GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – The United States U-20 squad ran all over Suriname in their opening match of the CONCACAF Championship on Tuesday night, but head coach Thomas Rongen still feels like his team can improve going forward.
Sebastian Lletget, for example, found himself too deep, which also brought Conor Doyle too far back. The team let up for stretches of 10 minutes at a time. And Rongen’s charges could play forward more, instead of sideways or backwards.
"I think we will get better as the tournament goes on because our starting XI hadn't really played a minute together except for 45 minutes against FC Dallas," Rongen said after the team’s 4-0 win.
Perhaps the biggest positive of the night was the four at the top of the formation – Doyle, Bobby Wood, Joe Gyau and Kelyn Rowe – who worked especially well together, constantly switching positions.
"[We want] the front four continuously interchanging positions without losing that technical balance, and, most importantly, without losing the defensive balance," Rongen said.
The group accounted for all four of the United States' goals, with Gyau carrying the first half and Doyle physically imposing himself as the second half wore on. The communication between the foursome continues to be a work in progress, but they are developing quickly.
For Rongen, there's a balancing act between letting his talented team create and keeping them reigned in.
"We want to go to the World Cup so you have to be a little bit rigid, but sometimes you have to let them figure it out," he said.
Will the troops learn? The victory will certainly help.
"It's a little bit easier to reach them after a result like this," Rongen said.
Noah Davis covers the United States national team for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @noahedavis.