U-23 Player Rankings – United States vs. Turkey

U-23 Player Rankings – United States vs. Turkey

Overall match thoughts:

Fielding far from its best under-23 squad, the United States nevertheless impressed in the first round of the Toulon invitational against Turkey. Especially if you don’t consider the dreadful first half.

Overall, the match was played at a high level for this age group, with great amounts of individual skill on the ball from both sides. Turkey, fielding its first-choice lineup, ran the U.S. ragged for long stretches with clever runs and lethal finishing. However, some prescient substitutions at halftime allowed the Americans to score twice in the second half to make a game of it, before eventually falling 3-2.

With Peter Nowak pacing the sidelines, the prize for the players is a chance to represent the United States in the Beijing Olympics. Some seized the opportunity, some didn’t:

Starting Eleven

Dominic Cervi: 5
The lanky keeper certainly had his hands full. Cervi looked a lot sharper after his first half blunder, when a bobble nearly led to a Turkish goal. He was also caught in no man’s land on the third Turkish goal. However, he showed great shot-stopping ability, especially when snaring a Parlak shot in the first half.

Blake Wagner: 3
Wagner had his issues today at left back. With the Turks flowing freely up the wings, the FC Dallas player often found himself in difficult positions and failed to win the ball. He came off at halftime for Tony Beltran, who gave Nowak a more attacking option.

Eric Brunner: 4
Brunner looked overmatched at times against the Turkey’s speedy attacking force, losing his mark on the Turks first goal. He also failed to take command on the third Turkish goal. However, he showed great composure in his opponent’s penalty box, notching the second goal for the Americans on a volley.

Julian Valentin: 5
I wasn’t able to locate any personal mistakes by Valentin, but he was part of a backline that allowed three goals. As such, he’ll take part of the blame.

Jonathon Leathers: 4
Mark Leathers down as another player who had trouble dealing with the pace and skill of the Turkish side. Although he did look a bit out of his league at marking back, the Kansas City rookie did his best to make up for it with his grit and determination. He looked much better at left back in the second half, when the U.S. held possession better and the Turkish attack slowed.

Greg Dalby: 5
The captain of the American team in the 2005 U-20 World Championship, Dalby threw himself about the field in an effort to disrupt the Turkish flow. He did the best he could, especially in the second half.

Corey Ashe: 4
He was certainly on the field all day, but Ashe didn’t do too much to merit inclusion in the Olympic squad.

Benny Feilhaber: 3
What has happened to Benny Feilhaber? After failing to see time for a dreadful Derby County squad in 2008, Feilhaber was all but invisible in the first half. With the United States doing all it could to keep the ball in the face of a weathering Turkish onslaught, Feilhaber was nowhere to be seen. Feilhaber was a disaster against Turkey until coming off with an apparent injury.

Lee Nguyen: 3
Nguyen transferred away from PSV Eindhoven for small Danish club Randers FC in January. Although he’s gotten some first team looks, a Danish journalist friend of mine says it’s not based on his performance, but rather a lack of options for the Randers coach Colin Todd. Either way, Nguyen did little to change those opinions today and was subbed off at halftime.

Sammy Ochoa: 5
Ochoa’s well-taken goal late in the second half drew oohs and ahhs from the French crowd. Last seen playing alongside Chad Barrett in the 2005 U-20 World Championships, Ochoa showed he has continued to improve over the past three years. However, he completely flubbed a gilt-edged opportunity early one, when his team was struggling. With a lack of attacking options, he might find his way onto the Olympic squad anyway.

Gabe Ferrari: 4
Perhaps a victim of the team’s poor midfield play, Ferrari didn’t really get a chance to stretch his legs today. However, he did show his eagerness to contribute.


Kamani Hill: 7

The man of the match despite playing for a mere half-hour, Hill’s introduction in the midfield led to extended spells of possession, something the Americans couldn’t find in the first half. We’ve seen Hill playing marking back in Olympic qualifying and he grew up a striker. That kind of versatility should earn him a spot in Beijing.

Tony Beltran: 5
Beltran got turned around a couple times by his opponent, but didn’t allow any goals in the second half. In all, Beltran turned in a solid performance in one half of work.

Brek Shea: 5
In his most critical moment, the 18-year old Shea did all the hard work to control a long ball and split the Turkish center backs. However, he allowed the slightest of tugs on his arm to throw him off-balance, and what would have been the tying goal floated harmlessly wide. He’ll learn to be stronger on the ball.

Andrew Winner is a freelance soccer writer based in Seattle, Washington. He can be reached at: andrewwinner@gmail.com