Friday, May 1, 2015

U-20 World Cup New Zealand

May 30 – June 20



Ok --what is on the docket for soccer for this month is the U-20 FIFA World cup in New Zealand. Yes the Kiwi's are the best Rugby nation but they are average in soccer. With that being said we have a little tournament to see our future stars on display.

USA was placed in a great group if you want them to advance. They were placed with the host New Zealand out of the weak Oceania Federation. It is usually a good to be placed with the host since they are from pot 1 with all the top teams. Usually the host is the weakest pot 1 team. There is always the worry for the defensively and tactically sound European teams in any level of the World Cup. Ukraine is the European Representative this year and they beat out England, Scotland, Bulgaria and Montenegro to qualify. With all the unrest in Ukraine maybe their minds will not be on soccer. Myanmar was the host of the Asian (AFC) U-19 Championship and reached the semifinals, so they will be no slouch.  The USA placed 3rd in the CONCACAF Championship with 5 wins 1 Loss and 1 tie. They relied on Romain Gall (Columbus Crew) and the talented Bradford Jamieson (Galaxy) to score their goals.  They scored 12 in the 2015  CONCACAF Championship, and only game up 2 goals, 1 each in the first 2 games. Then the yanks had 4 clean sheets. My yanks are poised to make some noise by getting out of this group. This looks like the easiest draw on paper.


            Panama placed 2nd  in the CONCACAF Championship U-20 in Jamaica, after losing in a penalty shoot out to perennial power Mexico. Panama only gave up one goal in the regional tournamnet. They have a good goal keeper in Jamie De Gracia, excellent aggressive defenders in both Chin Hormechea and speedy left defender in Kevin Galvan. Luís Pereira  controls the central midfield and connects with FW Ismael Diaz. I think Panama will be challenged every game in this formidable group.                                                
         They will play South American Giants Argentina and Africa Super Power Ghana. Then there is always a technically gifted and defensively sound European team. Their European representative will be Austria. Panama will do well to get out of this formidable group


Mexico is good at all levels of soccer. They will be one of the favorites to advance because they tend to do well in these youth tournaments.  Look for Erick Gutiererrez to control the middle. Also watch for the fast Hirving Lozano to make dangerous runs from the right side of the midfield. Their defense is solid with Rodrigo Gonzalez playing Central Defense.


Honduras can score with the big boys but their defense is what will be their Achilles heel.  Their scoring will come from Albert Elis, Bryan Rochez, Juan Barahona and Jose Villavicencio. Germany will advance so that leaves only one other spot. FIJJI and Uzbekistan are not know powers but they will also be believing they are the ones to advance. I see Honduras scoring goals but not advancing here.