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USA to Face Ukraine, Nigeria and Qatar at 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland

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The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team will face Ukraine, Nigeria and Qatar in Group D at the upcoming 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, taking place from May 23-June 15 in Poland. The final draw for the competition took place today at the Gdynia Sports Arena in Gdynia, Poland, one of six host cities for the tournament.

The USA opens the U-20 World Cup on Friday, May 24 against Ukraine at 2:30 p.m. ET, faces Nigeria on May 27 at 2:30 p.m. ET and finishes the group phase versus Qatar on Thursday, May 30 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The U.S. will play its first two group stage games at Bielsko-Biala Stadium in Bielsko-Biala and its third group game at Tychy Stadium in Tychy.

 

The 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup features 16 nations divided into six groups of four teams. The top two finishers in each group, as well as the four best third-place teams advance to the Round of 16 from Sunday, June 2 to Tuesday, June 4. The quarterfinals will take place on Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8. The winners of those games will advance to the tournament semifinals on Tuesday, June 11. The championship is set for Saturday, June 15 at Stadion Widzewa in Lodz.

Should the USA advance to the Round of 16, it could face a team from any of Groups A, B, E or F.

The U.S. was drawn out of Pot 1, which included host Poland, Portugal, Uruguay, France and Mexico. Teams were sorted into pots based on a ranking determined by success in the last five FIFA U-20 World Cups, with more recent tournament results weighted more heavily, as well as performance in confederation qualifying tournaments. The USA's spot in Pot 1 came largely from consecutive quarterfinal appearances at the 2015 and 2017 tournaments. The U.S. and Portugal are the only two nations to advance to the quarterfinals in each of the last two U-20 World Cups.

This tournament will be the 22nd overall world championship for this age group. The first 15 editions were held as the FIFA World Youth Championship before the competition was renamed the FIFA U-20 World Cup for the 2007 event. The USA has qualified for the biennial event 16 times, with its best finish coming at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship in Saudi Arabia, where the team took fourth. At the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic, the USA won Group F en route to the quarterfinals, where it fell in extra time to eventual runner-up Venezuela. Last-minute call-up Josh Sargent took home the Silver Boot at the competition with four goals.

The USA qualified for the 2019 U-20 World Cup with a dominant showing at the 2018 Concacaf U-20 Championship, where the U.S. took home its second-straight regional title. After rolling through its six-team group with a plus-37 goal differential, the USA put together two strong results in the qualification stage, topping Costa Rica 4-0 and Honduras 1-0 to secure its ticket to Poland. In the final against Mexico, two goals from Alex Mendez boosted the U.S. to the confederation crown.

Ukraine qualified for the U-20 World Cup with a top-four finish at the 2018 UEFA European U-19 Championship in Finland. The USA is 0-1-1 against Ukraine at the U-20 World Cup with the nations' last meeting coming in 2015. Nigeria earned its place in Poland as the fourth-placed team and final qualifier from the 2019 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations in Niger. The U.S. fell to Nigeria 2-1 in overtime in their only previous meeting at the tournament, the semifinal in 1989. Qatar secured its spot in the tournament with a top-four finish at the 2018 AFC U-19 Champ in Indonesia. The USA drew Qatar 1-1 in their only meeting at the tournament, during the group stage in 1981.