Commentary

Seeded USA gets favorable draw for U-20 World Cup

By Mike Woitalla

The USA, which earned a seed for the 2017 World Cup, was drawn into Group F, with Ecuador, Senegal and Saudi Arabia. Of the three first-round foes, only Senegal, a 2015 semifinalist, has ever advanced past the round of 16 in previous U-20 World Cups.

"We are proud to have earned a group top seed for the 2017 U-20 World Cup," U.S. coach Tab Ramos said. "As Concacaf Champions and 2015 U-20 World Cup quarterfinalists, we have put ourselves in a great position for this tournament. Our youth national team program has been on an upward trend and we need to continue to push forward in Korea Republic. This was a difficult draw, but we are ready for the challenge. Our plan is to treat each game like a final, so our preparation now shifts to Ecuador."

The USA, which faces South American runner-up Ecuador on May 22, Africa runner-up Senegal May 25 and Asia runner-up Saudi Arabia May 28, qualified by winning the Concacaf U-20 Championship in early March, beating Haiti, St. Kitts & Nevis, Mexico, El Salvador and, in the final, Honduras.

The USA lost in the quarterfinals on PKs at the 2015 U-20 World Cup to eventual champion Serbia, which did not qualify for the 2017 U-20 World Cup. The USA’s best finish in the biennial tournament launched in 1977 was fourth place in 1989 in Saudi Arabia.


Diego Maradona helped out at the draw in Suwon.

Group A
South Korea, Guinea, Argentina, England

Group B
Venezuela, Germany, Vanuatu, Mexico

Group C
Zambia, Portugal, Iran, Costa Rica

Group D
South Africa, Japan, Italy, Uruguay

Group E
France, Honduras, Vietnam, New Zealand

Group F
Ecuador, USA, Saudi Arabia, Senegal

USA OPPONENTS
Ecuador
Previous appearances: 2001 (round of 16), 2011 (round of 16).
2015 U-20 World Cup: did not qualify
Qualifying: Finished runner-up as host to Uruguay. Its nine games included two wins over Colombia (4-3 and 3-0), a 3-0 rout of Argentina and a 2-2 draw with Brazil. As host, Ecuador had an edge by playing its games at high-altitude venues.
Key player: Midfielder Bryan Cabezas moved to Italy's Atalanta last year after making 68 appearances for Independiente del Valle, for which he played in the 2016 Copa Libertadores final. It finished runner-up to Colombia's Atlético Nacional.

Senegal
Previous appearances: 2015 (semifinals).
2015 U-20 World Cup: Finished third in Group C with a loss to Portugal (3-0), a tie with Colombia (1-1) and a win over Qatar (2-1). Beat Ukraine on PKs in the round of 16 after a 1-1 tie, beat Uzbekistan, 1-0, in the quarterfinals, and fell to eventual runner-up Brazil, 5-0, in the semifinals.
Qualifying: Fell to host Zambia, 2-0, in the final after wins over Guinea, Cameroon, South Africa and a tie with Sudan.
Key player:  Midfielder Krepin Diatta, who was Man of the Match in two qualifying games, signed with Norwegian Tippeligaen club  Sarpsborg 08 FF last month.

Saudi Arabia
Previous appearances: 1985 (group stage), 1987 (group stage), 1989 (group stage), 1993 (group stage), 1999 (group stage), 2003 (group stage), 2011 (round of 16).
2015 U-20 World Cup: did not qualify.
Qualifying: Fell in the final of the Bahrain-hosted Asian championship to Japan on PKs after a scoreless tie. Beat South Korea, Iraq and Iran en route to the final.
Key player:  Captain Sami Al Naji, who has made seven appearance for his club Al Nassr in the Saudi top flight league, was the leading scorer at the Asian championship with four goals.

Complete 2017 U-20 World Cup Schedule

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U.S. U-16 girls head to California camp

Coach Jaime Frias’ second camp of 2017 for the U.S. U-16 girls national team takes place March 18-25 at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center in San Diego with 24 players born in 2002. Fifteen of the players attended the first camp of the year in January.

U.S. U-16 girls national team
GOALKEEPERS (3): *Mia Justus (PDA; North Brunswick, N.J.), Stephanie Sparkowski (Jacksonville FC; Fleming Island, Fla.), Alia Skinner (East Meadow SC; East Meadow N.Y.).
DEFENDERS (8): *Devi Dudley (Utah Celtic FC; American Fork, Utah), Maya Evans (De Anza Force; Millbrae, Calif.), Katherine Groff (CASL; Raleigh, N.C.), Smith Hunter (Seattle Reign Academy; Seattle, Wash.), Emily Mason (PDA Storm; Flemington, N.J.), Emily Matthews (Premier Soccer Group; Fraser, Mich.) *Makenna Morris (Bethesda SC; Germantown, Md.), *Dasia Torbert (Tophat SC; Buford, Ga.).
MIDFIELDERS (6): *Josephine Aulicino (Michigan Hawks; Northville, Mich.), *Aislyn Crowder (Hawaii Rush; Mililani, Hawaii), *Talia DellaPeruta (Tophat SC; Cumming, Ga.), *Alexa Gonzalez (Arsenal FC; Riverside, Calif.), *Isabel Loza (Arsenal FC; La Mirada, Calif.), *Michaela Rosenbaum (Santa Rosa United; Rohnert Park, Calif.).
FORWARDS (7): Michelle Cooper (Michigan Hawks; Clarkston, Mich.), *Kailyn Dudukovich (Cincinnati United; West Chester, Ohio), *Samantha Kroeger (World Class FC; West Milford, N.J.), *Kacey Lawrence (Connecticut FC; Monroe, Conn.), *Aryssa Mahrt (FC Wisconsin Eclipse; Wauwatosa, Wisc.), *Trinity Rodman (SoCal Blues; Newport Beach, Calif.), Joyelle Washington (Michigan Hawks; Canton, Mich.).

* Returnees from January camp

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U.S. U-16 boys prep for France in Florida

A 24-player U.S. U-16 boys national team squad trained under Coach Shaun Tsakiris  March 5-13 in Bradenton, Florida. The team was preparing for the April 11-17 Mondial Minimes Tournament in Montaigu, France, where the USA will face Belgium and Japan in first-round Group D play. Also at Mondial Minimes Tournament: France, Cameroon, China, Brazil, Denmark, Morocco, England, Mexico and Portugal.

Ten of the players are returnees from the U-16s' early February trip to Argentina with a 21-player roster.

U.S. U-16 boys national team
GOALKEEPERS (2): Michael Collodi (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Dane Jacomen (Pittsburgh Riverhounds; Pittsburgh, Pa.).
DEFENDERS (10): *Julian Araujo (Santa Barbara SC; Lompoc, Calif.), Nico Benalcazar (New York City FC; Wilton, Conn.), Edward Berumen (Sacramento Republic FC; Salida, Calif.), Eduardo Blancas (Real Salt Lake; Napa, Calif.), Justin Haak (New York City FC; Brooklyn, N.Y.), *John Hilton (LA Galaxy; Long Beach, Calif.), Alexsi Morel (New York City FC; Huntington Station, N.Y.), Eben Noverr (Colorado Rapids; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Cole Rovegno (Sacramento Republic FC; Folsom, Calif.), *Nathan Toledo (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Oscar Cervantes (IMG Academy; Indio, Calif.), *Cameron Duke (Sporting KC; Olathe, Kan.), *Nelson Martinez (DC United; Woodbridge, Va.), *Matko Milijevic (A.A. Argentinos Juniors; Buenos Aires, Argentina), *Marcelo Palomino (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas), Thomas Roberts (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas).
FORWARDS (6): Luis Arriaga (Real Salt Lake; Santa Rosa, Calif.), *Jordan Bender (Orlando City SC; Lake Mary, Fla.), Azriel Gonzalez (Seattle Sounders FC; Renton, Wash.), *Ben Ortiz (Real Salt Lake; Orem, Utah), *Gabe Segal (Bethesda SC; Bethesa, Md.), Scotty Taylor (New York Red Bulls; Millburn, N.J.).

* Returnees from February trip to Argentina.

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Ice bath: New study doesn't find benefits

Gretchen Reynolds in The New York Time: Slipping into a bathtub filled with frigid water after a hard workout has long been routine for many athletes, who have believed that the chilly temperatures will reduce inflammation in their tired muscles and help their bodies to physiologically recover more quickly from strenuous exercise. But a new study finds otherwise, reports Reynolds, citing research by Queensland University of Technology in Australia that appeared in the Journal of Physiology. Cellular evidence suggests that a cold bath may do little for heavily exercised muscles except chill them. Dev Mishra wrote about the ice bath fad for the Youth Soccer Insider last July: Taking the ice bath plunge for muscle soreness -- helpful or not?

1 comment about "Seeded USA gets favorable draw for U-20 World Cup".
  1. Kevin Sims from GASTON DAY SCHOOL, March 16, 2017 at 12:48 p.m.

    Beware the "favorable draw" mentality. These teams earned their spots with superior play. Nothing that happened in the past sheds light on the upcoming tournament.

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