After recording a second-place finish in Group B of the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship on Friday, the U.S. U-20 MNT is set to take on Mexico in its first of two Classification Stage games on Monday at 5 p.m. ET (livestream on CONCACAF’s Facebook Page).
Here’s what you need to know going into Monday’s playoff game:
1. U-20 MNT Roster Breakdown
The U.S. U-20 MNT is coached by former U.S. National Team standout Tab Ramos, who named the roster for this tournament on Feb. 9. The roster consists of 20 players and is captained by defender Erik Palmer-Brown, the only rostered player to participate in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Seventeen players on the roster have spent time in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, including 2013-14 U-15/16 Academy Player of the Year and 2017 M.L.S. fourth overall draft pick Jeremy Ebobisse.
2. What is the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship?
The CONCACAF Under-20 Championship is the tournament that determines the region’s four representatives in the FIFA U-20 World Cup to be played in South Korea, beginning this May. The tournament began with 12 teams, split into three groups of four. The top two finishers in each group have advanced to the Classification Stage, split into two groups of three. The top two teams in each group of the Classification Stage will secure a berth at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the winner of each group will advance to the CONCACAF tournament final.
3. USA’s History at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship
The U.S. has participated in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship since 1962 and appeared in every competition since it began determining the World Youth Championship (now known as the FIFA U-20 World Cup) in 1976. The USA has qualified for all but one FIFA U-20 World Cup since 1994, including appearances in each of the past two cycles under Ramos. Tim Howard (1998), DaMarcus Beasley (2001), Landon Donovan (2001), Oguchi Onyewu (2001), Eddie Johnson (2003), Jozy Altidore (2007) and Michael Bradley (2007) have all participated in this tournament over the years. More recently, Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Emerson Hyndman and Matt Miazga starred for the U.S. in 2015.
4. U.S. Earns Six Points, Scores Eight Goals in First Three Games of 2017 WCQ
The U-20’s rebounded following a 1-0 loss in its first game of the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship with a pair of 4-1 wins against Haiti on Tuesday and St. Kitts and Nevis on Friday. Brooks Lennon notched a hat trick, scoring goals in the 28th (penalty kick), 53rd and 58th minutes of the USA’s win against Haiti to put the team in control of its own destiny to advance heading into Friday’s group finale. Lennon kicked off the scoring once more against St. Kitts and Nevis, followed by goals from Jonathan Lewis and a pair from Sebastian Saucedo. Ebobisse picked up an assist in each of the U-20’s final two games, which Jonathan Klinsmann and JT Marcinkowski split in goal on Tuesday and Friday, respectively.
5. What Monday Night’s Game Means
Monday Night’s contest against Mexico marks the first of two Classification Stage games for the U.S. The U-20’s have earned a place in Group D, along with Mexico and most likely El Salvador, both of which topped their groups in the Group Stage. A win in Monday’s game would go a long way for the USA, considering the top two finishers in Group D (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss) advance to the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The U-20’s will compete against El Salvador in the final game of the round on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET.