Observations: US U20s 2-2 Canada U20s

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Monday night the USMYNT U-20s came from behind twice to draw Canada 2-2 in Honduras in the 2022 Concacaf U20 championship tournament.

The Philadelphia Union have four players on that roster, and all four started against the neighbors to the north.

Brandan Craig, uniform No. 5, was the left center back in a four-man line, and a free kick taker.

His match characterized his current state of development. On the Canadians’ first goal, he learned from his mistake in Rochester that had led to a PK and did not lunge, but did not manage to block the scoring strike either (the way Jakob Glesnes might have done). On the other hand his free kick in the third minute of stoppage time correctly judged that the Canadian goalkeeper was positioned too far towards his far post, and the shot beat him. But it also went wide of the near post and missed being a game winner at the death.

By the time the second half rolled around Jack McGlynn, No. 8, at midfield seemed to be the creative force through whom the US team was playing. When he went off with cramps in the final ten minutes, the U.S.’s possession became aimless. It lacked its former offensive threat –  combination play, forward passing, and off the ball movement.

McGlynn had scored the first pull-even goal in the first third of the second half on a strike from distance in the immediate development of a short corner kick. When he is set up and not pressured, his left foot is lethal.

To the eyes of this writer, on the night McGlynn may have shown his best future positional fit. The U.S. often had two of its three midfielders positioned in front of the defense as a double pivot. McGlynn was almost always in it but with a clear license to use judgment thrusting forward into the attack. And as mentioned, he was the match bell cow.

Quinn Sullivan, No. 7, was the right winger in a three-man attacking line. Often he stacked in front of McGlynn, and the familiarity of teammates with each other was obvious. As an attacker he is more of a garbage man than a creator, but his improvisational melee attempt two or three minutes after McGlynn had tied it was three inches too high and struck the left-side upper angle of the steelwork rather than taking the lead.

Paxton Aaronson, No. 10, started as the center forward. He has enough twinkle in his toes that he can generate shots from that position when in a crowd, and did so. Unfortunately they were all struck right to Canada’s properly positioned keeper. He also showed good field coverage and aggressive high press defending. He is not yet his brother, but he is noticeably better at those things than he was in March.

The draw against Canada means Cuba leads the group with six points to the U.S.’s four. Both have already qualified for the tournament’s knockout stage.

The final match of the group stage is Wednesday night against Cuba at 8:30 pm Eastern. It is a “must-win” match if the U.S. is to finish first. TUDN is supposed to broadcast it. TUDN means it is in Spanish of course.


  1. McGlynn showed a real ability to spray passes around and pull strings from midfield. The issue with the U20s is that they don’t have a true 6 to cover for McGlynns lack of defense.

    Well luckily the Union have the best 6 in the league, plus another player who probably projects long term as a pretty good 6 too. That is more reason to try McGlynn at the 8. I’d feel a lot better if Uhre/Carranza/Santos are making runs into space and being fed by McGlynn than anyone else on the team.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      McGlyns quality in that match was estupendous.
      Best player on the field by a wide margin and makes one wonder why on earth with a 6 like Martinez capable of covering for him- he is not the every day starter over Flach- who whole a very solid player I’d surplus to goods.
      McGlyn IS what the offense is missing. Now for JimJim to finally figure it out.

    • I think it’s worth a shot. The only potential downside that Jim mentioned is that Wagner then probably ends up staying home a bit more / less involved in the attack. I can see why he’d think that’s worse, but seems worth a try anyway.

      • HopkinsMD says:

        I agree… worth trying and doing so over multiple games, barring a train wreck on the field.

      • Union fan says:

        Might also depend on if Wagner moves back to Europe this window. He’s been pretty clear for 18 months or so he wants to move back. If he does, I’d want either Real or Flach sitting deeper and concentrating on their D over whatever they might bring going forward.

  2. Hate to tap the brakes on all the love for the youngsters. This is an Under 20 tournament. IOW….not playing against grown men, or seasoned professionals. These players have shown flashes of what they capable of with the Union, but have yet to show that they can play at that level consistently.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    Tuned in just in time to see Sullivan give the US a 3-0 lead in the 42nd minute. Then at halftime I saw the scoring summary…the goal I saw completed the hat trick.

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