The United States under-20 national team finally got in the win column at the 2013 Toulon Tournament with a 1-0 victory over Congo. Tab Ramos' squad will finish its run at the annual showcase with a match against South Korea.
FT Congo DR U20 0 USA U20 1. Daniel Cuevas gets the late goal to give USA its first win in this Toulon tournament.— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) June 1, 2013
Early losses to host country France and Colombia doomed the Americans' chances of winning the event. Instead, they will attempt to play the role of spoiler as South Korea looks for a three-goal victory that would earn it a spot in the third-place playoff.
The entire tournament has been a good learning experience for the young group ahead of the under-20 World Cup, which starts later in the month. First, let's take a closer look at the United States' final match of the Toulon tourney.
What's your match prediction?
Where: Stade Louis Hon in Saint-Raphael, France
When: Wednesday, June 5 at 11 a.m. ET
Watch: beIN Sport
Live Stream: beIN Sport Play
After looking totally overmatched in a 4-1 loss to France, the United States has made noticeable progress over the next two matches. A five-minute stretch surrounding halftime cost the Americans at least a point against Colombia, and they earned the three points against Congo.
The biggest difference has been possession. The forward tandem of Alonso Hernandez and Daniel Cuevas, who scored the winner to knock off Congo, have been getting a lot more touches after being virtual non-factors in the opener.
Who's the most important player for the U.S. vs. South Korea?
Since the back lines at this type of event aren't nearly as consistent or reliable as the ones at higher levels, more possession is even more crucial. The United States quickly figured that out and have adapted nicely.
Looking toward the group finale, the squad must be prepared for an ultra aggressive approach from South Korea. The Taegeuk Warriors need a big victory to earn another match, and a loss means nothing, so they can afford to take some serious chances.
For the Americans, that means they should focus on the defensive third in the early portion of the match. Sit back and wait for South Korea to set up an aggressive line. If they can keep them off the scoreboard for the first 15 minutes, they should be in great shape.
It will become a counterattacking match from there. The United States can play off the aggressiveness to create chances at the other end and start playing the match at its pace. It all comes down to surviving that initial surge from the Koreans.
Ultimately, the United States has improved as the tournament has gone on. One more strong showing before the World Cup would do wonders for the squad's collective confidence. A draw against a desperate South Korea side would be a solid result.
United States 1, South Korea 1