The young U.S. women's team is doing well at the Pan-American games, and just advanced to the gold-medal match versus the host team, Brazil.
When I was talking to Jill Ellis about this squad, she mentioned her opinion that this U20 team didn't have the talent that the previous squad did (members from that team, now on the U21 squad, just trounced Germany, 4-0 to win the Nordic Cup).
Jill had the view that the current U20 squad had "nice players" but not that special spark of extra skill. Jill was also a little wary of facing the full national teams of Canada, Mexico and Brazil at the Pan-Am games. The U.S. federation had already committed to sending a youth team before they found out most other countries were including a large share of their senior players.
I tried to be encouraging, sharing an observation that sometimes, the team without big stars really pulls together and plays as a cohesive unit.
"Sometimes the whole can be stronger than the parts," I pointed out.
"That's true," said Jill. "We'll see how it turns out."
I'd say it's gone pretty well.
The men's team was eliminated by Mexico at the Pan-Am games, 2-0.