USA handed potentially tricky path to UAE

[CONCACAF UNDER-17 CHAMPIONSHIP] The U.S. under-17 national team faces a potentially tricky path to this fall's Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates as it was drawn in the same half of the bracket with Mexico, winner of the world championship two years ago in this category. The USA will open against Haiti -- just like it did in the under-20 qualifying -- April 7 and then play Guatemala April 11. Both matches will take place at Panama City's Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

The tournament consists of four groups of three teams each, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the quarterfinals, and the four semifinal winners qualifying for the U-17 World Cup.

The other groups:

Group A: host Panama, Barbados and Jamaica.
Group B: Canada, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago;
Group D: Mexico, Honduras and Cuba.

"Our players are aware that we are facing quality opposition in Haiti and Guatemala," said U.S. U-17 head coach Richie Williams in a statement. "We respect those two teams and know it won't be an easy path through the group, but we are ready to play our game and take on the responsibility of qualifying for the World Cup."

Groups C and D will play all their matches at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez on April 7, 9 and 11. Group A and B will play at the Estadio Muquita Sanchez on April 6, 8 and 10.

The USA will play one of the top two teams from Group D if it advances to the quarterfinals -- the runner-up if it wins Group C; the winner if it finishes second in Group C.

Haiti qualified for the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship by finishing in first place in Group 3 of Caribbean qualifying with wins over Curaçao 4-1, Dominican Republic 3-1 and St. Lucia 3-0.

Guatemala was the third-place team from Central America behind first-place Honduras and second-place Costa Rica. In qualifying, Guatemala tied 0-0 with Nicaragua, defeated El Salvador 3-2, tied with Honduras 1-1 and fell 2-0 to Costa Rica.

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