The up-and-coming stars of Australian football had their last hit-out before the big tournament.The Young Socceroos lost 2-0 to the United States in their third and final lead up game ahead of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt.
The USA scored early in the first half and midway through the second half at the Agia Napa Municipality Stadium in Cyprus, to secure the win.
As was always the plan, coach Jan Versleijen reverted back to virtually the same team that defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-1 at the same ground three days earlier.
The only change was the addition of keeper Dean Bouzanis, who was handed his first start with Versleijen promising to give each of the keeper’s at least a game each.
The Young Socceroos again conceded early, with Tony Taylor cutting in from the left and striking sweetly to hand the US a fourth minute lead.
Australia had a chance to equalize in the 28th minute when Kofi Danning centered for Jason Hoffman, but US keeper Brian Perk made a stunning double save off striker Jason Hoffman.
Perk was tested again just after the break when he tipped James Holland’s curling free kick over the bar.
The U.S. made the Young Socceroos pay in the 74th minute when Mikkel Diskerud pounced after a mix up between Bouzanis and McGowan to make it 2-0.
Substitute Sean Rooney almost netted seven minutes later, but Perk made another good save from the striker’s header low to his right.
It was not the desired result, but coach Jan Versleijen said it was all crucial experience for the players ahead of the Young Socceroos’ opening match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup against Czech Republic on 27 September.
"If you look at the result and the way we gave away the goals it’s not good. We also saw that in the England game (on Saturday) and it’s something that we have to get rid because we can not have that at the World Cup," Versleijen said.
"It was the final test for the USA and you could see that, their concentration levels were high and they’re always a good team. They’re disciplined, well organized and difficult to beat and they showed that today.
"We’ve played three games over here and the objective was to give everyone at least 90 minutes playing time to see what they can do, and for me to have an idea as to what sort of composition I have to make when we start our first game against Czech Republic.
"I have to look for a good balance in the backline, in midfield, and certain qualities in the front line that you need at this level, and from the three games I’ve got a good idea."
The Qantas Young Socceroos won their first match against Trinidad and Tobago 2-1, before succumbing to England 2-0 and now USA with the same scoreline during their three-game tour of Cyprus.
With all those teams preparing to do battle at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt also, Versleijen said he is now well placed to select him team for the opening match of the tournament.
"It’s good playing against opponents who will be at the World Cup because if you make those mistakes, straight away you’ll be punished so it’s good experience," Versleijen said.
"We got the challenges we wanted.
"The qualifiers were in Saudi Arabia against Asian teams and that’s different than competing against all of these teams who will be at the World Cup. This is a step up.
"We have a few days where we can work a bit harder at training and work on some tactical parts of the game, especially the combination between the midfielders and the forwards, or the attacking third."
For a full preview of the U-20 World Cup, check out a sneak peak at Goal.com Magazine.