In one week, the U.S. U-20 MNT will face its first test in the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and among the 20-player roster named by head coach Tab Ramos will be four California natives.
Representing the Golden State will be goalkeepers Jonathan Klinsmann (University of California; Newport Beach, Calif.), JT Marcinkowski (Georgetown; Alamo, Calif.), and midfielders Luca de la Torre (Fulham F.C.; San Diego, Calif.) and Jonathan Gonzalez (CF Monterrey; Santa Rosa, Calif.).
The CONCACAF U-20 Championship, which runs from February 17-March in Costa Rica, also doubles as the team’s 2017 World Cup Qualifying tournament. The top 4 teams will move on to the U-20 World Cup which will be help in South Korea from May 20-June 11.
The USA has been drawn into Group B and will open the tournament agaisnt Panama on February 18 at 1:00 PT. The USA will then face Haiti at 2:30 PT on February 21, and will close out group play against Saint Kitts and Nevis at 2:30 PT on February 24. All of the matches will be broadcast on Univision networks.
Four countries will directly qualify from this tournament for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea. The U.S. U-20 MNT is looking to qualify for its 15th trip to a FIFA World Youth Championship or FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The USA finished tied for third at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and advanced to the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, where the team lost to eventual World Cup winner Serbia 6-5 on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals.
“It’s hard to compare this roster to past qualifying rosters. All the rosters are different because we like to play according to the players that we have. We have good players here and I thought we had good players the last two cycles. I think this group has potential, if we qualify to the world cup, to maybe, at some point, be the best one we’ve had. But that is determined to be seen, because, in the end, what’s on paper doesn’t really matter. It’s what you get done on the field.”
This year marks the 26th occasion that the U.S. U-20 MNT will compete in the CONCACAF Youth Tournament or Championship. The USA has earned second place in the qualification tournament six times (1980, 1982, 1986, 1992, 2009, 2013), but has yet to win a CONCACAF U-20 Championship title.