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The High School All Americans will need to be more consistent if they want to defeat the Uruguay U19s in their rematch on Wednesday in Montevideo.
The team that went down to Los Teritos on Saturday was inexperienced – 13 were under 17 – and perhaps that showed.
“We managed the game well in the first 20 minutes,” said Head Coach Salty Thompson. But after going 2-0 against Chile, the HSAA players might have been feeling a little impatient when the Uruguay defense just wasn’t yielding. The Americans tried a little too hard.
“[We] hurt ourselves with forced offloads,” added Thompson. “[But] this is exactly the type of game experience our boys need. We found ourselves in a fast-paced, physical game against an organized, efficient, international team. We wasted opportunities [we needed] to win a close game.”
Still, of course, it wasn’t an implosion. Uruguay needed a second-half
penalty goal to win the game. Perhaps more than anything else, Uruguay just
did a good job of closing out the game.
No. 8 Tama Paogofie said the Uruguay team was small, but technically sound.
“They were effective in their tackling and running,” he said. “We were a lot stronger and more physical, but we lacked in knowledge and education in the game. Some of us have only played for a few years; they had a better understanding of the game.”
Los Teritos did very well in keeping their attacks going – regaining their feet if not held in the tackle, or releasing and regaining possession.
Now that the HSAA team knows what they are facing, Wednesday could be a different story.
“What they have in skill, we make up in strength,” said Paogofie. “We know what we need to do to be successful and we will seize the new day.”
Lock Joe Whalen agreed that the USA team played hard, but hard isn’t enough.
“All of us played our hearts out, but we were too frantic in many stages of the game,” said the Gonzaga HS player. “We were forcing offloads that didn’t need to happen; we had miscommunications in open play that led to many knock-ons, and there were too many penalties. I think if we had played a little bit smarter like in the second game against Chile, and kept it simple, we could have come away with a win.”
So lessons learned, and a two-point loss won’t be hard to overcome.