Hot on the heels of defeating Mexico and winning the CONCACAF U20 Championship, each first achievements for the Young Yanks, the American U20 MNT has been drawn into Group F with Ecuador, Senegal, and Saudi Arabia for the U20 World Cup Group to be played this May and June in South Korea.
The top two teams plus the top four third place sides qualify for the knockout rounds, so despite landing in fairly tough company, the U.S. should be able to advance. Coach Tab Ramos has qualified the U.S. for three consecutive World Cups at this age group, failing to win a game in Turkey in 2013, before falling on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals to eventual champions Serbia in 2015 in New Zealand.
The 2015 side impressed with players like Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Emerson Hyndman, Kellyn Acosta, Rubio Rubin, Desevio Payne, and Paul Arriola giving a good account of themselves in front of the usual gaggle of international scouts.
Having graduated to the senior ranks rising U.S. star Christian Pulisic, still just 18 years old, is not expected to be available for the U20 World Cup but Ramos will still have some difficult personnel decisions to make as he balances rewarding the CONCACAF winning players against selecting previously unavailable players for the Cup to strengthen his side’s chances of success in South Korea.
Carter-Vickers is available again after spending most of this season on the bench for the Tottenham first team. Ramos will also have the option of adding the likes of Arsenal prospect Gedion Zelalem, currently on loan at second division Dutch club VVV-Venlo, fullback Matt Olosunde, who is in the Manchester United youth setup, any or all of the SchalkeAmerica trio of Weston McKennie, Haji Wright, and Nicholas Taitague.
Forward Josh Perez has made a number of Serie A appearances this season with Fiorentina and continues to star with the Viola youth team, so he should expect a call. Mukwelle Akale, (Villarreal) and McKinze Gaines, (Wolfsburg), are others making their way up the ladder at European clubs and Ramos may be tempted the call them in.
Below find the groups and the U.S. first round schedule.
2017 FIFA U20 World Cup
Group A: Korea Republic (host), Guinea, Argentina, England
Group B: Venezuela, Germany, Vanuatu, Mexico
Group C: Zambia, Portugal, Iran, Costa Rica
Group D: South Africa, Japan, Italy, Uruguay
Group E: France, Honduras, Vietnam, New Zealand
Group F: Ecuador, USA, Saudi Arabia, Senegal
U.S. U20 MNT Group F Schedule:
May 22, 4 a.m. ET: Ecuador vs. USA; Incheon Stadium, Incheon
May 25, 7 a.m. ET: Senegal vs. USA; Incheon Stadium, Incheon
May 28, 5 a.m. ET: USA vs. Saudi Arabia; Daejeon World Cup Stadium,