U20 Match Report v. Ecuador

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2023 World Cup
The United States U20 team earned a huge three points against their most difficult opponent, Ecuador, in the first game of the group stage. It was a back and forth game that ended in a 1-0 win off of a brilliant strike from Jonathan Gomez in the final minutes of stoppage time. The U.S. are now well setup to win their group.

Tactics and run of play

As expected, it was a 3-2-5 in possession with Wynder, Craig and Che along the backline. McGlynn and Vargas were the double pivot. The top line left to right: Wiley, Wolff, Luna (false 9), Sullivan and surprisingly, Jonathan Gomez on the right. Staring Luna as a false 9 and Gomez as a right wing-back was a very surprising deployment of personnel.

Defensively, Varas deployed a 5-2-3 / 5-3-2 depending on the situation. 5-2-3 when they were pressing high and 5-3-2 when they were sitting back a little bit.

With the ball, the U.S. looked a lot like they did in the qualifying tournament. They were committed to building from the back, retain possession and looked to disorganize through a high tempo passing system. When they were able to turn the ball over they were not hesitant to transition quickly. Defensively, it was mostly a high press and a determination to win the ball back quickly when they lost possession.

Overall I thought Varas did a great job changing up the shape and preventing too many counter attacking options for Ecuador. Most of Ecuador's danger came from Angulo, the Anderlecht winger, but Varas adjusted well in the second half and Angulo was much quieter. The United States controlled the midfield and became more dangerous when Darren Yapi subbed in for Quinn Sullivan in the 65th, pushing Diego Luna out wide. Yapi provided a steady target and he did a great job of holding up play and brining others into the attack. Luna was much more dangerous out wide. Daniel Edelman came on for Obed Vargas in the 71st minutes and Niko Tsakiris subbed on in stoppage time for Diego Luna.

The goal sequence started with a long goal kick from Gaga Slonina where the second ball was collected by Owen Wolff who pokd it over to Tsakiris, whose first touch of the game was played nicely into Yapi's feet. Yapi took a good first touch with the outside of his boot and slipped a pass out to Owen Wolff in the left flank. Wolff plays a beautiful switch to Gomez on the right flank. Gomez takes a perfect first touch off his chest coming on his left foot and bangs a shot that the keeper gets his fingers to, but it was too hot to keep from the back of the net. 1-0 USA — what a goal.

Top performers

Jonathan Gomez

It was a really tough assignment for Gomez. He was playing a position I am not sure he is ever played before and had the difficult assignment of slowing down Nilson Angulo who was Ecuador's most dangerous attacker. Gomez was clever in the build up and involved in the attack, though he did look uncomfortable in the final at times. In the end, it was his moment of magic that lifted the U.S. over Ecuador

Obed Vargas

Vargas was incredibly composed and precise throughout the game and he also had a potentially goal saving interruption, showing great awareness and positioning

Justin Che

Che was not without errors, but he made a lot of great individual defensive plays and also provided some impressive line breaking passes.

Diego Luna

Luna struggled a bit as a false nine, but he came to life when he was moved to the wing. He provided a great chance to Caleb Wiley and was dangerous when attacking one on one.

Darren Yapi

As mentioned above, Yapi showed good skill in hold up play and almost had a moment of brilliance when he cooked an Ecuadorian center-back with a step over move. Unfortunately his touch was just a little heavy.

Brandan Craig

Craig was beat once by Wonderkind Kendry Paez, but overall he was solid and physical defensively and he was as always, brilliant in distribution. He also took a vicious strike with his left foot that looked like it could have been on it's way to being golazo before being deflected by an Ecuadorian player.

Up next

The United States have to take advantage of this massive win by taking care of business against Fiji on Tuesday. Fiji is widely considered the weakest opponent in the group, so it's important that the U.S. win decisively to put themselves in a great position to win the group.

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