U20 Quarterfinal Match Preview
2023 World Cup
The United States will face South American power, Uruguay, in the quarterfinals of the U20 World Cup. Uruguay defeated The Gambia 1-0 off of a well struck left-foot from Anderson Duarte in a slog of a game that saw two red cards in the first half — one for each side. The United States will be looking to make it to a U20 World Cup semifinal for the first time since 1989.
The game is on Sunday, June 4th at 5pm EST and will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 2.
Uruguay have won three games and lost one so far in this tournament. They beat Iraq 4-0, Tunisia 1-0 and The Gambia 1-0. Their only loss came at the feet of England 3-2. The Uruguay placed second in the South American U20 Championship, losing 2-0 to Brazil in the final, their only loss in the tournament.
Uruguay will come into this match hampered by injuries and suspensions, specifically in attack. They will be without starting winger Matías Abaldo and center-forward Andrés Ferrari due to injury and key attacker Luciano Rodríguez who scored five goals and three assists in the South American Championship. Uruguay will be heavily reliant on their #10 Franco González to be the change generator.
Uruguay has a big and physical backline that will be difficult to breakdown. I thought their midfield was a bit sloppy and loose against The Gambia and struggled to penetrate the more dangerous areas of The Gambia's defense, even when up a man.
Uruguay consistently deploys a 4-2-3-1 and will look to play a very similar style as the United States, though given the personnel issues, they may look to concede possession a bit more and play a little more direct than they want to.
Uruguay typically like to press and counter-press aggressively and they also like to play through pressure and possess the ball. It will be a battle of similar styles when they face the United States.
The players that Uruguay will be able to deploy in attack against the United States were not aggressive in one on one situations out wide. They were more comfortable sending in crosses or getting to the end line and trying to find cutback zones.
What should the United States do?
I don't see any reason to change what Varas and the team has been doing and I think that the United States will have the opportunity to dictate play in this matchup. I think 3-4-3 / 3-5-2 has proven to be a great setup for the personnel that Varas has and I would expect that be what we see on Sunday.
I was not super impressed with Uruguay's backline's ball playing ability outside of their right-back, Mateo Ponte. I believe our press and counter-press could give Uruguay trouble and given how resolute their block looks, I think the press could be a lucrative means for chance creation.
Uruguay's backline is big and strong, so I don't think an offensive strategy that relies on crosses will reap a lot of benefits. I think the United States should rely on quickness, high tempo, one touch passing to off balance the Uruguay defense.
Defensively the United States needs to be positionally sound and not be wasteful in their own half when we gain possession. Uruguay likes to cross so we will need the big boys to mark well and win aerial duels consistently. I also think the midfield is going to have to be focused on sprinting back when in transition and not give up space in zone 14 from wide areas. Craig and Che will have to be aware when Wynder and the full-backs are pushed up high so that the channels are not too exposed.
I wouldn't make a ton of changes from the round of 16 win over New Zealand, but I do think a few would be useful. I'd like to see Varas be a bit aggressive and start Kevin Paredes over Owen Wolff because I think that the wingers are going to have to win some one on one battles on the outside. Cowell and Paredes should have a quickness advantage over both full-backs. I specifically thought Uruguay's left full-back was vulnerable.
I think Diego Luna is going to be the key to the attack. Uruguay did give up some space in zone 14 and I think Luna's quickness and creativity is the type of profile that could give their center-backs problems.
In the midfield I would start either Owen Wolff or Obed Vargas over Daniel Edelman. This is going to be a game that could be won in the midfield and I think clean and precise possession is going to be key. Both Vargas and Wolff provide more ball security and press resistance than Edelman.
The last change I would make is at right-back. I think Varas has been playing Jonathan Gomez at right-back to get his best eleven on the field, but it's a tough assignment for Gomez who is a left-footed player. If Varas starts Paredes as inverted winger on the right, I'd want Halliday to provide width. I'd ask Halliday to be conservative in getting up field and primarily be keyed on getting back in transition.
Uruguay is coming into this game beat up and tired with injuries and a physical game where they had to play with 10 men for over 45 minutes. They are also coming into this game on two fewer days rest. Considering that context and the fact that I think the United States looks like the better team based on who is available, I think the U.S. advances in a tough 1-0 game. The U.S. gets to the semifinals for the first time in 24 years.
U20 v. New Zeland Recap
Tactics and top performances from the United States' 4-0 victory over New Zealand.READ HERE