USA LOOKS TO TAKE ANOTHER STEP AGAINST FIJI: After Jonathan Gómez netted a thrilling goal at the death to secure three points in the USA’s opening World Cup match against Ecuador, the U.S. U-20 Men’s Youth National Team will face Fiji on Tuesday, May 23 (2 p.m. ET; FS2, Universo). With a victory, the U.S. will secure a place in the knockout stage. The top two teams in each of the six groups, plus the four best third-placed teams move on to the Round of 16.
It’s the first meeting between the U.S. and Fiji at the U-20 World Cup as the Junior Bula Boys are making their second appearance at the tournament. While the U.S. earned a thrilling 1-0 victory vs. Ecuador to kick off the competition, Fiji struggled in a 4-0 loss to Slovakia.
The FIFA U-20 World Cup will be broadcast in English on Fox Sports platforms and on the Fox Sports app with corresponding authentication. Matches will be broadcast in Spanish on Telemundo platforms and the Telemundo app.
|Matches Played||WWins||DDraws||LLosses||Goals For||Goals Against||GDGoal Differential||PPoints|
USA 1, Ecuador 0
Slovakia 4, Fiji 0
2023 FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; HOMETOWN; U-20 CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Alex Borto (Fulham/ENG; South Plainfield, N.J.; 2/0), 12-Antonio Carrera (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas; 4/0), 1-Gaga Slonina (Chelsea/ENG; Addison, Ill.; 6/0)
DEFENDERS (7): 17-Justin Che (Hoffenheim/GER; Dallas, Texas; 7/0), 5-Brandan Craig (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.; 11/1), 14-Marcus Ferkranus (LA Galaxy; Santa Clarita, Calif.; 11/0), 13-Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad/ESP; Keller, Texas; 7/1), 2-Michael Halliday (Orlando City SC; Apopka, Fla.; 8/0), 3-Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United FC; Atlanta, Ga.; 6/0), 4-Joshua Wynder (Louisville City FC; Louisville, Ky.; 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 6-Daniel Edelman (New York Red Bulls; Warren, N.J.; 11/0), 10-Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake; Sunnyvale, Calif.; 17/4), 8-Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union; Middle Village, N.Y.; 17/2), 20-Rokas Pukstas (Hajduk Split/CRO; Stillwater, Okla.; 12/1), 15-Niko Tsakiris (San Jose Earthquakes; Saratoga, Calif.; 6/3), 18-Obed Vargas (Seattle Sounders FC; Anchorage, Alaska; 5/0), 16-Owen Wolff (Austin FC; Austin, Texas; 4/1)
FORWARDS (4): 9-Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes; Ceres, Calif.; 7/2), 11-Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg/GER; South Riding, Va.; 6/2), 7-Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.; 16/7), 19-Darren Yapi (Colorado Rapids; Denver, Colo.; 4/0)
STOPPAGE-TIME STUNNER TO START: The U.S. kicked off its World Cup campaign with a strong performance against Ecuador, capped with a dramatic late game-winning goal from Jonathan Gómez for a 1-0 win and three points. While the U-20s were on the front foot for most of the game, Ecuador threatened on the counter and on set pieces. Obed Vargas cleared one of La Tri’s most promising chances off the line in the 32nd minute. The U.S. dominated for long stretches after halftime, and midfielder Diego Luna nearly netted the opener in the 57th, pouncing on an Ecuador gaffe but touching it barely wide. As the USA knocked on the door throughout the second half, the breakthrough came in the second minute of stoppage time. Midfielder Owen Wolff found Gómez at the top of the box, where he rocketed a shot to the top right corner to clinch the win.
ROUGH OPENER FOR JUNIOR BULA BOYS: Making their second appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, Fiji struggled out of the gate, falling 4-0 to Slovakia in its opening match. The Sokolíci went up 2-0 within the first 25 minutes on goals from Adam Gazi and Mate Szolgai and the Junior Bula Boys were able to weather the storm until the 70th when Artur Gajdos and Timotej Jambor doubled the lead over the course of nine minutes. Slovakia outshot Fiji 34-1 on the day, including 13 shots on goal to 0 for the island nation.
USA ROSTER NOTES
- Players born on or after Jan. 1, 2003, are age-eligible for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Head coach Mikey Varas selected 10 players born in 2003, eight born in 2004 and three born in 2005.
- The three players born in 2005 -- defender Joshua Wynder as well as midfielders Niko Tsakiris and Obed Vargas -- are also age-eligible for the 2025 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
- The roster features players from 18 clubs, including 11 from Major League Soccer, led by three players from the Philadelphia Union and two from the San Jose Earthquakes.
- Six players are based abroad: two each in England and Germany and one player each in Croatia and Spain.
- A total of 13 states are represented on the roster, with four players hailing from both California and Texas. A native of Anchorage, Vargas is a rare World Cup roster selection from Alaska.
- Six players have earned call-ups with the full USMNT, including four who have already made their debut with the senior squad. Forward Cade Cowell (three caps) and defender Jonathan Gómez (two caps) lead the charge, while goalkeeper Gaga Slonina made his debut last January against Serbia. More recently, defender Caleb Wiley picked up his first cap as a substitute in April’s Allstate Continental Clásico against Mexico.
- Defenders Justin Che and Wynder have been called into USMNT camp and are still in search of their full international debut.
- The USA qualified for the 2023 U-20 World Cup as it took home its third straight confederation crown at last summer’s Concacaf U-20 Championship in Honduras.
- Forward Quinn Sullivan was named to the tournament Best XI after netting six goals in Honduras. Sullivan and goalkeeper Antonio Carrera, defenders Brandan Craig, Marcus Ferkranus and Michael Halliday, midfielders Daniel Edelman, Diego Luna, Jack McGlynn, Rokas Pukstas and Tsakiris and forward Cowell all return from that World Cup qualifying squad.
- Every player on the roster has been capped at the U-20 level, led by Luna and McGlynn’s 17 appearances.
- Sullivan is the squad’s leading scorer with seven international goals, six coming at World Cup qualifying.
- Four players have appeared in eight of the 10 training camps held since the cycle kicked off in November 2021: Ferkranus, Luna, McGlynn and Sullivan.
USA VS. FIJI
- Tuesday marks the first meeting between the USA and Fiji at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
- Defender Josh Wynder picked up a yellow card vs. Ecuador. Should he be shown a second caution against Fiji, he will be suspended for the group stage finale vs. Slovakia.
- This year marks Fiji’s second appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup after debuting at New Zealand 2015. After not qualifying for the first 19 editions of the competition, the Junior Bula Boys have participated in two of the last four.
- In 2015, Fiji finished fourth in its group behind Germany, Uzbekistan and Honduras. While the island nation was tied with Uzbekistan and Honduras with three points, it narrowly finished last based on goal differential.
- The USA is 2-0-0 vs. opponents from Oceania with a plus-10 goal differential, topping New Zealand 4-0 in 2015 and 6-0 in 2017.
- Sixteen players on Fiji’s 21-man roster are based domestically in Fiji, with five coming from Ba FC, the nation’s most successful club. Five are based abroad in Australia, New Zealand (two each) and England.
- English coach Bobby Mimms spent 20 years playing professionally as a goalkeeper in his home country, including a Premier League title with Blackburn Rovers in 1995. He has also worked as.a goalkeeper coach for Bangladesh and Fiji’s senior national teams.
FIJI – 2023 FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Aydin Mustahib (Auckland United/NZL), 20-Isikeli Sevenaia (Nadroga), 13-Joji Vuakaca (Labasa)
DEFENDERS (7): 17-Mohammed Fataul (Ba), 16-Geary Gubu (Tailevu Naitasiri), 7-Arshad Khan (Macarthur Rams/AUS), 8-Josh Laqeretabua (Charlton Athletic/ENG), 18-Samuela Navoce (Ba), 2-Peter Ravai (Rewa), 5-Sakiusa Saqiri (Tavua)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 4-Abdullah Aiyas (Bonnyrigg White Eagles/AUS), 10-Nabil Begg (Ba), 6-Thoams Dunn (Navua), 12-Clarence Hussain (Labasa), 3-Eneriko Matau (Nadi), 15-Sailasa Ratu (Tavua), 11-Gulam Razool (Ba)
FORWARDS (4): Faazil Ali (Ba), 19-Junior Dekedeke (Lautoka), 14-Apisal Rabuka (Coastal Spirit/NZL), Sterling Vasconcellos (Laukoka)
HOW THEY GOT HERE
- Fiji secured Oceania’s second World Cup berth with a runner-up finish at the 2022 OFC U-19 Championship.
- In the group stage, Fiji topped Tonga 3-0, drew host Tahiti 0-0 and was awarded a 3-0 victory over Papua New Guinea due to forfeit.
- In the knockout stage, Fiji defeated Samoa 4-1 in the quarterfinals and edged New Caledonia 1-0 in the semis to punch its World Cup ticket with a 75th-minute goal from midfielder Nabil Begg.
- The Junior Bula Boys fell 3-0 to New Zealand in the championship match.
U-20 WORLD CUP HISTORY
The United States has qualified for 17 of 23 all-time U-20 World Cups, tied for second-most all-time with Argentina. The biennial tournament was staged for the first time in 1977 and Tunisia hosted the inaugural event, originally held as the FIFA World Youth Championship before becoming the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007. The USA’s first qualification came at the 1981 tournament, which was held in Australia.
The USA has made it out of the group stage 11 times at the competition with the high watermark coming in 1989. Led by future legendary USMNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller, the U.S. finished fourth place in Saudi Arabia that year. Keller took home the Silver Ball at the tournament, while fellow future senior team players Mike Burns, Neil Covone and Chris Henderson also played key roles. While the U-20s advanced from group play with just one win, the USA took down Iraq in the quarterfinals before falling in extra time to Nigeria in the semis.