U.S. U-20 coach Tab Ramos on Jonathan Lewis (above): “We selected Jonathan because he has some important qualities that other players don’t have (Photo by Michael Lewis)
By Michael Lewis
Front Row Soccer Editor
Head coach Tab Ramos doesn’t know how much time New York City rookie forward Jonathan Lewis will receive at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.
But the former MetroStars and U.S. national team great feels Lewis can make an impact in Costa Rica because he “is a weapon any time.”
The Americans kick off participation in the competition against Panama at Estadio Saprissa, just outside of San Jose Saturday.
Ramos said the 19-year-old Lewis can play any attacking position — wide and inside.
“We selected Jonathan because he has some important qualities that other players don’t have,” Ramos said during a Thursday conference call. “He has excellent timing on his runs. He has amazing speed, so he can break a game open any time.
“He has a very easy time of getting to goal and creating opportunities, in particular when the game is wide open. When our team doesn’t have as much possession of the ball, those times in the game happen when you are allowing the other team to have a little bit more possession and you’re playing more of a counter game, Jonathan Lewis is someone whose game fits perfectly in that scenario.”
Ramos said that the 5-7, 143-lb. Lewis’ playing time could be dictated by the opponent.
“In terms of what he can do to get better, in the end these are all 19- and 20-year-old kids, some of them are 18 — Tyler Adams just turned 18 a few days ago – so they all have a lot to learn,” he said.
Adams played an important for Red Bulls II in their ascension to the United Soccer League crown last year.
“They’re at the beginning of their careers,” Ramos said. “They’re at the beginning of seeing what the international level is about and how difficult it can be and Jonathan Lewis falls along in the same category as most of the other players.
“This is a great experience for him and I’m sure after this tournament is over he’ll be in a much better place than when it started.”
Midfielders Jonathan Gonzalez and Adams are among the youngest members of the team, but that doesn’t matter to Ramos.
“As far as Tyler and Jonathan at midfield, they’re both players capable of helping this group,” he said. “As you’ve know, age has never really mattered to me. I try to pick the best group I can pick. Those two guys happen to be two years younger, but I think they’re ready to contribute just like anybody else. They will and will be a big part of this tournament.”