The US Under-20 celebrates a goal against Panama at the CONCACAF championships in Guatemala.

CONCACAF U-20s: USA, Canada learn group-stage foes

Finally, the Canadians got the draw they wanted, but the US U-20 national team faces a tricky path through the group stage of the CONCACAF qualifying for the 2013 U-20 World Cup.

Canada, whose senior team has continually failed to escape difficult groups in World Cup qualifying, were drawn into arguably the easiest group during the qualifying draw held in Puebla, Mexico, on Wednesday afternoon. In Group B, Nick Dasovic's Canadian side will face Nicaragua and Cuba, two nations that have never qualified for a World Cup at any level. (Cuba participated in the 1938 World Cup but only after being awarded a berth by default as one of two nations from the Americas not to withdraw from qualifying in protest to the tournament's being held in Europe for a second successive time.) 

Meanwhile, Tab Ramos's US side, which was preselected as the top seed in Group A, will have a much trickier path. They are in arguably the hardest group, with Haiti and the formidible Costa Rican side. The U-20 Ticos qualified and reached the round of 16 at the last World Cup.

The CONCACAF qualifying tournament, which doubles as the region's U-20 championship, will take place in Puebla, February 18 through March 2. The four semifinalists will earn berths in the World Cup, being held in Turkey in late June/early July.

The US, then coached by Thomas Rongen, crashed out of the CONCACAF tournament in 2011 after a shocking loss to Guatemala in the quarterfinals. Canada fell to Mexico at the same stage. 


2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship Groups

Group A Group B Group C Group D
USA Canada Jamaica Mexico
Costa Rica Nicaragua Panama El Salvador
Haiti Cuba Puerto Rico Curacao


2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship schedule

Monday, February 18 (Estadio Universitario)
Haiti vs. United States, 6:30 pm (5:30 pm)
Cuba vs. Canada, 9 pm (8 pm)

Tuesday, February 19 (Estadio Cuauhtémoc)
Puerto Rico vs. Jamaica, 6:30 pm (5:30 pm)
Mexico vs. Curacao, 9 pm (8 pm)

Wednesday, February 20 (Estadio Universitario)
Costa Rica vs. Haiti, 6:30 pm (5:30 pm)
Nicaragua vs. Cuba, 9 pm (8 pm)

Thursday, February 21 (Estadio Cuauhtémoc)
Panama vs. Puerto Rico, 6:30 pm (5:30 pm)
El Salvador vs. Curacao, 9 pm (8 pm)

Friday, February 22 (Estadio Universitario)
United States vs. Costa Rica, 6:30 pm (5:30 pm)
Canada vs. Nicaragua, 9 pm (8 pm)

Saturday, February 23 (Estadio Cuauhtémoc)
Jamaica vs. Panama, 4:30 pm (3:30 pm)
Mexico vs. El Salvador, 7 pm (6 pm)

(match order subject to change)

Tuesday, February 26 (Estadio Universitario)
QF 1:  Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up, 6:30 pm (5:30 pm)
QF 2:  Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up, 9 pm (8 pm)

Wednesday, February 27 (Estadio Cuauhtémoc)
QF 3:  Group C winner vs. Group D runner-up, 6:30 pm (5:30 pm)
QF 4:  Group D winner vs. Group C runner-up, 9 pm (8 pm)

(match order subject to change)

Friday, March 1 (Estadio Universitario)
SF 1:  Winner QF1 vs. Winner QF2, 6:30 pm (5:30 pm)
SF 2: Winner QF3 vs. Winner QF4, 9 pm (8 pm)


Sunday, March 3
Third Place (Estadio Cuauhtémoc)
Loser SF1 v Loser SF2, 4 pm (3 pm)

Final (Estadio Cuauhtémoc)
Winner SF 1 v Winner SF2, 7 pm (6 pm)