[CONCACAF UNDER-20 CHAMPIONSHIP] The USA will play Costa Rica and Haiti in group play at the 2013 Concacaf U-20 Championship, which will run Feb. 18-March 3,
2013 at two venues in Puebla, Mexico.
The top two teams from each of the four groups advancing to the all-important quarterfinals to be played Feb. 26 and 27. The four winners will qualify for the 2013 U-20 World Cup June 21-July 13 in Turkey.
The Concacaf U-20 semifinals are scheduled for March 1, with the final and third-place game slated for March 3.
"It's not easy, but it's never easy," U.S. U-20 coach Tab Ramos said of the draw. "We have to prepare well. We have good opponents in our group. Costa Rica has been to the last three U-20 World Cups, so that's a tough opponent to have. I just went down to scout Haiti in Jamaica, so I know them well and I've watched them play. They are very good also, but we will be prepared."
The USA failed to qualify for the 2011 U-20 World Cup, dropping a 2-1 decision to host Guatemala in the quarterfinals.
"I want to make sure that in particular for this group, we have been and will continue to spell out how important it would be for them to participate in the Under-20 World Cup and to showcase themselves to the world," Ramos said. "None of that can happen if we don't have a great tournament here [in Mexico]. We won't look past what we have in front of us and, as everyone says, we will take it one game at a time."
The other three groups:
Group B: Canada, Nicaragua and Cuba.
Group C: Jamaica, Panama and Puerto Rico.
Group D: Mexico, El Salvador and Curacao.