Tab Ramos on Venezuela: “Definitely a very difficult challenge for us, but also I think we are a challenge for them.” (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
JEONJU, Korea — The United States enters the FIFA Under-20 World Cup quarterfinals one confident side.
The Americans take on undefeated and unscored upon Venezuela for a spot in the final four early Sunday morning ET and they believe they can reach the semifinals.
“Venezuela is a real good team,” U.S. head coach Tab Ramos said. “They did well in South America. They beat Argentina there 3-0. They knocked out Brazil. They have done well in this World Cup. Definitely a very difficult challenge for us, but also I think we are a challenge for them.”
Forward Jeremy Ebobisse, who scored in the 6-0 victory over New Zealand in the Round of 16, was just as optimistic before the U.S. played at Jeonju World Cup Stadium.
“They have some dynamic wingers and forwards but our defense has been shutting down the [opposition] last couple of games,” he said. “I have full confidence in them doing the same. It doesn’t matter who they’re up against.
“We’re going to win. I’m confident.”
Both foes are unbeaten through five matches in this competition.
The Venezuelans, whose anchor has been New York City FC midfielder Yangel Herrera, are a perfect 4-0, scoring a tournament-high 11 goals and surrendering one.
The Americans are battle hardened, playing in three one-goal games while forging a 2-0-2 mark.
“I think we have gotten through the tough part of the tournament,” Ramos said. “You’ve got to grind out results and now we’re at the point where we potentially have three big games left. We have go to after one. We obviously have to win all of them. But now we’re just focused on Venezuela and getting through that one.”
Ramos said he was quite impressed not only with the talent his team brings to the pitch, but its mental attitude as well.
“The way they fight, not just for themselves, but for each other as well, there’s a good winning mentality here,” he said. “That’s why they came here as champions and hopefully leave here as champions as well.”
Added forward Brooks Lennon: “We’re fighting every game and we’re getting results. Hopefully, we can get the win and move onto the semifinal.”