The USA U20 team’s return to action after nearly 21 months of inaction was a rough one, as the initial squad from new head coach Mikey Varas was thoroughly beaten by a quality collection of Brazilian youth talents, by a 4-0 margin.
The squad that Varas assembled for the first edition of the so-called Revelations Cup in Celaya, Mexico had little time to gather and prepare for Wednesday’s late-afternoon kickoff in the Estadio Miguel Alemán Valdés. Therefore, it could be forgiven that they largely fell flat in a four-goal loss to the Brazilians.
The tournament is serving as a first gathering of players who are contending for places in next summer’s 2022 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, which will serve as the qualifying run for both the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia and the 2024 Olympic games.
The mostly MLS-based roster featured a tiny handful current or impending YAs; Dante Sealy, who has been impressing with the PSV Eindhoven youth team joined recent USA-commit and Union Berlin youth teamer Malick Sanogo as attacking options available to Varas, along with Caden Clark, who has already signed with RB Leipzig, although has continued with the organization’s New York affiliate as a loan player. Additionally, Fulham youth keeper Alexander Borto rounded out the small collection of American players on the roster plying their trade abroad.
While only two of these players – Sealy and Clark – were in the starting eleven on Wednesday, the lineup did feature a number of players with significant first-team experience in MLS. Most notably, 17 year-old starting keeper Gabriel Slonina has claimed the starting role for Chicago fire in the final ten games of their regular season, Cade Cowell has been a regular for San Jose for the last two seasons, Paxten Aaronson, younger brother of USA international Brendan, played 14 games for Philadelphia this season, and Clark has already scored six goals for New York.
Despite the abundance of professional experience, their short time to prepare left them with little chance against the Brazilians, who already scored three goals to put the game away during the first half.
Already within the first three minutes, Sealy showed the aggression, albeit with a bit of recklessness, that has led him to do well at PSV when he floored Brazilian keeper Mycael with an accidental shoulder to the face in the third minute, leading to a short stoppage of the game.
After coming close with a ninth-minute header, forward Marcos Leonardo, who has already played 38 times for legendary club Santos as an 18 year-old, put the Brazilians on the board just before the 11th minute. Sneaking into a position between two American defenders near the penalty spot, he collected a pass from his teammate Werton, and coolly put away his shot on the turn past Slonina.
The Santos man added another in the 20th minute from the spot, shortly after Marlon Gomes was bowled over coming into the area by San Jose youth player Casey Walls.
Slonina did his best to stop the Brazilian onslaught, saving a shot from Matheus Martins just before the half-hour, and a another distance blast shortly afterwards. However he was helpless to stop a strike from Keven three minutes before the half, who stormed unabated into the area and put away a low pass from Patryck Lanza for the 3-0.
Brazil came back from the break ruthless, and added a fourth just past the 50-minute mark, this time with Werton doing all of the work to beat Walls and Caleb Wiley and into the area before firing a cross straight across to Leonardo, who made no mistake in completing his hat-trick.
Cowell came closest for the young Yanks in the 52nd minute, with his blast from the right side of the area forcing Mycael into a diving save, however the game was effectively on ice for the remainder, with the 4-0 victory to the Brazilians going into the books.
The young squad of Varas will only have a short three days to recoup and prepare for their next game of the tournament, a mid-afternoon kickoff against the Colombians on Saturday. This will be followed by a matchup against hosts Mexico on Tuesday.