USA get sweetheart U-20 World Cup draw

BY Kyle McCarthy • February 10, 2015

LOS ANGELES

The United States under-20 men’s national team will face host country New Zealand, Myanmar and Ukraine in Group A of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup later this year.

USMNT U-20 SCHEDULE

DATE OPPONENT LOCATION
May 30 Myanmar Northland Events Centre, Whangarei
June 2 New Zealand North Harbour Stadium, Auckland
June 5 Ukraine North Harbour Stadium, Auckland

U.S. under-20 coach Tab Ramos and his players learned their fate during a draw held in Auckland on Wednesday. The proceedings ultimately provided them with a kind route including a manageable group without any of the traditional powers and a minimal travel burden between two sites on North Island.

"It's always an exciting moment to know your group as the reality sets in for the World Cup stage," Ramos said in a statement. "New Zealand, Ukraine and Myanmar will certainly prove to be formidable opponents. At this phase, every country is a challenge, so we will need to be clicking on all cylinders tactically, physically and mentally. We made great strides during the qualifying tournament, and we're confident that with our deep pool of players that we can have a successful run at the World Cup."

The journey toward the knockout stage starts in Whangarei against Myanmar on May 30. Myanmar will take its first bow in any FIFA tournament after reaching the semifinals of the AFC U-19 Championship on home soil last year.

New Zealand offers perhaps the sternest examination in Auckland on June 2. The host nation often represents the OFC in major tournaments, but it qualified directly due to its duties this year. The Junior All Whites have not advanced past the group stage or won a match in their three previous appearances in the tournament.

Group play concludes with a date against Ukraine in Auckland three days later. Ukraine reached the round of 16 in its two previous appearances in 2001 and 2005. This domestic-based group will hope to match or surpass those feats after qualifying through a third-place finish in Group A at the UEFA Under-19 Championship in Hungary last year.

In order to reach the knockout stage, the Americans must finish first or second in the group or land in the top four out of the six third-placed teams. It is not a feat beyond this side after it secured a spot in the 24-team tournament with a third-place finish in the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament last month.

Ramos and his players will hope to meet or surpass the Americans’ best overall finish in the tournament (fourth place in 1989) in their 14th appearance in this tournament.

2015 FIFA UNDER-20 WORLD CUP -- GROUP STAGE DRAW

   
GROUP A New Zealand (OFC), Ukraine (UEFA), United States (CONCACAF), Myanmar (AFC)
GROUP B Argentina (CONMEBOL), Panama (CONCACAF), CAF 3 (CAF), Austria (UEFA)
GROUP C Qatar (AFC), Colombia (CONMEBOL), Portugal (UEFA), CAF 4 (CAF)
GROUP D Mexico (CONCACAF), CAF 2 (CAF), Uruguay (CONMEBOL), Serbia (UEFA)
GROUP E CAF Champion (CAF), Brazil (CONMEBOL), North Korea (AFC), Hungary (UEFA)
GROUP F
Germany (UEFA), Fiji (OFC), Uzbekistan (AFC), Honduras (CONCACAF)

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