With two games to play in the classification stage of the CONCACAF U20 Championship, the United States U20 team will face perhaps its biggest test of the tournament against a team that also happens to be its biggest rival.
That would be Mexico, of course, and it’s the first meeting between the two countries in the competition since 2013 and the 10th meeting overall. The U.S. doesn’t have a good track record with an all-time 1-8-0 record in the competition.
While a win would put the U.S. in good shape for advancing to the finals and in even better position to snag one of four World Cup berths, a more realistic result given their performance to date would be to hold Mexico to a respectable score line.
And that’s okay, since a win over El Salvador should still be enough to finish in second place.
After all, while a spot in the CONCACAF title game would be nice, the real mission for head coach Tab Ramos and his squad is to punch a ticket to South Korea for the U20 World Cup in May. The top two teams in the two classification stage groups will earn World Cup berths.
While results were mixed for the U.S. in their three Group B matches, Mexico swept theirs while outscoring Antigua & Barbuda, Canada and Honduras by a combined 9-0.
The U.S., meanwhile, lost 1-0 to Panama despite being up a man for 72 minutes, overcame a 1-0 deficit to Haiti to win 4-1 and had an easier time of St. Kitts & Nevis with a 4-1 win to take second place in the group and advance to Group D of the classification stage.
Philadelphia Union defender Auston Trusty watched all three games from the bench and is unlikely to make it into a starting XI that has featured Real Salt Lake defender Justen Glad and Orlando City defender Tommy Redding in central defense in all three games.
Sporting Kansas City’s Erik Palmer-Brown has worn the armband and played as a holding midfielder while Brooks Lennon, on loan with Real Salt Lake from Liverpool, leads the team with four goals.
Game: United States U20 vs Mexico U20
Date: Monday, February 27
Time: 5 p.m.
Venue: Estadio Ricardo Saprissa; Tibas, Costa Rica
Streaming: Facebook Live
Previous Meetings: Last CU20 meeting, March 3, 2013: Mexico 3-1, all-time Mexico 8 wins, U.S. 1
What to Expect: A Mexico win and more frustration for the United States U20s, which will then have to beat El Salvador to avoid missing out on the World Cup.