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World Cup Sealed, U.S. U20s Aim at Title

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 03/04/17, 12:08PM EST


USL standouts likely to play key role against Honduras on Sunday

Photo courtesy U.S. Soccer

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – With a place in the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup in hand, the United States U20s will attempt to make history on Sunday when they face Honduras for the championship.

The U.S., while having advanced to the U20 World Cup 15 times in its history, has never claimed the tournament’s overall prize. After Friday night’s 2-1 win against El Salvador earned the team its fourth consecutive victory, the focus quickly moved to Sunday’s final against (4 p.m. ET | Facebook Live / UDN).

“It feels good to qualify, we’ve battled for a year-and-a-half to get to this point, and we’re not done yet,” said Eryk Williamson, whose goal proved the game-winner against El Salvador. “We have to continue to fight, we have one more game.”

Arguably the main reason for the U.S.’s lack of a U20 championship has been the event’s changing format. From 1998 to 2007, the tournament was used solely as qualifying for the FIFA U20 World Cup, with no knockout stage at the conclusion.

The 2005 U.S. team that won its group behind stellar performances by Eddie Gaven and Freddy Adu would have had a good chance at a title, and a final between a U.S. side whose attack was led by Adu and Jozy Altidore and a Mexico forward line that included Giovani Dos Santos, Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez would likely have produced fireworks had it occurred two years later.

The knockout stage was restored in 2009, and the U.S. has advanced to the final twice, only to fall to Costa Rica in 2009 and to Mexico in 2013. Now, with the likes of 2016 USL 20 Under 20 selections Tyler Adams and former Real Monarchs SLC defender Justen Glad and Orlando City SC defender Tommy Redding playing key roles in the team’s success, the U.S. appears in position to raise the trophy for the first time as it faces Honduras, which last won the U20 Championship in 1994.

“I think for us the key coming into the tournament was the team, we had kept building stronger and stronger and stronger,” said U.S. Head Coach Tab Ramos after Friday’s game. “The important part in these types of tournaments is to be strong at the end.”

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