June 15, 2013
Ramos likes what he sees in U-20 WC warm-up
VILA REAL SANTO ANTONIO, Portugal -- In its final warm-up match for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, the United STates recorded a 3-1 win over Portugal on Friday.
Jose Villarreal, Shane O’Neill and Alonso Hernandez scored a goal for the Americans as goalkeeper Cody Cropper made eight saves at Municipal Stadium.
U.S. coach Tab Ramos, who played with the MetroStars from 1996-2002, liked what he saw of his team on Friday.
“Portugal is a very technical team and a very aggressive team," he said. "Physically they’re strong. They have all their players playing on big clubs. It was a difficult game. It’s never easy to beat a European team on their home soil, but we’re happy with the team. It’s a good win for us.”
The U.S. will play Spain in its tournament opener in Istanbul, Turkey on Friday, June 21
“Everybody knows over the past few weeks we’ve been mixing things and trying to get guys together and see what the best combinations are on the field. I think we’re finding that slowly. Today we played an excellent team and our team responded well, and we got a big win. I think this gives us momentum and some confidence going into the World Cup. We do realize that Spain is going to be another story, but we have a few days to prepare for that.”
O'Neill felt the win gave the U.S. much more confidence.
“I think coming away from this we know we can beat Spain, France or Ghana," he said. "We know after this game that beating a European team at their home is not an easy thing to do. We proved that we can compete with anybody in the tournament.”
The Americans capitalized on two set piece chances against Portugal. Villarreal scored directly off his free kick just outside the right side of the penalty area in the ninth minute for a 1-0 lead.
After Bruma tallied for Portugal in the 28th minute, O’Neill volleyed home the game-winning goal in the 51st minute off of Villarreal’s free kick from the right side.
Hernandez pushed the U.S. cushion to 3-1 in the 53rd minute as lapse by Portugal’s defense left a near wide-open net for Hernandez to aim at.
“This game was very important for us to get a feel for a European team," Villarreal said. "I wasn’t able to be in the Toulon Tournament, but being able to come play against Portugal, that’s a very similar team to Spain. So it was good to get that going. It was good to come out with the victory to give us some momentum going into the Spain game.”