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Beneath the Crust: MLS Cup playoffs aren’t the only Championship in progress

The 2018 U-20 Concacaf Championship is taking place in Bradenton, Florida during November

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

Far removed from the media barrage accompanying the 2018 MLS Cup, the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship is also taking place from November 1st to 21st at IMG fields in Bradenton, Florida. The defending champions from the 2017 edition in Costa Rica, team USA is once again coached by Tab Ramos, and includes a player from the Real Salt Lake academy - however, he may easily not be any of the ones that immediately jump to mind:

Sebastian Soto, despite featuring in many conversations among the pundits, remains with U-19 Hannover 96 and was not released to play in this event. Last Sunday, November 4th, Soto scored a first half stoppage time goal for Hannover and gave them a 2-1 away victory over Hamburger SV despite going down to 10 men in the 11th minute. It was Soto’s ninth goal of the season in 10 matches and helped their U-19 squad stay at 4th place in the table just three points behind first place RB Leipzig. He may, however, be brought into the squad as it moves on to the next stage during the FIFA international window.

Taylor Booth, listed as unattached, featured with a US U-19 team in a September 7th match against a U-20 squad from Venezuela. He scored the first goal of the match in the 62nd minute before picking up an injury. He has yet to feature in another match and was not called in for the Championship.

Richie Ledezma is also recovering from injury. He still seems to be a lock to sign with PSV Eindhoven in January when he becomes eligible there. He participated in an informative episode of the Scuffed Soccer Podcast on October 30th which included his honest opinion on the difference between USDDA and USL and playing for Mexico rather than the US.

David Ochoa, the goalkeeper on the Real Salt Lake U-17 academy side during the 2017-18 season was called into the US camp when CJ Dos Santos was recalled by Benfica. Ochoa played a full 90 minutes for Real Monarchs in the 2-0 loss to the Rowdies in Tampa Bay and was frequently on the 18-man squad as the entire organization suffered through a glut of injuries to the goalkeepers.

Under the format adopted for the 2018 Championship the US was seeded into Group A with Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and US Virgin Islands. In their first match of group play on November 1st, the US defeated Puerto Rico 7-1. On the 3rd they defeated US Virgin Islands 13-0 with Ochoa playing all 90 minutes.

The US continued to dominate this week defeating Trinidad & Tobago 6-1 on Monday and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday and a 6-0 victory. The final group stage match is this afternoon against Suriname.

Even with a loss against Suriname who currently sit just 3 points behind US in the group standings, the huge lead in goal differential all but ensures that the US will move on to a qualification stage where they will face the winners of Group C (likely to be Honduras) and Group E (likely to be Costa Rica). These two matches will take place on the 16th and 19th of November.

Delentz Pierre, another Real Salt Lake academy player who was on the roster with Real Monarchs during 2018 without making an appearance, is also participating on the Haiti team which is giving Costa Rica a run in Group E. He has gone the full ninety minutes in two of their matches and scored a nice goal off a free kick against Barbados.

All these matches are being streamed on Concacaf Go which is running a free trial until for the Championship through December 2nd. if nothing else, it will give you something to watch as you wait for the next round of MLS Cup playoffs after the international break.