U-20s: US stars Jose Villarreal, Daniel Cuevas in fitness race for final vs. Mexico
PUEBLA, Mexico – Jose Villarreal and Daniel Cuevas have scored five of the US Under-20 national team’s nine goals so far in the CONACACAF U-20 Championship, but both are in a race against time to make Sunday’s final showdown against Mexico (7 pm ET, watch on FOX Soccer).
"Jose is a great player and Dani has been our most consistent player on the field in terms of making plays, so we definitely would like to have those guys 100 percent,” coach Tab Ramos told reporters after training on Saturday. “But we aren’t going to know until tomorrow if they are going to play.”
LA Galaxy forward Villarreal injured his ankle in the quarterfinal against Canada but completed the game due to the sheer adrenaline of the occasion, he told reporters after training on Saturday. The 19-year-old sat out Friday’s semifinal victory over Cuba, but remains optimistic that he will make the grand finale against El Tri.
“It’s looking a lot better,” he explained. “It’s going to come down to a game-time decision between me and the coach. I really want to play, you know, it’s a big game against Mexico, so I’m excited.”
Santos Laguna’s Cuevas has been in many ways the breakout star of the US team this tournament, but was unable to train on Saturday after he also picked up an ankle injury late in the game against Cuba.
The issue of whether the duo play is of even greater importance due to the fact that if both are ruled out, the US will have only 11 outfield players available.
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com.