CONCACAF has announced the groups and schedule for the regions U20 Men’s Championship to be held in Jamaica in January 2015. The 12 nation tournament also servers as the World Cup qualifiers for the region. The tournament runs from January 9-24, with matches played in Kingston and Montego Bay.
The U.S. MNT U20 team have been placed in Group A, along with the hosts, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Panama, and Guatemala.
Mexico headline Group B, which also includes Canada, Haiti, Cuba, Honduras and El Salvador. Despite all of their recent success. Costa Rica have not qualified for this finals.
This is a new format for the CONCACAF U20 Championship. Past tournaments had featured four groups of three teams.
In this new structure the first-place teams in each group automatically qualifies for the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup in New Zealand, and advance to face each other in the CONCACAF U20 Championship Final. The second and third place teams in each group will be reseeded based on group stage results. In this playoff stage, the top seed will play the No. 4 seed and the second seed will face the No. 3 seed. The two winners from these respective games will also qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
U.S. U20 coach Tab Ramos will begin prepping his squad for the tournament with a trip to Marbella, Spain, from Nov. 10-19 for three international matches. The Young Yanks will play Russia’s U20 national team on Nov. 12, the Republic of Ireland’s U21 squad on Nov. 15 and Canada’s U20s on Nov. 18. The U-20 MNT roster for the Spain trip will be announced in the coming days.
“As we get into Spain, that will be a great opportunity to see some of our European-based players, so I’m excited about finally getting that camp in Europe,” Ramos said, in a statement released by U.S. Soccer. “Come December,” Ramos continued, “when we are putting things together, I believe we will have a group that will help us qualify for the World Cup. It is a deep group, so we will definitely have some difficult decisions to make.”
The U.S. finished runner-up to Mexico at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico. That group qualified for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where the team was drawn a difficult Group A that included France, Spain and Ghana. Though the USA did not advance out of the group, it did play eventual champion France to a 1-1 draw. Defender’s France were eliminated in qualifying, and will not be on hand to defend its title.
The USA has earned second place in the qualification tournament six times (1980, 1982, 1986, 1992, 2009, 2013), but has yet to win a CONCACAF U20 Championship title.
The U.S. has qualified for 13 FIFA World Youth Championships/FIFA U-20 World Cups. The USA’s best World Cup finish was a fourth-place performance at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship.
24 nation’s will contest the Men’s U20 FIFA World Cup in seven cities across New Zealand from May 30- June 20.
2015 CONCACAF U20 Championship
Group A: Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, Panama, USA, Guatemala
Group B: Haiti, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Honduras, El Salvador
USA’s Group A Schedule:
Friday, Jan. 9: Guatemala, 6:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Jan. 11: Panama, 6:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Jan. 14: Aruba, 6:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, Jan. 18: Jamaica, 9 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Jan. 21: Trinidad & Tobago, 6:30 p.m. ET