The United States under-20 team failed to make the World Cup two years ago and now face a tough final round to make it to Turkey next summer. Tab Ramos has 20 players that are looking to make their way out of the group that features Haiti and Costa Rica and into the top four automatic qualifier positions. The squad includes 13 professional players that all have a big task ahead of them.
Mexico is the favorite heading into the tournament, but the first two countries in the way of the U.S. are Costa Rica and Haiti. Haiti is considered to be one of the most athletic teams in the field, but may not have to skill to get the right results. The match between the U.S. and Costa Rica, led by John Jairo Ruiz, should be tight throughout. Costa Rica has players that are based in Belgium and Italy. The U.S. will begin play tomorrow at 6:30 pm EST on Fox Soccer against Haiti. The match against Costa Rica is Friday.
The U.S. attack is led by Luis Gil of Real Salt Lake and Jose Villarreal of the LA Galaxy. Gil is the most experienced player in the bunch and the two have increased their chemistry over the last year. Villarreal is a dynamic striker who has grown over the last two years and could break a game open in the blink of an eye. Ramos will also be counting on Benji Joya and Jerome Kiesewetter.
If the U.S. should advance out of the group then concern can be turned to Mexico and other quarterfinal teams. Mexico is lead by Marco Bueno, Jesus Corona and Antonio Briseno. Bueno starts for Pachuca in Liga MX. Canada and Jamaica are the other leading candidates to make it into the top four and advance to the U20 World Cup. Canada and the U.S. could face one another in that important quarterfinal match up with the loser being eliminated. The goal for the U.S. should be to win group A and face a quarterfinal match up with either Nicaragua or Cuba, the unknown in the tournament.
U.S. v Cuba
Costa Rica v Canada
Jamaica v El Salvador
Mexico v Panama
The folks at TopDrawerSoccer.com have created this wonderful depth chart for the U.S. squad ahead of the tournament.