The US Under-20 national team is back in the FIFA U-20 World Cup after missing the 2011 edition, but they've got their work cut out for them if they want to stick around in Turkey this summer.
The draw for the group stage was conducted on Monday in Istanbul, and Tab Ramos' side has been drawn into a Group A that includes Spain, France and an African country to be determined following the conclusion of the African U-20 Championship. According to the official release from FIFA, the announcement of the teams in Group A "drew gasps from the neutrals in the audience."
The Americans open their tournament on June 21 against Spain, who fell to eventual champions Brazil in the quarterfinals of the 2011 U-20 World Cup. Three days later, Ramos' side will get another stiff test in France, who finished fourth in 2011. The Yanks then face the African team – either Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria or Mali – to close out the group stage on June 27.
“I’m really excited for our players, to play against some of the best teams in the world," Ramos said in a statement released by U.S. Soccer. "This is the reason why you go to the World Cup – to play against the best. We get Spain and France right off the bat and we’re going to start working toward our preparation for that.”
Among the other CONCACAF entrants to this summer's tournament, Cuba were drawn into Group B alongside South Korea, Portugal and a to-be-determined African country, while CONCACAF champions Mexico are in Group D, with Greece, Paraguay and another African country.
The U-20 World Cup kicks off June 21 and runs through July 13.
Here is the complete draw:
GROUP A (Istanbul, Kayseri): France, CAF, USA, Spain.
GROUP B (Kayseri, Istanbul): Cuba, Korea Republic, CAF, Portugal
GROUP C (Trabzon, Rize, Gaziantep): Turkey, El Salvador, Colombia, Australia
GROUP D (Gaziantep, Trabzon): Mexico, Greece, Paraguay, CAF
GROUP E (Antalya, Bursa): Chile, CAF Champions, England, Iraq
GROUP F (Bursa, Antalya): OFC Champions, Uzbekistan, Uruguay, Croatia