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Global Nov 30, 2016

USA draws Group B for CONCACAF U-20 Men’s Championship

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CHICAGO (Via U.S. Soccer) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team has been drawn with Haiti, Panama and Saint Kitts and Nevis in Group B of the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship.

The draw occurred Tuesday in San Jose, Costa Rica, with the qualification tournament for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup taking place from Feb. 17 – March 5, at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose and the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in Tibas.

The U.S. opens the group stage against Panama (Feb. 18), followed by Haiti (Feb. 21) before finishing up against Saint Kitts and Nevis (Feb. 24).

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The top four finishing teams in the tournament will automatically qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.

After the initial group stage, the top two teams in each of the three groups will advance to a second round, featuring two groups with three teams each. In the second group stage, the top two finishers in each group qualify for the U-20 World Cup, with the first-place teams in each group playing for the tournament championship.

“In general, the draw is a good draw,” U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos said. “Obviously, we always have to consider that these are all young players. In terms of the teams we drew this time, Panama we can’t forget was probably the best team in the last U-20 qualifying tournament, so we know they’re going to be strong. Haiti is always difficult because they are a team with a lot of athletic and skillful players, so they can get you in a number of different ways. Saint Kitts and Nevis is obviously an up-and-comer. I frankly don’t know a whole lot about them except that they have changed a lot in their development and now they’re getting some dividends from that.”

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2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship Groups:

  • Group A: Mexico, Antigua and Barbuda, Honduras, Canada
  • Group B: USA, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Haiti
  • Group C: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Bermuda, Trinidad & Tobago

USA’s Group B Schedule:

  • Saturday, Feb. 18: Panama, 4 p.m. ET
  • Tuesday, Feb. 21: Haiti, 5:30 p.m. ET
  • Friday, Feb. 24: Saint Kitts and Nevis, 5:30 p.m. ET

The CONCACAF U-20 Championship format features three groups of four teams. As host, Costa Rica was seeded at the top of one of the three groups while the U.S. and Mexico were also assigned to the top of the remaining two groups, based on the co-efficient developed by CONCACAF that determined the two nations that have fared the best in recent Under-20 championships.

The U.S. finished third at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Jamaica, while Mexico and Panama finished first and second, respectively. The U.S. was awarded the first seed in the playoff stage and went on to defeat El Salvador 2-0 to clinch the third of four automatic spots in the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, where it lost to eventual champions Serbia on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. has qualified for 14 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.