The U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team is on a captivating run at the U-20 FIFA World Cup across the Pacific Ocean in South Korea. Join the fun find out what you need to know to catch up and keep up with the U-20’s!
1. Why does it matter?
The U-20 FIFA World Cup serves as a tremendous platform for the game’s up-and-coming players to shine on the international stage as they begin their professional careers. In total, 35 players selected to a U-20 World Cup roster have gone on to represent the United States at the main event years later. Current MNT stars DeAndre Yedlin (2013), Jozy Altidore (2007), Michael Bradley (2007), Clint Dempsey (2003), DaMarcus Beasley (2001), Tim Howard (1999), and Nick Rimando (2014) each competed in past U-20 World Cups before being included in the U.S. squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
READ MORE: Boys 2 Men: U-20 MNT Players Who Went on to Represent the U.S. at the FIFA World Cup
2. Who’s on the team?
The U-20 Men’s National Team is composed of 21 players holding U.S. passports born after Jan. 1, 1997. Eighteen of the rostered players have ties to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, including captain Erik-Palmer Brown, who also plies his trade for M.L.S.’s Sporting Kansas City. In addition, the squad features 2013/14 U-15/16 Academy Player of the Year Jeremy Ebobisse and two Conference Player of the Year honorees in Sebastian Saucedo (West, 2014) and Eryk Williamson (East, 2015). Three members of the roster also participated in the 2015 U-20 FIFA World Cup: Palmer-Brown, Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem, who suffered a tournament-ending knee injury in the team’s opening match.
3. What have they done so far?
The team qualified for the tournament when they won our nation’s first U-20 regional title at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in March via a shootout against Honduras in the Final. Despite dropping the first game 1-0 to Panama, the team went on to win four straight en route to the Final by a combined score of 11-3, including a huge 1-0 win against Mexico that set the table for the U.S. to reach the title match.
READ MORE: All Systems Go: Men’s Youth National Teams Thriving in 2017
So far at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic, the U.S. recorded a remarkable 3-3 comeback draw against Ecuador with a stoppage time goal from Fulham’s Luca de la Torre in its opening group stage match before defeating a tough Senegal side 1-0 and notching a 1-1 draw against Saudi Arabia to come out on top of Group F. The U-20’s put forth a dominant performance in their first game of the knockout stage, registering a 6-0 win with five goals in the final 30 minutes against New Zealand.
Josh Sargent, the youngest player on the team at 17 years old, paces the team goal scoring and is tied for second in the tournament with four goals in four games. Jonathan Klinsmann, son of former U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, has stood between the pipes in all four games, recording two clean sheets and eight saves.
READ MORE: 5 Things to Know About Josh Sargent
4. What’s next?
The U.S. is set to take on Venezuela, just hours after the U.S. Men’s Senior Team will do the same in Utah, in the U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals on Sunday, June 4 at 2 a.m. ET. The U-20 match can be viewed live on FS2 and Telemundo En Vivo. With a win, the USA would secure at least a top-four spot at the World Cup, marking the best finish ever by a youth U.S. Men’s side at a U-20 World Cup.