The United States Under-20 men's national team will leave Argentina with a bad taste in their mouth. What once seemed like an U20 World Cup run that seemed destined for something great, ended with a resounding thud. Four games of near-flawless soccer were undone by two uncharacteristic mistakes against Uruguay and, in games of this magnitude, you often can't overcome one.
So that's where the U.S. sits as their World Cup comes to an end: looking back at four very good games as well as one very bad one. How you view that run depends on if you're a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person. Do you look back at the four as a sign of progress or at the one as a sign of just how far this group still has to go?
That'll be up for debate, and we likely won't find the answer for several years. The point of U20 soccer, ultimately, isn't neccessarily to win trophies, but to develop players for the senior team. This team's legacy won't be defined by what happens in 2023, but rather in 2026, 2030 and beyond when, hopefully, a few of them become key contributors to the U.S. men's national team.
Mike Varas' primary job was to win this tournament, of course, and the U.S. will feel like they could have if a few bounces had gone their way. They had the better of the play against Uruguay, no doubt, and there was a path to glory there for the taking.
It didn't happen. So be it. Now, it's time to look back at what the run was instead of ahead at what the run could be. So, with that in mind, here's a look at the big winners and losers from the U.S. team's run through the U20 World Cup: