U.S. forward Tim Weah and Ecuador's Jhon Espinoza tangle in the 2019 Under-20 World Cup quarterfinals in Poland. Sergino Dest and Weah for the the USA and Jackson Porozo, Diego Palacios, Jose Cifuentes and Gonzalo Plata for Ecuador were among six players from that game won by Ecuador 2-1 who went on to go to the 2022 World Cup. Photo: Newspix/Imago/Icon Sportswire.* * * * *
The USA was drawn with Ecuador, Fiji and Slovakia in the 2023 Under-20 World Cup, which begins May 20 in Argentina.
It marks the third straight tournament in which the USA will have faced Ecuador. It has never met Fiji or Slovakia.
In 2019, the USA fell to Ecuador, 2-1, in the quarterfinals. It was the last U-20 World Cup held before Covid-19 shut down FIFA's youth world championships.
Two years earlier, the USA rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 down to tie Ecuador in its opening game. Two of the goals were scored by 17-year-old Josh Sargent
, who went on to lead the USA in scoring at both the 2017 U-17 and U-20 World Cups. • Ecuador.
Finished fourth at Conmebol 2023 Sudamericano Sub-20 though it won only two of nine games. Jimmy Bran
was fired after qualifying and replaced by Miguel Bravo
. The Mini-Tri will open training camp May 4 at the Casa de la Selección, the national team headquarters, in Quito, where it will play local competition. • Fiji.
Qualified for the U-20 World Cup for the second time in 22 tries. The 2023 U-20 World Cup will mark just the third time that two Oceania teams have participated in the tournament. The Junior Bula Boys will head to Australia this weekend for 12 days of training on the Gold Coast in Australia. • Slovakia.
Also qualified for the U-20 World Cup for the second time, beating Austria, 1-0, in the playoffs of the 2022 UEFA U-19 Championship it hosted. The Slovakia U-20s are coached by Albert Rusnak
, the father of the Seattle Sounders star of the same name. Slovakia lost to eventual champion Brazil in the 2003 round of 16. 2023 Under-20 World Cup groups:
Argentina, Uzbekistan, Guatemala, New Zealand. Group B.
USA, Ecuador, Fiji, Slovakia. Group C.
Senegal, Japan, Israel, Colombia. Group D.
Italy, Brazil, Nigeria, Dominican Republic. Group E.
Uruguay, Iraq, England, Tunisia. Group F.
France, South Korea, Gambia, Honduras. Note:
The top two finishers in each group and four third-place finishers advance to the round of 16.
The USA, the reigning Concacaf champion, is the only nation to reach the quarterfinals of the last three U-20 World Cups.
It was one of six seeds, drawn out of Pot 1 that also included Argentina, Uruguay, France, Senegal and Italy. Teams were placed into pots based on a ranking system based on play the last five U-20 World Cups.
The tournament was recently moved by FIFA to Argentina from Indonesia after regional governors and protesters demanded Israel’s U-20s be excluded, Argentina replaced Indonesia as the 24th team in the tournament. 2023 Under-20 World Cup venues:
• Estadio Único Diego Armando Maradona
(La Plata, 53,000 seats) • Estadio Único Madre de Ciudades
(Santiago del Estero, 42,000 seats) • Estadio Malvinas Argentinas
(Mendoza, 42,000 seats) • Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario
(San Juan, 25,286 seats)
The USA will play on its group games in San Juan, east of the Andes in western Argentina. The semifinals and final will be played in La Plata.
• The only American on the list of 81 match officials appointed to work the U-20 World Cup was VAR official Tim Ford.