Pressure to qualify for any FIFA tournament is always high, but recent failures on the United States side will add extra weight to upcoming efforts to breach the field for the upcoming FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey.
The tournament is this summer; qualifying for our region takes place in Mexico in February.
Tab Ramos, the dynamic U.S. international who presided over the American midfield through the 1990s, is in charge. The core of the team is currently in camp in Florida, with added lights being shined in their direction.
The United States failed to qualify for the previous under-20 World Cup; that cost then-coach Thomas Rongen his job with U.S. Soccer. That qualification blunder looked less like an anomaly and more like a disturbing trend when Caleb Porter’s U.S. under-23 team bombed out of Olympic qualifying last spring.
The United States will face Haiti and Costa Rica in under-20 World Cup qualifying group play – which is barely group play when just three teams are involved. That is, one loss could prove too much to overcome.
Two teams advance from there into what amounts to the money round, the tournament quarterfinals; quarterfinal winners move into the summer’s under-20 World Cup in Turkey.
For more of the nitty-gritty, this piece from Yanks Abroad has more of the names Ramos is counting on, and details some of the challenges he will face over the next two months.
Despite sitting at the top of the table in the Premier League, things are not going well for Manchester City.
Star striker and leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero suffered a torn hamstring while playing for Argentina, and now he is joined by David Silva on the injured list.
Silva lasted nine minutes in Spain’s EURO qualifying match against Luxembourg, forced off after taking a bad challenge from behind. Silva went down in pain and tried to play on, but asked for a substitution just minutes later.
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Spanish news outlet AS is reporting that Silva has suffered “lateral internal ligament damage in his right ankle,” and could face 2-3 weeks on the sidelines.
With Aguero set to miss at least a month, Silva’s injury could leave Manchester City without two of their top players in the coming weeks.
Silva has arguably been the best player in the Premier League this season, the quarterback of the City attack, which has scored a league-leading 19 goals through eight matches.
City travels to Old Trafford for the Manchester derby on October 25, which falls into that 2-3 week range for Silva’s recovery. In a match that could decide who sits top of the table, Manuel Pellegrini would be very shorthanded without Silva and Aguero.
Alejandro Bedoya will not feature for the United States in the CONCACAF playoff against Mexico on Saturday, and has been replaced on the roster by Bobby Wood.
Bedoya traveled to Los Angeles from his club team Nantes in France, but Jurgen Klinsmann has announced he will be unable to play after falling ill.
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Without Bedoya, Union Berlin midfielder Bobby Wood has been added to the USMNT side. Wood scored the first two goals of his international career this summer in wins over the Netherlands and Germany, and has scored four goals in ten matches for Union Berlin this season. Wood has been training with the U.S. camp throughout the week for the upcoming friendly against Costa Rica.
Bedoya has played well for the USMNT, discounting his short performance against Brazil in September. In that match, Klinsmann played Bedoya out of position against a potent Brazil attack, and he was substituted before halftime. However, playing in his more natural role as a winger or attacking midfielder, many believed Bedoya could be in line for a start against Mexico.