KAYSERI, Turkey – Fresh off a rough 4-1 loss to Ghana that ended their U-20 World Cup odyssey, US boss Tab Ramos conceded that teamwork breakdowns all over the field spelled the Americans' tourney demise.
The US needed a win to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage for the first time since 2007, but their most disjointed effort in Group A play left them well short of that goal.
Thursday's loss featured a laundry list of mistakes from back to front, including a gaffe by netminder Cody Cropper, defensive confusion and a large number of mis-hit passes. Combined, they spelled emphatic doom for the US.
"I'm disappointed with the result, certainly, and I'm disappointed that we gave up nine goals in three games – you certainly can't move on in a World Cup giving up nine goals in three games," Ramos stated in the postgame press conference. "Overall, we came here to compete. The unfortunate part is that the results in two of the three games don't show it.
"It was a very difficult match for us. It was a game where we needed goals and we tried to go forward as much as we could. In the end, it became a transition game and we took goals at the wrong time, even when we got back into the game in the second half at 2-1."
When the United States had the ball, things weren't any better. The passing game was overtly sloppy; even many of the easiest short passes failed to find the target.
"I thought we didn't connect passes well to keep the ball," Ramos continued. "In the first half we tried to play out of the back, but every time the ball came to a forward, we turned it over and that hurt us. This team was put together to get forward and play in the other team's half, but we couldn't get out of our half for periods of time and that hurt us."
When they did manage to work their way up the field, the team often lingered on the ball, unable to make offensive decisions in a timely manner.
"This is something we tried to talk to the players about for the last couple of weeks," said the coach. "When we get in front of the goal we don't shoot as much.
"We're always looking to make the extra pass and I think the teams that are doing well are the teams that get in front of goal and take advantage of their opportunities. We attacked enough to get goals and yet we didn't get them."
It also didn't help that their most dynamic player through two games, Seattle Sounders right back DeAndre Yedlin, was forced off with a knock shortly after halftime. Not only did they lose his considerable skills on the ball, but Ramos had to change his substitution strategy with the team still only trailing 1-0.
"DeAndre had an injury to his shoulder with about five minutes left in the [first] half," he reported. "At that point, we thought of possibly taking Oscar [Sorto] out of the game to bring in a forward, but we had to leave them both in to see if he could continue or not because we didn't want to lose both of our right backs."
In his final analysis, Ramos told reporters he had no problem with the squad's level of effort against Ghana – even if some observers felt otherwise.
"We knew we were in a group with three very good teams," concluded Ramos. "I think we competed, but it just wasn't enough."