The FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 is all set to kick off on Saturday 20 May, with four matches in store: Venezuela-Germany and Vanuatu-Mexico in Group B, and Argentina-England and Korea Republic-Guinea in Group A. The USA will begin play on Monday against Ecuador. With six groups (USA is in Group C) the Top 2 in every four team group will advance and four wild card teams will join those twelve in the Round of 16 which will be played May 30 – June 1. Download the FIFA 2017 U20 World Cup Match Schedule to follow along as well.
As you can see from the calendar below for the first two days, all of the games start between midnight (tonight) and 6am. They are all being broadcast on either Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2 and are included in my Soccer on TV calendar.
Despite being without some big names including Kylian Mbappe, France are obvious contenders on the strength of their victory at the 2016 UEFA European U-19 Championship. Portugal have a habit of making their mark at youth tournaments and look to boast a good blend in their squad, with several experienced heads who can guide their somewhat rawer 17-year-old and 18-year-old talents. Uruguay, meanwhile, impressed with their miserly defence and prolific attack en route to winning the South American U-20 Championship for the first time in 36 years.
The potential dark horses
Hosts Korea Republic will be able to call on not just a gifted, high-energy side, but raucous support from an entire nation. Zambia claimed the African crown in style, their explosiveness in particular catching the eye. USA will be hopeful that their defensive solidity can take them a long way, as was the case in the CONCACAF qualifying competition, while Mexico will fancy their chances of sweeping aside all comers if star attacker Ronaldo Cisneros is on song.
Read more at FIFA.com on the tournament including a Players to Watch list that includes one American player.
|May 22||3 AM||U-20 MNT vs Ecuador||Incheon||FS1 & Telemundo|
|May 25||6 AM||U-20 MNT vs Senegal||Incheon||FS1 & Telemundo En Vivo|
|May 28||4 AM||U-20 MNT vs Saudi Arabia||Daejeon World Cup Stadium||FS1 & Telemundo|
|May 30||TBD||Round of 16 begins|
By the way, the use of Video Review will debut in Korea.
From an American standpoint, Head Coach Tab Ramos held a Press Conference earlier this week and covered a number of topics related to the tournament. Of special local interest, Josh Sargent…
On the players who weren’t part of qualifying, specifically Josh Sargent and Lagos Kunga:
“The guys who were not in qualifying that we have in the group here are our third goalkeeper Brady Scott – he’s a ’99 so he’s currently the number one keeper in our U-18 National Team. We’ve tried to do the best we can over the last couple of cycles to bring up as a third goalkeeper for different experiences what would potentially be our next number one goalkeeper for the following U-20 group. Then we have Derrick Jones, a player from Philadelphia Union that we wanted to include for qualifying but his FIFA paperwork took a little bit longer, so we couldn’t include him until now but he’s played for us before. We have Lagos Kunga, a younger player who’s coming through from Atlanta United, who has a lot of energy, speed, and can take players on. He’s an honest worker and has all the tools to make a lot of progress over the next one-to-two years. I think he can help us here, that’s why he’s on the team. Obviously, everybody knows Gideon. Gideon Zelalem was in the last U-20 World Cup and we welcome him back. He played a couple of games for us in October.
And finally, Josh Sargent. John Hackworth and I have been discussing Josh for the last six months, trying to provide better and more competitive opportunities for him from a National Team standpoint. We discussed even the possibility of him going to qualifying with the U-20’s, but at the time we thought we wanted to leave the U-17 team alone and have him go to the CONCACAF Championship to help the team qualify for the World Cup, and he did a great job with that. So now we moved him up, and he’s already been in January Camp with us this year, so we know Josh fairly well at this level and I think he’ll do a great job. In the end, whether he plays the U-17 World Cup after this or not, I think the possibility will be there but it’s sort of the same scenario with Christian Pulisic and us. Some players sometimes outgrow their age group and they have to move on. We have to remember that the Youth National Teams are here to provide a good development experience internationally and I think Josh will get that with us hopefully, so let’s see what the future brings.”
Read more at USsoccer.com