The U-20 World Cup is underway in Egypt and the USA starts play on Saturday against European champion Germany.
Launched in 1977, the U-20 World Cup is FIFA's oldest youth world championship and has become famous for introducing to the world superstars of the future. To name a few: Diego Maradona, Enzo Francescoli, Dunga, Davor Suker, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos, Thierry Henry, Xavi, Ronaldinho, Michael Owen and Lionel Messi.
Of the 23 players on the U.S. roster at the senior World Cup in 2006, 15 had played in a U-20 World Cup.
At the 2007 World Cup, the U.S. team, which featured Michael Bradley, Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore, celebrated a 2-1 upset over Brazil in group play and finished seventh. The Americans' best ever finish was fourth, in 1989, with a Bob Gansler-coached team that featured goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who won the Silver Ball as runner-up MVP.
Coach Thomas Rongen's U.S. roster for the 2009 U-20 World Cup includes seven MLS players, eight collegians and three foreign-based players.
All three U.S. first-round games will be televised live:
Saturday, Sept. 26 vs. Germany 10 a.m. ET ESPN Classic/10 am ET/PT Galavision
Tuesday, Sept. 29 vs. Cameroon 12:45 p.m. ET ESPN2
Friday, Oct. 2 vs. Korea Republic 12:45 p.m. ET ESPN2
In total, the ESPN networks will broadcast seven games live and Galavision will air 12 games live or delayed. In addition, all games will be available live online at espn360.com. Click HERE for complete TV schedule.
Here's a look at some of the stars who are on display in Egypt ...
SERGIO ASENJO (Spain). Considered the top young goalie in Spain, Asenjo is already a starter at Atletico Madrid and the heir apparent to Iker Casillas on the national team.
DOUGLAS COSTA (Brazil). The playmaker has often been compared to Ronaldinho and is the most highly touted on a team comprised entirely of Brazilian-based players. Manchester United is reported to covet Douglas Costa at the right price. He has been outstanding in infrequent spells with Gremio, but the Porto Alegre club has placed a $30 million price tag on him.
JAMIE HOLLAND (Australia). The 20-year-old midfielder is one of the few players at Egypt '09 to have played at the senior national team level. Holland played for the Socceroos in their successful World Cup 2010 qualifying campaign. He joined Dutch champion AZ from the Newcastle Jets in January.
RABIU IBRAHIM (Nigeria). The 18-year-old midfielder helped Nigeria win the 2007 Under-17 World Cup in South Korea and will be one of the key players for the Flying Eagles in Egypt. He spent last season in Sporting Lisbon's youth academy but has been loaned this season to Portuguese third division club Real SC. After the U-20 World Cup, he could join Nigeria's national team, which finds itself in a tight race for a berth in the 2010 World Cup.
VLADIMIR KOMAN (Hungary). Born in Ukraine and raised in Hungary, he made his Serie A debut for Sampdoria at the age of 18. He has since been loaned out, first to Avellino last season and more recently to Bari, where he will spend the 2009-10 season. Koman is part of a promising Hungarian team that was a semifinalist at the 2008 European U-19 championships.
RANSFORD OSEI (Ghana). Won the Golden Ball (MVP) and Golden Shoe (top scorer) as the leading scorer at the 2009 African Youth Championship, which the Black Satellites won. He has bounced around clubs since leaving Kessben at the age of 17. He was denied work permit to play for Poland's Legia Warsaw and recently joined Dutch club FC Twente on loan from Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv.
MOHAMED TALAAT (Egypt). The pressure will be on Talaat and the other young Pharoahs when they open the tournament Thursday in Alexandria. A sellout crowd of 80,000 is expected. Talaat played briefly in the United Arab Emirates before joining Al Ahly last season. The 20-year-old forward has been compared to national team star Mido for his talent -- and moodiness.