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2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship kicks off in Costa Rica

The US will kick off competition in the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship this Saturday against Panama

Germany U20 v USA U20 - International Match Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

An experienced US team will enter the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship seeking their first ever championship. The 20-player U.S. roster for the tournament consists of 11 players on MLS rosters (including the four members of RSL), 4 with ties to foreign clubs, and five collegiate players.

Luca de la Torre (Fulham FC), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union) and Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls) were members of 2015 U-17 World Cup team in Chile, team captain Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City) participated in the 2015 U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. Tommy Redding (Orlando FC) and Justen Glad (RSL) were also participants in the 2013 U-17 CONCACAF Championship.

While informed opinion seems to be that the team is weaker than that which finished tied for third in the 2015 tournament, the team does feature a strong attacking core featuring both Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake) and Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers), the fourth overall pick in the recent MLS SuperDraft.

Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake) is the only nominal #10 named to the roster and a favorite to start in the midfield, while Danilo Acosta (Real Salt Lake) has a good chance to see time as a left fullback, as this is another position that is not otherwise covered in the squad. Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake) should also start and/or see major minutes in the center of the defensive line.

The US in Qualifying Group B

The United States was drawn into one of the weakest qualifying groups with Panama, Haiti and St. Kitts & Nevis.

Panama, the opponent in the US’s first match on February 18th, was the surprise team of the 2015 CONCACAF Championship and has recently turned into a major supplier of young soccer talent including midfielder Cristian Martinez who signed with the Columbus Crew in 2016. However, they finished fourth in the five team Central American qualifying tournament and would not even be participating if Guatemala had not been suspended by CONCACAF. Panama will still probably be the toughest competitor in this group and a critical checkpoint in moving on qualifying.

Both Haiti and St. Kitts & Nevis competed in the Caribbean qualifying tournament with Haiti winning their group and St. Kitts & Nevis qualifying as the best third place team. The Haiti squad, with forward Derrick Etienne (NY Red Bull), is the opponent in the second match on February 21st. This squad has been in turmoil over payment and travel issues with the government and national federation and will not even leave for Costa Rica until February 16th at the earliest. St. Kitts & Nevis, the third and final group opponent on February 24th, is a first time qualifier for the CONCACAF Championship and lacks the experience and depth of the other teams in the group.

The Championship Groups

Once play in the qualifying groups has been completed the top two teams in each of the three qualifying groups will be seeded into two championship groups for additional matches. Because of an uneven number of qualifying groups and a favorable draw the US can greatly ease their way by finishing first in their qualifying group. This would match them against the second place teams from each of the other groups while a second place finish will group them with the two first place teams from the other qualifying groups. Finishing first or second in a championship group will qualify the US for the 2017 U-20 World Cup in Korea later this spring.

Viewing the Matches

While Univision Deportes has the standard broadcast rights, the US Soccer Federation has recently announced that the matches will also be streamed live on Facebook via the official CONCACAF Facebook page.

Roster via U.S. Soccer

GOALKEEPERS (2): Jonathan Klinsmann (University of California; Newport Beach, Calif.), JT Marcinkowski (Georgetown; Alamo, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (7): Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake; Salt Lake City, Utah), Marlon Fossey (Fulham F.C.; Surbiton, England), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Aaron Herrera (New Mexico; Casa Grande, Ariz.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC; Oviedo, Fla.), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union; Media, Pa.)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; Wappingers Falls, N.Y), Luca de la Torre (Fulham F.C.; San Diego, Calif.), Jonathan Gonzalez (CF Monterrey; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Jeremiah Gutjahr (Indiana University; Bloomington, Ind.), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake; Park City, Utah), Eryk Williamson (University of Maryland; Alexandria, Va.)

FORWARDS (5): Coy Craft (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers; Bethesda, Md.), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake; Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC; Plantation, Fla.), Emmanuel Sabbi (UD Las Palmas; Libertyville, Ill.)