The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team begins qualification for the 2019 U20 World Cup this week, with a new format laying between the USA and a repeat title-winning challenge at the Concacaf Championship
IMG Academy in Florida is set to host 34 teams, as there was no qualification for the final edition of the tournament. That creates a set of hurdles the United States faces unlike anything they’ve seen before at this age group.
“I think it provides an opportunity for all countries to be competitive, to play against the best teams,” U.S. U20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos told ussoccer.com this week. “And without a doubt it will make it the most difficult tournament we’ve been involved in.”
Ramos named his 20-man roster last week as the team prepares for five games in the span of nine days, starting on November 1. The competition of the format is broken down into two group stages. With 34 teams involved, there are four groups of six teams each and two groups of five teams at the start.
The U.S. sits in Group A, and plays five matches, with only the first-place side advancing to the qualification stage – which is a second group stage. Two three-team groups (Groups G and H) will decide who advances to next year’s tournament in Poland. The first and second place teams of that group secured spots, and the first-place teams of those groups meet in the title game.
Group A Schedule (all matches streaming on CONCACAF Go; all times listed EST)
Puerto Rico – Nov. 1, 5 p.m.
U.S. Virgin Islands – Nov. 3, 6 p.m.
Trinidad & Tobago – Nov. 5, 7:45 p.m.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 8 p.m.
Suriname – Nov. 9, 5:30 p.m.