinal round.

Tab Ramos Misused his Substitutes

For all my complaining above about the US getting less rest and subsequently looking tired as the game went into extra time, head coach Tab Ramos didn’t seem to notice. Ramos had four subs available to him under a newer rule that gives teams an extra sub when a game goes into extra time. Here are when Ramos made his subs:

  • 51’ Tyler Adams OUT — Jeremey Ebobisse IN
  • 83’ Josh Sargent OUT — Lagos Kunga IN
  • 112’ Erik Williamson OUT — Emmanuel Sabbi IN
  • 120’ Danny Acosta OUT — Auston Trusty IN

First, some are criticizing Sargent coming out of the game. I’m fine with that move because Sargent, despite being the clubs leading scorer, was not the same after taking a boot to the head. A boot to the head that only drew a yellow card but probably should have been red. Let’s take a minute to look at that kick and you judge.

The real problem is that Ramos didn’t use his third or fourth subs until the second period of extra time and he didn’t use his fourth until the 120th minute. That’s the last minute of play!

It’s possible Ramos didn’t want to make a sub to start extra time because the US dominated the last few minutes of regular time. But when extra time started it was clear these kids were exhausted. Then when Venezuela scored in the 96th minute it was time for a change.

It looked to me that Ramos wasn’t even aware that he had a fourth substitution available to him until Venezuela made their fourth sub in an effort to waste time as Auston Trusty can be seen behind the Venezuelan sub scrambling to fill out his card to come into the game.

Ramos has been coaching the U-20’s for a while, meaning he has been around since the Jurgen Klinsmann era (speaking of Klinsmann, his son Jonathan was fantastic in net last night). A lot of people have called for Ramos to be fired even before this tourney began. I’m not saying he should be fired, but if US Soccer is going to get a new coach, now would be the time to do it since this World Cup cycle is over.

I actually had a dream last night that Ramos was fired. The dream gets a bit weird because US Soccer offered me the job coaching the #BabyNats. I can see why they would make that decision with all my coaching experience. I can see a direct translation between my one season coaching a coed team of U-5’s and coaching the U-20’s to the 2019 U-20 World Cup. Give my a call Sunil.