KAYSERI, Turkey – Heading into a do-or-die clash with Ghana, US Under-20 national team boss Tab Ramos was not in the mood to tip his hand as to the makeup of his central defense in his team's crucial Group A closer on Thursday at the U-20 World Cup (1 pm ET, ESPNU).
Caleb Stanko, captain during the US' opening loss to Spain, was benched for Monday's game vs. France in favor of suspension returnee Shane O'Neill, who performed well in the 1-1 draw with the French that kept American hopes alive.
Though Ramos has not given a specific reason for replacing his captain, he hinted that the physical tools of Javan Torre were what kept him in the lineup against France. However, he also stated that Stanko could be in line for a recall against Ghana.
"Obviously, tomorrow the game's a little bit different – France is a team that's a lot more physical," Ramos told reporters at Wednesday's pregame press conference. "We'll have to prepare for this game a little bit differently, so sure, there's a possibility Caleb could play again tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Ramos was quick to defend Torre, who has taken plenty of heat after the first two tourney games. It was his controversial penalty kick foul that allowed France to open the scoring from the spot in Monday's draw.
"I haven't seen the game like some others have seen it," said Ramos, who offered his opinion in postgame comments that Torre's foul actually was committed just outside the box. "We all struggled at times, it wasn't just Javan."
Ramos has also been questioned by many observers for not bringing along standout center back Walker Zimmerman. However, the FC Dallas man was still recovering from a pesky groin injury when the roster deadline arrived a little over two weeks ago.