The United States Under-20 national team will have a favorable group at this summer’s FIFA U-20 World Cup, with Tuesday's draw pitting the young Americans against hosts New Zealand, Ukraine and Myanmar in Group A.
The opposition is a far cry from what the US faced at the 2013 U-20 World Cup, where Ramos' side finished last in its group behind eventual champions France, Spain and Ghana.
The U-20 World Cup will begin on May 30 and run until June 20. The US qualified for the tournament last month, when they finished third at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Jamaica.
"It's always an exciting moment to know your group as the reality sets in for the World Cup stage," head coach Tab Ramos said in a statement. "New Zealand, Ukraine and Myanmar will certainly prove to be formidable opponents. At this phase, every country is a challenge, so we will need to be clicking on all cylinders tactically, physically and mentally. We made great strides during the qualifying tournament, and we're confident that with our deep pool of players that we can have a successful run at the World Cup."
Twenty-four teams qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, with the top two teams from each of the tournament’s six groups and the four highest ranked third-place teams advancing to the knockout stage.
Several MLS players starred for the US in qualifying, with Columbus Crew SC midfielder Romain Gall leading the team with five goals, LA Galaxy forward Bradford Jamieson IV notching a pair of strikes and San Jose Earthquakes forward Tommy Thompson playing a key role throughout the tournament. In all, seven MLS players were on head coach Tab Ramos’ 20-man roster in Jamaica.
The US’s main rival didn’t have as much luck on Tuesday, with Mexico drawn into what is perhaps the tournament’s “Group of Death.” The winners of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, El Tri were drawn into Group D with Uruguay, Serbia and the second-place finishers at the African U-20 Championship, which will take place next month.
Uruguay’s squad will likely feature New England Revolution Homegrown player Diego Fagundez, who played in four of the country’s nine matches in their third-place finish at the South American U-20 Championship last month. Fagundez, who recorded 18 goals and 11 assists in 62 appearances in the last two seasons for the Revs, became permanently cap-tied to Uruguay at the South American U-20 Championship.
GROUP STAGE SCHEDULE
Group A: New Zealand vs. Ukraine | Auckland | 9 pm
Group B: Argentina vs. Panama | Wellington | 12 am
Group A: USA vs. Myanmar | Whangarei | 12 am
Group B: CAF3 vs. Austria | Wellington | 3 am
Group C: Qatar vs. Colombia | Hamilton | 9 pm
Group D: Mexico vs. CAF2 | Dunedin | 9 pm
Group D: Uruguay vs. Serbia | Dunedin | 12 am
Group C: Portugal vs. CAF4 | Hamilton | 12 am
Group F: Germany vs. Fiji | Christchurch | 9 pm
Group E: CAF1 vs. Brazil | New Plymouth | 9 pm
Group F: Uzbekistan vs. Honduras | Christchurch | 12 am
Group E: North Korea vs. Hungary | New Plymouth | 12 am
Group A: Myanmar vs. Ukraine | Whangarei | 9 pm
Group B: Argentina vs. CAF3 | Wellington | 12 am
Group B: Austria vs. Panama | Wellington | 3 am
Gropu A: New Zealand vs. USA | Auckland | 3 am
Group D: Mexico vs. Uruguay | Dunedin | 12 am
Group C: Qatar vs. Portugal | Hamilton | 12 am
Group C: CAF4 vs. Colombia | Hamilton | 3 am
Group D: Serbia vs. CAF2 | Dunedin | 3 am
Group F: Germany vs. Uzbekistan | Christchurch | 12 am
Group E: CAF1 vs. North Korea | New Plymouth | 12 am
Group F: Honduras vs. Fiji | Christchurch | 3 am
Group E: Hungary vs. Brazil | New Plymouth | 3 am
Group B: Austria vs. Argentina | Wellington | 12 am
Group B: Panama vs. CAF3 | Auckland | 12 am
Group A: Myanmar vs. New Zealand | Wellington | 3 am
Group A: Ukraine vs. USA | Auckland | 3 am
Group C: CAF4 vs. Qatar | Hamilton | 9 pm
Gropu C: Colombia vs. Portugal | Dunedin | 9 pm
Group D: CAF2 vs. Uruguay | Hamilton | 12 am
Group D: Serbia vs. Mexico | Dunedin | 12 am
Group F: Honduras vs. Germany | Christchurch | 10 pm
Group F: Fiji vs. Uzbekistan | Whangarei | 10 pm
Group E: Brazil vs. North Korea | Christchurch | 1 am
Group E: Hungary vs. CAF1 | New Plymouth | 1 am