WIth England losing in the round of 16 and Spain losing in a thriller last night to Brazil, Chelsea are down to a single player left in the FIFA U20 World Cup this season. Today we'll take a look at one of the two players who are on their way back to Cobham this week, left back Ben Gordon. Gordon probably wasn't a top choice for the English team if they played at full strength. 36 different players were refused permission to play in the tournament by their clubs due to the start of the Premier League season, so the squad they went to Colombia with didn't have much experience together. That showed, as they managed three goalless draws in the group phase to finish third. Somehow that was enough to reach the round of 16, at which point they were knocked out by a score of 1-0 by Nigeria.
Gordon started and played the full 90 in both the final game of the group stage and the knockout round game, and had fairly decent results in the two. In both games he was very active up and down the flank, and did a fairly nice job of getting to spots where he could cross the ball into the box on the attacking end. His crosses weren't all that useful, however, as not many English players were making runs to either post. He also did a nice job in link up play on the flank, as his overlapping runs allowed most of the English "threat" to come from the left side of the field.
Gordon didn't do a terrible job tracking back either. He generally was very quick to get back to position defensively, and that kind of effort made him one of the better players for England (for whatever that's worth). Gordon was, however, responsible for allowing an attacker to run in behind him that led to the only goal of the tournament against the English team. This is a problem that Gordon has had for a bit with the reserves and out on loan as well. He really needs to do a better job holding his line and realizing when attackers are running in behind him. All in all, it was a pretty typical performance from Gordon...not great, but not bad. Nothing about him really stood out, either positively or negatively. Here are the highlights from the game against Nigeria, in case you wanted to see him in action (he's wearing #6):
Here's the highlights from the other match he was involved in (Mexico):
Gordon got back to Cobham on Friday, and he did not dress for the reserve game this morning. In all likelihood Gordon will be heading out on loan as soon as details can be finalized. He's currently the third left back on the depth chart at the reserve level, so even playing time in reserve matches will be tough for Gordon to get if he remains here. With PVA and Bertrand both on long term contracts (they both run through 2015), the fact that Gordon has only two years remaining on his deal makes this a huge year for him. He probably has to show huge improvement in the coming months or show the ability to play another position if he's going to have any chance of a new contract. Hopefully he gets sent to a Championship club where he'll both get lots of minutes and the ability to play multiple positions.