The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team has been drawn with Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and U.S. Virgin Islands into Group A of the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship. The draw occurred Thursday morning on at the Concacaf headquarters in Miami, Fla., with the qualifying tournament for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup set to take place from Nov. 1-21, at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
The Concacaf U-20 Championship format features five groups of six teams and one group of five teams. The 2018 tournament marks Concacaf’s largest Under-20 World Cup qualifying tournament ever, with 34 Under-20 member associations participating.
Based on the Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Ranking, the top six ranked teams were seeded into position one of each group, while the remaining 28 teams were distributed in five pots, also based on ranking:
Seeded Teams (group and position)
United States (A1), Mexico (B1), Honduras (C1), Panama (D1) Costa Rica (E1) and El Salvador (F1)
Remaining Teams (grouped by Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Ranking)
Pot 1: Cuba, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti, Canada and Jamaica
Pot 2: Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Curacao, Aruba and Suriname
Pot 3: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia and Guyana
Pot 4: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Cayman Islands, Barbados, Belize and Dominica
Pot 5: U.S. Virgin Islands, Martinique, Sint Maarten and Saint Martin
Due to the uneven number of Under-20 member associations (34), as the lowest of the top six seeded teams, El Salvador’s Group F and Costa Rica’s Group E did not have a sixth team from Pot 5 drawn into its group. This results in only four games of first-round group play for all teams in Group E and F, instead of five games to be played by each team in groups A-D.
Following group play, the top team in each of the six groups will advance to the qualification stage, where they will be divided into two groups of three. After a second edition of round-robin play, the two group winners plus the second-place finishers will qualify for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Additionally, the two groups winners will advance to the tournament’s final to determine the regional champion.
2018 CONCACAF U-20 Championship Groups:
Group A: USA, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, U.S. Virgin Islands
Group B: Mexico, Jamaica, Aruba, Nicaragua, Grenada, Saint Martin
Group C: Honduras, Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Belize, Sint Maarten
Group D: Panama, Canada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique
Group E: Costa Rica, Haiti, Bermuda, St. Lucia, Barbados
Group F: El Salvador, Guatemala, Curacao, Guyana, Cayman Islands
The USA returns to the confederation tournament as defending champions after capturing its first title at the U-20 level in March of 2017, defeating Honduras via penalty kicks in the final. The team went on to reach the quarterfinals of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic, where it lost to eventual tournament runners-up Venezuela 2-1 in extra time after finishing 0-0 in regulation. The USA’s run to the quarterfinals started with a top place finish in Group F after drawing Ecuador (3-3) and Saudi Arabia (1-1) and defeating Senegal (1-0). In the Round of 16, the USA dominated New Zealand 6-0 to secure its spot in the quarterfinals.
The U.S. has qualified for 15 FIFA World Youth Championships/FIFA U-20 World Cups. The USA’s best World Cup finish was a fourth-place performance at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship in Saudi Arabia.