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U.S. Under-20 MNT to Face Costa Rica and Haiti in Group A of 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship

CONCACAF Rival and Tournament Host Mexico Placed into Group D with El Salvador and Curaçao at Wednesday’s CONCACAF U-20 Championship Draw

PUEBLA, Mexico (Nov. 21, 2012) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will compete in Group A alongside Costa Rica  and Haiti at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship . The draw to determine the groups took place Wednesday at Casa Puebla in Puebla, Mexico. The tournament is set to run from Feb. 18 to March 3, 2013, at two venues in Puebla, with the top four finishers qualifying for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

The other three groups were drawn as follows: Group B contains Canada, Nicaragua and Cuba. Group C consists of Jamaica, Panama and Puerto Rico, while Group D comprises host country Mexico, El Salvador and Curaçao.

“It’s not easy, but it’s never easy,” U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos said of the team’s draw. “We have to prepare well. We have good opponents in our group. Costa Rica has been to the last three U-20 World Cups, so that’s a tough opponent to have. I just went down to scout Haiti in Jamaica, so I know them well and I’ve watched them play. They are very good also, but we will be prepared.”

The U.S. will play all of its group matches at Estadio Olímpico C.U. in Puebla. The other venue is set to be Estadio Cuauhtemoc.

In the group stage, each team will play the other teams once, with the top two teams from each of the four groups advancing to the quarterfinals to be played Feb. 26 and 27. The semifinals are scheduled for March 1, with the final and third-place game slated for March 3. All four semifinalists qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup from June 21-July 13, 2013, in Turkey.

An automatic qualifier for the tournament, the U.S. has a record of 3-6-0 during the 2012 calendar year. The U.S. has not faced Costa Rica or Haiti so far during this cycle.  

More U.S. U-20 MNT News: 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship Draw Quote Sheet

Costa Rica finished in second place during the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, losing in the final to Mexico. The Ticos reached the Round of 16 during the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia and have qualified for the last three editions of the tournament. Costa Rica finished an all-time best fourth place during the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt. During that year, the U.S. lost to Costa Rica in the championship match of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship.

Haiti last qualified for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in 2007 when Les Grenadiers were drawn into the same group as the USA. Andre Akpan scored a hat trick and Anthony Wallace added a fourth goal as the U.S. opened the group stage with a 4-1 win against Haiti on Jan. 17, 2007, at Estadio Rommel Fernández in Panama City, Panama. Haiti also qualified for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in 2003, but the island nation has never qualified for the U-20 World Cup.

The U.S. is looking to rebound from a disappointing finish in the 2011 CONCACAF U-20 Championship where the team was bounced from the tournament in the quarterfinals, losing 2-1 against host Guatemala at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City. Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala advanced to the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, while the U.S. is hoping to make its first appearance in the U-20 World Cup since the 2009 edition in Egypt.

“I want to make sure that in particular for this group, we have been and will continue to spell out how important it would be for them to participate in the Under-20 World Cup and to showcase themselves to the world,” Ramos said. “None of that can happen if we don’t have a great tournament here [in Mexico]. We won’t look past what we have in front of us and, as everyone says, we will take it one game at a time.”