A young star breaks out
The youngest player on the roster was the most dynamic player in the United States' first game. There was no question coming into this tournament that Nimfa Berchimas was good, the question was how good. The answer? Well, it looks like we might have a star in the making.
I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I think it is safe to say that the United States outperformed their expected goal total. In tournament play, you need to be opportunistic. The United States has learned this the hard way from the senior boys down to the youth levels. Today, the U.S. capitalized on their opportunities.
I thought the press and counter press strategy was a risk given South Korea's technical ability and transition aptitude, but overall I think the press was effective and the collective was pretty disciplined and showed good instincts.
The United States did not rack up a ton of chances, but I thought their attacking sequences were pretty clean and effective when they were in transition.
The team last too many one on one defensive battles with the full-backs and midfielders of particularly concern. In the first half, the defensive shape was stretched too often and it left people in space and that is not a strength of this team. They'll need to be more disciplined against Burkina Faso and France.
Set Piece Defending
Not only did they give up a lot of set plays, but when they did, they were vulnerable. Too many balls found heads and too many loose balls were left in dangerous positions. That needs to be cleaned up.
Figueroa was quite effective when he did touch the ball. The problem is that he didn't touch it enough. He showed the ability to connect play and hold up play when the ball found his feet. In order for this team to meet it's full potential, Figueroa has to be more involved going forward.
Nimfa Berchimas (Man of the Match)
The two goals are what everyone will remember, but overall he was in control, tidy and dangerous. He did not look like the youngest player on the pitch by any stretch of the imagination. Berchimas is already making a name for himself at this tournament. The United States will need him to keep it up.
Banks was even better than I thought on re-watch. His bravery to force the opponent to challenge him as he takes space was key to the United States attacking success. He drew people to him and released the ball at the right time, to the right guy which disorganized South Korea's block. Defensively, he was everyone, interrupting many attacks. He had a few turnovers, but overall I appreciated his confidence.
His positioning, box control and distribution was solid. He did parry the ball right to South Korea on the goal concession, but overall he was solid under a lot of pressure.
Soma had his typical solid, yet under the radar outing. He was ball secure and effective with his pressing reads. I thought he struggled a little in some defensive one on one situations, but overall he was a settling force in midfield.
Medina has been struggling as of late, there is no way around it, but this was as good as I have seen him in a while. He was in the right spot for his goal and almost had another goal after timing his run well into the box. He wasn't overly influential, but I thought his pressing reads were fantastic and he did enough to help the team.
Game 2: Burkina Faso
The United States play their second game of the group stage at 4am ET on Wednesday, November 15th. Don't be fooled by Burkina Faso's 3-0 loss to France, from what I have read, they played France very well and it was a back and forth match. Burkina Faso will bring an aggressive and physical approach to the game which should give the United States some problems.
The United States defended much better when they asked their full-backs to be a little less aggressive in the attack. Given the lack of box to box midfielders, I think this is a tactic Gonzalo Segares needs to stick with. I'd move Oscar Verhoeven to right-back and bring in Tahir Reid-Brown to give Segares the best defensive combination possible at full-back. I'd also consider starting Stuart Hawkins over Tyler Hall. While Hall's speed would be useful against Burkina Faso, his passivity on the ball and lack of height were problematic against South Korea. I wouldn't make any changes to the front six.