U-20 World Cup

AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

U.S. readies for loaded France at U-20 World Cup

Leave a comment

It’s the day any U-20 World Cup hopeful wanted to put off for as long as possible: the date with France.

Though Mali did its best to help the United States avoid that moment, the Baby Yanks will have to duel with the mighty French in the Round of 16 on Tuesday.

Well, okay then: Here is the chance to send a message to the world that your country’s prospects are just as bright as the reigning World Cup champions’ youngsters?

Somehow defying the favorites to win the tournament would be an incredible feather in the cap of Tab Ramos’ young men, themselves as well-regarded as any other tournament team despite a stumble in the opener against Ukraine and a nervy finale versus Qatar.

There have been several stars for the U.S., which has seen fine performances from Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas), Sebastian Soto (Hannover 96), and others, but there’s little doubt that the X-factor is Timothy Weah. The son of Liberian great George Weah, Timothy assisted in the opener against Ukraine and scored the lone goal against stingy Qatar.

Now the Paris Saint-Germain youth will be tested by a French team who boasts talents from the biggest names in Europe. There’s fellow PSG striker Moussa Diaby, Borussia Monchengladbach mainstay (at age 19!) Mikael Cuisance, and Borussia Dortmund’s Dan-Axel Zagadou amongst others.

Perhaps a better way to look at Tuesday’s challenge is to list some of the players France did not select for the team: Fiorentina starting goalkeeper Alban Lafont, Eintracht Frankfurt contributor Evan N’Dicka, Arsenal’s Matteo Guendouzi (Europa League duty), RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate, and PSG’s Stanley Nsoki.

Yikes.

The 2013 champions, France won a pair of 2-0 matches before their 3-2 thriller with Mali. Bernard Diomède’s men will not bat an eye at the United States, and his 4-3-3 has an attacking bend.

Ramos has used that formation at the tournament, too, but perhaps it’s telling that he opted for a more defensive 4-3-3 in a 2-2 draw with the French in March. Chris Durkin and Alex Mendez sat in holding roles, while Frankie Amaya pushed the creative buttons. That’s an even tougher midfield with Pomykal in for Amaya, so perhaps we will see Ramos go with the same tactics he chose in the group stage despite the step up in opposition.

Granted we’re talking months, but France’s average age of 19.8 is the oldest at the tournament, seven months senior to the Yanks’ 19.1 (only Mali and Senegal are younger).

U-20 WC roundup: Uruguay out-duels New Zealand; Ukraine takes Group D

AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
Leave a comment

On a day where the United States’ biggest name scored a decisive goal and Honduras conceded all but three of 12 goals to a lone Norwegian, the U-20 World Cup in Poland still managed two other entertaining contests.

[ MORE: Weah leads U.S. win | Norwegian bags 9 ]


Nigeria 1-1 Ukraine

Danylo Sikan’s early goal looked set to give Ukraine a perfect nine-point group stage, but Muhamed Tijani’s 51st minute penalty gave the Super Eagles a share of the points.

Ukraine wins Group D and will avoid mighty France in the Round of 16, while Nigeria will finish third in the group and could face Senegal or Italy next.

New Zealand 0-2 Uruguay

Darwin Nunes scored a point-blank goal before halftime and Brian Rodriguez ensured the result deep in stoppage time as Uruguay won Group C by topping the previously-perfect Kiwis.

Uruguay will meet the third place team from Group A, B, or F. The winner of that match would be the United States’ quarterfinal opponent should the Americans knock off France or Mali in the Round of 16.

New Zealand meets Colombia on June 2 in Lodz.

Watch Live: U.S. v. Nigeria in U-20 World Cup

AP Photo/Sergei Grits
Leave a comment

This is a big one: The United States U-20 men meet Nigeria on Monday in a bid to restore hopes of making a deep run at the World Cup in Poland.

The Baby Yanks need to bounce back from a World Cup opening setback against Ukraine, and playmaker Tim Weah will again lead the team.

[ STREAM: US U-20s v. Nigeria on Telemundo Deportes ]

The 2:30 p.m. kickoff sees the Yanks captained by young FC Dallas star Paxton Pomykal.

Goal scorer Brandon Servania is out of the Starting XI, with Barcelona’s Konrad De La Fuente in the mix. Hannover 96 youngster Sebastian Soto goes from sub to starter.

Watch Live: U.S. starts U-20 World Cup v. Ukraine

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The much-anticipated U-20 World Cup run for the United States begins Friday with a Group D opener versus Ukraine.

[ STREAM: U.S. U-20s v. Ukraine on Telemundo Deportes ]

Tim Weah and Paxton Pomykal lead the way for Tab Ramos’ United States, who will also meet Nigeria and Qatar in the group stage.

Winning the group likely means avoiding heavily-favored France in the knockout rounds until a potential and unprecedented final.

What to expect as U.S. kicks off U-20 World Cup

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Tab Ramos’ United States men’s national team may have a navigable U-20 World Cup group, but it doesn’t set-up nicely.

Not that supporters are ready to make excuses; The U.S. is expected to make a decent run over the next month in Poland.

[ WATCH: The U-20 World Cup on Telemundo ]

Timothy Weah, Paxton Pomykal, and the Baby Yanks meet Ukraine at 2:30 p.m. ET in their Group D debut, hopeful of a run past the quarterfinals. The Americans haven’t played three post-group stage matches since a fourth place finish in 1999.

A group win is imperative with loaded favorites France expected to win Group E and set for a spot on the other side of the knockout bracket.

Aside from Josh Sargent’s call-up to the full USMNT, the Yanks have every reason to be optimistic about their potential. The 21-man player squad breaks down to six players on German sides, 10 American-based players, two from the Netherlands, and one each from Portugal, Spain, and France.

Weah is probably the most exciting one of the bunch, having success at Celtic on loan from PSG and earning high praise from Neymar amongst others, but Pomykal is one of the best MLS products in some time as a center midfielder.

Both Pomykal and Chris Durkin are getting significant minutes at the Major League Soccer level, while Mark McKenzie has nearly 20 with the Philadelphia Union as a senior player.

Beyond that are exciting strikers Sebastian Soto, who debuted for Hannover 96 this season, and Wolfsburg prospect Ulysses Llanez.

But the Yanks will look to Weah for that extra special something, the 19-year-old scoring six goals between PSG and Celtic this season.

Friday’s debut will be followed by a Monday match against Nigeria before Thursday’s tango witj Qatar.

Winning Group D means the third-place team from B, E, or F, while finishing second is a Round of 16 match-up with France, who boasts a number of high-end players already playing regularly at the highest levels of European soccer.