[CONCACAF UNDER-20 CHAMPIONSHIP]
The USA begins play at the the 2009 CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship Friday when it faces Jamaica Friday at Dwight Yorke
Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago. The Americans have qualified for the last six U-20 world championships, but they will face three ambitious national youth teams in Jamaica, Honduras and El Salvador.
Jamaica is coming off a final training camp in Florida, where it beat Canada's U-20s, 1-0, and tied a Caribbean-American Soccer Association all-star team, 0-0. Following the Florida
camp, the Young Boyz added Reneil Sappleton
of English club Leicester City and Amani Walker
of UC Irvine.
Walker, who attended high school in San Diego and played for the San Diego Surf, was one of several U.S. residents Jamaica looked at during the Florida camp.
The nucleus of Jamaica's
squad comes from the Sporting Central Academy.
Honduras qualified on Monday with a 3-1 win over St. Vincent & Grenadines in a playoff.
The Catrachos are led by captain
, who plays for Concacaf Champions League quarterfinalist Marathon. Other key players on Coach Emilio Umanzor's squad are Mario Martinez
of Real Espana, Roger Rojas
and Erick Andino
of Olimpia, Julio Ocampo
of Real Juventud and Esdras Padilla
El Salvador has been training in Trinidad &
Tobago, where it beat (1-0) and tied (1-1) T&T's U-20s in a pair of friendlies. Its top player is midfielder Jaime Alas
, who plays in Argentine club River
Plate's youth system.
The top two teams in the four-team group advance to the semifinals and qualify for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt.
Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and
Trinidad & Tobago are the four teams in Group B.
Many Concacaf teams are looking at the U.S. youth and college ranks for players, and host T&T brought in a pair of Floridians Bradley Welch
(Rollins College) and Jesse Fullerton
(FIU), who both attended Cypress Bay High School. U.S. SCHEDULE: March 6
Jamaica March 8
Honduras March 10