Philadelphia Union defender Auston Trusty and the United States Under-20 team will begin their journey to qualify for the U20 World Cup this weekend in Costa Rica.
They open up play in Group B at the CONCACAF U20 Championship on Saturday against Panama and play Haiti on February 21 and Saint Kitts and Nevis on February 24.
The competition opens today at 6:30 p.m. with Honduras playing Canada and Mexico playing Antigua at 9 p.m.
Game: United States U20 vs Panama U20
Date: Saturday, February 18
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Venue: Estadio Ricardo Saprissa; Tibas, Costa Rica
Television: Univision Deportes
Streaming: Facebook Live
What to Expect: The two teams last met in July during a camp in Carson, California and the U.S. won 4-0 on a first-half goal from former Philadelphia Union Academy forward Isaiah Young and three second half goals from Danny Acosta, Jeremy Ebobisse and Coy Craft. Trusty started and played 68 minutes in that match.
But results in friendlies are hard to measure when considering what will be on the line in Costa Rica: only four teams qualify for the U20 World Cup out of the field of 12.
With games against much weaker competition awaiting against Haiti and Saint Kitts and Nevis both teams will likely play cautious and defensive, which could result in a pedestrian 0-0 afternoon. A convincing U.S. win would take a lot of the pressure off with two games to play in the group stage, but anything but a loss will do.
Whether Trusty will play in the first game should be a question mark with Erik Palmer-Brown having already been given the arm band and Justen Glad on the team. There has been some talk though that head coach Tab Ramos could move Palmer-Brown into the midfield, which would allow him to select either Trusty or Orlando City center back Tommy Redding to pair with Glad.
Previous Meetings: Panama beat the U.S. 1-0 in the 2015 CONCACAF Championship. The U.S. beat Panama 2-0 on a Kelyn Rowe brace in 2011.