USA Aims to Continue Run vs. Venezuela in U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals | 2am ET | FS2, Telemundo En Vivo

JEONJU, Korea Republic (June 3, 2017) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will look to advance to the FIFA U-20 World Cup Semifinals for just the second time when it faces Venezuela on Sunday, June 4 at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, Korea Republic. The match will be broadcast live on FS2 and Telemundo En Vivo with kickoff set for 2:00 a.m. ET. Fans can also follow the match live on twitter at @ussoccer_ynt.

The U.S. finished atop Group F, drawing 3-3 with Ecuador and defeating Senegal 1-0 before a 10-man U.S. side played to a 1-1 tie with Saudi Arabia, the U-20 MNT then downed New Zealand 6-0 in the Round of 16. The six-goal output against the Junior All-Whites matched a 6-0 win against Turkey at the 1993 edition for the USA’s largest margin of victory at a FIFA U-20 World Cup.

On Sunday, the USA will look to advance to the Semifinals for the first time since 1989, when the side had its best all-time finish, taking fourth place.

Venezuela enters the match after finishing first in Group B and also as the only remaining team in the competition yet to concede a goal. After a perfect start to the group stage, where La Vinotinto took down Germany (2-0), Vanuatu (7-0) and Mexico (1-0), Venezuela faced a tough Japan side in a match that nearly went to penalties had it not been for New York City FC defensive midfielder Yangel Herrera’s 108th minute winner.

The winner of the USA-Venezuela match will face either Portugal or Uruguay in the Semifinals. The other side of the bracket sees Italy meeting Zambia and Mexico confronting England. The first two Quarterfinal matches take place on June 4 in Jeonju and Daejeon, while the opposite side of the USA bracket will kick off from Suwon and Cheonan, respectively, on June 5.

2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup Quarterfinal Pairings:
June 4, 2 a.m. ET: Venezuela vs. USA; Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonju
June 4, 5 a.m. ET: Portugal vs. Uruguay; Daejeon World Cup Stadium, Daejeon
June 5, 4 a.m. ET: Italy vs. Zambia; Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon
June 5, 7 a.m. ET: Mexico vs. England; Cheonan Sports Complex, Cheonan

U.S. U-20 MNT Roster by Position (Club; Hometown)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jonathan Klinsmann (University of California; Newport Beach, Calif.), J.T. Marcinkowski (Georgetown; Alamo, Calif.), Brady Scott (De Anza Force; Petaluma, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (7): Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake; Salt Lake City, Utah), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur FC; Westcliff-on-Sea, England), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Aaron Herrera (University of New Mexico; Las Cruces, N.M.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC; Oviedo, Fla.), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union; Media, Pa.)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; Wappingers Falls, N.Y.), Luca de la Torre (Fulham FC; San Diego, Calif.), Derrick Jones (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Eryk Williamson (University of Maryland; Alexandria, Va.), Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal FC; Bethesda, Md.)*

FORWARDS (6): Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers; Bethesda, Md.), Lagos Kunga (Atlanta United FC Academy; Tucker, Ga.) Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake; Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Emmanuel Sabbi (Unattached; Columbus, Ohio), Josh Sargent (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; O'Fallon, Mo.), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake; Park City, Utah)

*Gedion Zelalem was forced out of the tournament due to an injury suffered in the opening match against Ecuador

Just four hours prior to the U-20 World Cup showdown between the USA and Venezuela, the senior Men’s National Teams of each nation will square off in an international friendly as the USA warms up for its World Cup Qualifying clashes against Trinidad and Tobago (June 8) and Mexico (June 11). Coverage of that USA-Venezuela clash begins at 10 p.m. ET on FS1, Univision  and Univision Deportes Network.

Currently serving as the manager for both the Venezuela U-20 National Team and the Senior Men’s National Team, Rafael Dudamel is in Korea Republic for the game with much higher-stakes.

Under the helm of head coach Tab Ramos, the USA has reached the FIFA U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals for a second-consecutive tournament, the first occurrence in program history.

Two years ago, the USA saw its tournament run end in heartbreaking fashion as they fell 6-5 on penalty kicks after playing eventual champions Serbia to a 0-0 draw.

After a Justen Glad strike was redirected by Josh Sargent in the 32nd minute against New Zealand, the USA forward was credited for the goal and immediately placed into the USA U-20 World Cup record books, tying Jozy Altidore, Eddie Johnson and Taylor Twellman for most goals at a U-20 World Cup with four. Sargent’s fourth of the tournament now sees him in a three-way tie with France’s Jean-Kévin Augustin and Venezuela’s Sergio Córdova as the competition’s leading goal scorer. The last (and only) U.S. player to win the tournament’s Golden Boot was Johnson, whose four goals in the 2003 edition tied him with two other players for the honor.

Venezuela’s Córdova remains in the hunt after collecting his four goals in La Vinotinto’s Group B games against Germany (1), Vanuatu (2) and Mexico (1).

The U.S. will receive a boost with the returns of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Aaron Herrera and Derrick Jones, who all missed the 6-0 win against New Zealand due to suspension. Carter-Vickers received a red card in the final group match against Saudi Arabia, while Herrera and Jones were shown their second yellow cards of the tournament in the match.

Head coach Tab Ramos addressed the return of the three players and their value to the team.

“I think it’s tremendous to have everyone available, really for the first time, in the World Cup,” Ramos said. “I always tell the group that we are only as strong as the weakest part of the team and I think that when you have every player on the team that is able to come in and contribute to wins, it makes the team stronger and stronger. So whoever we pick to play the next game, I’m sure those guys will be ready to go and give their best effort.”

After opening its first two Group F games at Incheon Stadium in Incheon, Korea Republic, the USA traveled to Daejeon World Cup Stadium in Daejeon to face Saudi Arabia in its final group game before returning to Incheon to take on New Zealand in the Round of 16. For its Quarterfinal showdown, the USA makes its way to Jeonju, where it will face Venezuela at Jeonju World Cup Stadium.

The Jeonju World Cup Stadium was completed in 2001. The hapjukseon, a traditional Korean handheld fan, is not only a symbol of Jeonju, but also the inspiration for the stadium’s roof design. This arena was built for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan and has a capacity of 41,785 spectators. It is currently home to K-League giants Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC and is known informally as “Fort Jeonju.”

One person on the U-20 MNT staff is quite familiar with Jeonju World Cup Stadium. On June 17, 2002, U-20 MNT assistant coach Brad Friedel started in goal for the USA’s World Cup Round of 16 match against regional rivals Mexico. In arguably the biggest win in U.S. MNT history, Friedel kept the USA’s first clean sheet at a World Cup since 1950 as the USA went on to defeat Mexico 2-0 and advance to the Quarterfinals – the team’s best finish since 1930.

For Venezuela, 2017 marks just their second FIFA U-20 World Cup appearance and first since 2009. By reaching the Quarterfinals, Venezuela has already surpassed its Round of 16 finish in their last appearances.

The U.S. is making its 15th appearance at a U-20 World Cup and ninth in the last 10 cycles.

The USA’s best performance came when they finished fourth at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship in Saudi Arabia. Future MNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller backstopped the side in that tournament, earning the Silver Ball as the competition’s second best player.

This year marks the USA’s sixth run to the Quarterfinals: 1989, 1993, 2003, 2007, 2015 and 2017. The USA will look to advance past the Quarterfinals for the second time in program history and first since 1989.

Six players from the USA’s 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup roster have previous youth World Cup experience. From the USA’s 2015 U-17 World Cup squad: defender Auston Trusty as well as midfielders Luca de la Torre and Tyler Adams took part in the USA’s trip to Chile. Returning from the USA’s 2015 U-20 World Cup Quarterfinal finish in New Zealand are defenders Erik Palmer-Brown, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and midfielder *Gedion Zelalem, who was forced out of the tournament after suffering a knee injury in the opening match vs. Ecuador.

The USA capped its qualifying run at the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship with five-straight wins. After opening the tournament with a 1-0 loss against Panama, the team went on to defeat Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis by matching 4-1 score lines, earning first place in Group B and advancement to the Classification Stage. There, the U-20 MNT used a 29th minute header from Erik-Palmer Brown to earn a 1-0 victory against rivals Mexico, breaking El Trí’s 20-match unbeaten streak at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. Ramos’ side followed up that victory with a 2-1 win against El Salvador to punch its ticket to Korea Republic and also advance to the tournament Final against Honduras, where the team won 5-4 on penalty kicks after a 0-0 deadlock.

Of the four CONCACAF teams to originally qualify for the World Cup, only the USA and Mexico advanced to the Quarterfinals. Honduras finished last in the ranking of third place teams, just missing out on landing one of top four third place spots that advance to the Round of 16, while Costa Rica was bounced out by England (2-1) in its Round of 16 match.

Venezuela qualified for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup by finishing third in the final stage of the 2017 South American Youth Football Championship, behind Uruguay and Ecuador.

Having been trialed recently by UEFA, a new sequence for penalties should a game still be tied after extra time  will be implemented for the first time at a FIFA youth tournament.

Rather than the traditional sequence, where players from opposing teams take penalties following each other (ABAB), the new process will see that the team taking the first penalty of each round of kicks alternates (ABBA). If both teams are still tied after each team has taken five penalties, the same ABBA order continues into sudden death penalty kicks.

First Five Penalty Kick Rounds:

Rd 1.    Rd 2.    Rd 3.    Rd. 4    Rd. 5

Traditional: Sequence:            AB        AB        AB        AB        AB
New Sequence:                       AB        BA        AB        BA        AB

FIFA referees will be using a video assistant referee (VAR) system for the first time at an underage event during the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

The tournament is set to play an important role in developing the future of the game with live VAR tests taking place at all 52 games and six venues, being used to support referees with ‘match-changing’ decisions. These include serious incidents such as goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity.

VARs will be given access to all broadcast feeds inside a video operations room, enabling them to provide information to the referee on the field of play in order to correct any clear mistakes in these situations.

The VARs will play a supporting role along with the assistant referees and the fourth official, but the referee will continue to make the first as well as the final decision on the field of play.

The system was first trialed at a FIFA tournament during the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016 last December and has since seen testing conducted in competitions around the world – with almost 20 set to take part in 2017.