Curb Your Enthusiasm: US Youth National Teams, Prospect Hype, and Youth Development Thread [The DA is DEAD updates]

Titans Bastard

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The Gold Cup schedule is a little more favorable this year. It often ends in late July or even early August, but this year's edition wraps up on July 16.
 

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Many of our European based players could be looking for teams this summer. Pulisic certainly, if Leeds goes down - maybe Aaronson, Adams, and McKennie, Pepi, Dest, Musah., etc. I imagine this impacts some of these guys and where they are considered. We’ll want them to bed in early with new teams for sure.
 

rguilmar

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The Gold Cup schedule is a little more favorable this year. It often ends in late July or even early August, but this year's edition wraps up on July 16.
This is true, but it feels like European preseason kicks off earlier this year too. There are preseason games in the US starting July 22. If guys are hunting for new clubs, joining new clubs, have new managers they need to impress, or are still carving out roles, it would make sense professionally to be with the club as early as possible.

Of course the flip side is that MLS clubs lose their players for several actual regular season games. I was more or less saying that if Crocker wanted MLS clubs to step in line, one way to do this would be to call up players that had previously not been released by their clubs. Again, not saying it’s necessarily a good decision but it is an option.
 

67YAZ

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What’s most frustrating for me is that Heitz is on record saying he wants to send players into national team camps & competitions, that it’s good for them, and it ultimately helps the team. No way was this Ezra’s call, even though he had to be the face of it. This is Heitz hiding behind his manager so as not to get called out for a hypocritical decision.

It’s always good for young guys to get these experiences, work with new coaches, and get into intense competitions (the U20 WC will be much higher pressure than this Fire season). But given the NT program is in such flux, I don’t think Guti or Brady are losing out long term. They’re better off putting in impressive MLS performances and getting a good offer to head to Europe and stay on the radar for the next NT manager.

And @Titans Bastard - there’s not a single Fire who’d say Shaq isn’t already a total bust. He’s the highest paid player in MLS and contracted though next season, too.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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There's a level at which I don't mind this because these guys continuing to get professional reps is good, then there's a USYNT/Revs fan level where I'm like "The Fire will miss the playoffs without Guti for a month and they'll miss them with Guti for a month, because the Fire are basically a terminal case that was briefly defibrillated by Bastian Schweinsteiger and there have been no signs of life since."
 

67YAZ

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There's a level at which I don't mind this because these guys continuing to get professional reps is good, then there's a USYNT/Revs fan level where I'm like "The Fire will miss the playoffs without Guti for a month and they'll miss them with Guti for a month, because the Fire are basically a terminal case that was briefly defibrillated by Bastian Schweinsteiger and there have been no signs of life since."
100%. There was an article in the Athletic yesterday demonstrating why the Fire’s 2013-2016 seasons were the worst 4 year stretch in MLS history.

Heitz was brought into change all that, bring the Basel Model of developing world class youth, selling at high premiums, and winning the league. But Heitz still can’t put together a complete, balanced MLS squad, so the emergence of incredible local kids is the main source of Fire fan excitement. Watching Gaga go from Addison, Illinois to Chelsea has been the most exciting thing about this squad in years. So throwing up a barrier to Guti & Brady’s trajectories is extra frustrating.
 

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There's a level at which I don't mind this because these guys continuing to get professional reps is good, then there's a USYNT/Revs fan level where I'm like "The Fire will miss the playoffs without Guti for a month and they'll miss them with Guti for a month, because the Fire are basically a terminal case that was briefly defibrillated by Bastian Schweinsteiger and there have been no signs of life since."
I feel like U-20 World Cup should be considered "professional reps" too. Maybe you can argue the qualifiers are a competition amongst not-yet-professionals, but at this level, most of the rosters will be composed of players who have broken into the first teams of high-quality clubs and are part-time or full-time starters. I feel like the competition has to be a higher level than MLS, no?

A reasonable excuse for Heitz, though, would be if Gutierrez wasn't really in Mikey Varas's plans and would be an emergency backup / depth option at most. The main AMs for the U-20s to date have been Diego Luna, Alvarado, Pukstas, and Paxten when he hasn't been needed as a false-9. If Guti is going to see the field for 15 minutes all tournament, I'm a lot more sympathetic to Chicago keeping him since he's your every-game starter, even if the level of intensity at the camp and practices would be higher with the U-20s. So maybe we should interpret the public statement as Ezra trying to spin it, "we've decided to hold onto Guti" when in fact the only invitation was for him to be deep-depth, or not even get an invite. "you can't fire me, I quit", but for national team call-ups.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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I feel like U-20 World Cup should be considered "professional reps" too. Maybe you can argue the qualifiers are a competition amongst not-yet-professionals, but at this level, most of the rosters will be composed of players who have broken into the first teams of high-quality clubs and are part-time or full-time starters. I feel like the competition has to be a higher level than MLS, no?
I am genuinely unsure if this is the case in terms of the level of the players. Looking at 2019 rosters, I think you might be slightly overstating how many pro minutes most people will have. What you're saying is true for the top-end rosters (and happily increasingly true for ours as well) but also like Uzbekistan and Fiji are there, so the range is pretty wide (feel free to correct me if I am ignorant there and need to catch up on Uzbek Scuffed eps to understand the rising wave).

I do agree that getting those kids into a tournament situation against other elite prospects is excellent reps and I would prefer Chicago to do so, not least for my own entertainment, but especially in the "clubs scout MLS now" era I don't find it make or break.
 

Titans Bastard

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I do agree that getting those kids into a tournament situation against other elite prospects is excellent reps and I would prefer Chicago to do so, not least for my own entertainment, but especially in the "clubs scout MLS now" era I don't find it make or break.
This is where I am. As a fan, I always want to see the strongest YNTs. Hell, I'd be excited to see Ricardo Pepi on this team.

However, I don't buy the argument that going to a U20 WC is a huge moment for these players in terms of exposure and future transfer prospects. It's a much bigger deal for players in leagues that don't have a reputation for youth development and aren't being scouted. It was a bigger deal for the US ten years ago when a significant chunk of the U20 squad were amateur college players. MLS is well-scouted and has emerged as a league that fairly regularly can sell guys for sizable 7-figure fees, and occasionally for low 8-figure fees.

It sucks for Gutierrez and Brady on a personal level and it's disappointing for fans, but I just don't think it will have much of an impact on their career trajectories.
 

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You don't think an exciting young attacking player, who plays for a moribund team, isn't ill-served by not being able to be part of a different team and coaching environment and having a chance to put up some tape and show out against a whole different system and type of opposition? Wouldn't get some incremental benefit from it? It either helps his development and exposure, or it doesn't and we should do away with it. I'd favor the former conclusion.

It's hard for a scout to be able to divorce a player's skills from the team and coaching context he's in. I think it probably makes a lot of difference to have two coaching styles and tactical setups to evaluate someone in rather than just one.
 

Titans Bastard

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You don't think an exciting young attacking player, who plays for a moribund team, isn't ill-served by not being able to be part of a different team and coaching environment and having a chance to put up some tape and show out against a whole different system and type of opposition? Wouldn't get some incremental benefit from it? It either helps his development and exposure, or it doesn't and we should do away with it. I'd favor the former conclusion.

It's hard for a scout to be able to divorce a player's skills from the team and coaching context he's in. I think it probably makes a lot of difference to have two coaching styles and tactical setups to evaluate someone in rather than just one.
It's a fun opportunity for the player, but I just don't think it matters that much for career prospects. The same moribund team just sold a guy who had never played in any YWCs to Chelsea for eight figures.

Gutierrez is playing well for a bad team, and he's shown he's straight up better than Xherdan Shaqiri, who has been benched despite an enormous salary. Gutierrez will be fine.


Bottom line — I don't think youth World Cups have a big impact on anyone's development. I won't say zero, but the vast majority of development is a club-based issue. YWCs can help with exposure for players who need help with exposure, but young starters in MLS are getting plenty of exposure in front of global scouts these days.
 

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U-20 WC roster just dropped. Short version:
- Yes to Obed, Che, JoGo, Paredes, and all the usual qualifying suspects (including Cowell).
- No to Pepi (or any other true striker like Sealy), Paxten Aaronson (!), Fletcher, Koleosho, and of course the Chicago Two.
- Paxten is the only one of those omissions I want answers on, since he's flexible enough to play the False 9 for us and looked great at it.
- Tsakiris and Obed are the only 2005s on there, with Obed the only one likely to see much of the field. It's mostly the standard 2003s plus the couple of regular 2004s like Craig, Gaga, Pukstas and Sullivan.

View: https://twitter.com/eastdeflection/status/1656356195047813120


That team is a wagon, will be real fun to watch week after next. Very strong at the back and on the fast break.
 
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Jimy Hendrix

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Paxten is a "victim" of his own success here, he's first or second guy off the bench for Frankfurt and they have the Pokal final coming up 6/3, no way in hell they release him and that's late enough that it doesn't make that much sense even to try to bargain like they did for Pukstas, who's cup final is a week and a half earlier.

Great sign for Paxten's career in these specific circumstances, but annoying for this squad.
 

rguilmar

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I’m guessing Yapi is the 9. Sullivan looked to have a poacher’s instinct, at least in qualifying. Given the roster restrictions, having players with positional flexibility helps- Paredes, Wiley, Che to name a few (I would start all three personally). I think Tsakiris will have a standout tournament. Always excited to see Diego Luna play even if he is hit or miss.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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You think Wiley starts over JoGo at LB?
Unless Wiley's starting at the wing, it seems likely to me. I could see that Gomez/Wiley left side happening for the opening match though, with Cowell suspended and Paredes not there yet, the pure wing depth is stretched a bit thin for that opener.
 

rguilmar

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You think Wiley starts over JoGo at LB?
If everyone is available, yes. Admittedly, as much Spanish soccer as I watch I don’t see much Sociedad B which is in the third tier (semi-professional), so I haven’t seen too much JoGo. But I really like what I’ve seen from Wiley at a higher level.

Whatever the case, it is nice to have two legit LB prospects. Three if you count Paredes.
 

Titans Bastard

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Paxten is a "victim" of his own success here, he's first or second guy off the bench for Frankfurt and they have the Pokal final coming up 6/3, no way in hell they release him and that's late enough that it doesn't make that much sense even to try to bargain like they did for Pukstas, who's cup final is a week and a half earlier.

Great sign for Paxten's career in these specific circumstances, but annoying for this squad.
Yes, Paxten is ahead of schedule. My understanding is that his inner circle did not expect him to play for the first team at all this season, having just arrived in the winter. That he is now a valued bench option is real progress.

- No to Pepi (or any other true striker like Sealy), Paxten Aaronson (!), Fletcher, Koleosho, and of course the Chicago Two.
Yapi is a true striker. He has been used on the wing by the Rapids at times, but he is an actual 9, which will be nice to have.

Koleosho played official UEFA U19 qualifiers for Italy in March and as such is provisionally cap-tied for now.

Fletcher hasn't played much in MLS and as an '05 he's not advanced enough to play up a cycle. I expect we'll see a lot of him next time around. If we called up an '05 winger, I think it's more likely that Varas would have gone for the Revs' Esmir Bajraktarevic, although with Dylan Borrero's injury the Revs might not have released him anyway.

I think Tsakiris will have a standout tournament. Always excited to see Diego Luna play even if he is hit or miss.
I'd pump the brakes on Tsakiris for this tournament. He's a surprise inclusion because he's been dealing with an adductor injury all season so far. He made the bench for SJ last weekend, but he hasn't played a single minute either in MLS or MLS Next Pro. It's hard to imagine his fitness levels are enough for him to play a lot of minutes right now.
 

Titans Bastard

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My understanding is that the following players were not released:
GK — Chris Brady — good prospect but it doesn't really matter because Gaga is starting
CB — Jalen Neal – this is a bad one, he's now a starter for LA Galaxy and was probably #1 on the U20 CB depth chart. We'll need Josh Wynder, who is very young and playing up a cycle, to really step up.
CM – Alejandro Alvarado(?) — I'm not 100% certain if he wasn't released or not called. Alvarado played well in qualifying but seems to have made zero advances in his club career in Portugal this season
AM – Paxten Aaronson — a versatile attacker, and one of our better ones, a big loss
AM — Brian Gutierrez — another big loss, a guy playing well in MLS
FW — Ricardo Pepi — the USSF didn't even bother to ask for him since they see him as graduated to the full USMNT, but in an alternate universe he'd obviously be a massive upgrade for this team

I think this team could be enjoyable to watch. I think a somewhat lopsided distribution of talent across the positions for this cycle places a ceiling on what this group can accomplish, and having some players held back from the tournament hurts as well.

Pukstas and Paredes will only be available for the knockout rounds.

This team has talent, but it is weak in some key areas like CF and DM. The good news is that a bunch of third place teams get through the group stage, and everybody in our group gets to beat up on Fiji, which means one measly draw against either Ecuador or Slovakia will most likely be enough to advance.
 

rguilmar

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I'd pump the brakes on Tsakiris for this tournament. He's a surprise inclusion because he's been dealing with an adductor injury all season so far. He made the bench for SJ last weekend, but he hasn't played a single minute either in MLS or MLS Next Pro. It's hard to imagine his fitness levels are enough for him to play a lot of minutes right now.
I don’t disagree with this at all. I’d also add that he’s among the youngest players on this roster. I’m generally bullish on him though. I would ask you two questions:
1. If fitness is a concern, then why bring him at all? He’s eligible for the next U-20 cycle, Alvarado was an option and isn’t really playing in Portugal, and they only have 15 field players available for the first game (Cowell suspended, Pukstas and Paredes not joining up until the knockout rounds apparently).
2. Where is the midfield creativity coming from? I love Luna as much as anyone here, but it’s not like he’s playing a ton and he’s not the picture of fitness as it is. I could be wrong, but Edelman, Vargas, and Wolff are better for me as 6s or in a dual pivot. No Paxten, no Clark, no Alvarado, somebody needs to bring the creativity. Perhaps it will just be McGlynn, but when I look at this roster I just think Niko has to have a good tournament for this team to advance far.
 

Titans Bastard

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I don’t disagree with this at all. I’d also add that he’s among the youngest players on this roster. I’m generally bullish on him though. I would ask you two questions:
1. If fitness is a concern, then why bring him at all? He’s eligible for the next U-20 cycle, Alvarado was an option and isn’t really playing in Portugal, and they only have 15 field players available for the first game (Cowell suspended, Pukstas and Paredes not joining up until the knockout rounds apparently).
2. Where is the midfield creativity coming from? I love Luna as much as anyone here, but it’s not like he’s playing a ton and he’s not the picture of fitness as it is. I could be wrong, but Edelman, Vargas, and Wolff are better for me as 6s or in a dual pivot. No Paxten, no Clark, no Alvarado, somebody needs to bring the creativity. Perhaps it will just be McGlynn, but when I look at this roster I just think Niko has to have a good tournament for this team to advance far.
(1) is a good question, but it might come down to a lack of availability of other options. I'm not sure if Buck would be released, and I don't know Alvarado's status. Tsakiris was with the team in qualifying so he's familiar with the team and can blend in better than a total newcomer.

(2) is why I don't have huge expectations for the performances of this team. I think the talent is a little clustered in areas and as a result the team might not function that well even if in the end a solid amount of talent comes from this cohort.
 

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U-20 world cup schedule. Apparently you can stream it on something called FIFA+, which does not appear to require payment. Argentina time is GMT-3, one hour ahead of Eastern Time, so USA group-stage games are all at 2:00pm ET:

Sat May 20th vs Ecuador
Tue May 23rd vs Fiji
Fri May 26th vs Slovakia

R16:

If group winner: Tue May 30th, 1:30pm ET, vs 3rd place in Grp A/C/D
If group runner-up: Thu Jun 1st, 5:00pm ET, vs Grp F runner-up (France / S Korea / Gambia / Honduras)
If 3rd place: Weds May 31st, 1:30pm ET, vs Grp C or D winner

QFs on Sat Jun 3rd or Sun Jun 4th, at either 1:30pm or 5:00pm.
 

67YAZ

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Cagey first half, understandably for a bunch of young men on the big stage. Both sides looked better on the counter, though the US did more with possession.

Gaga looked much more comfortable and accurate playing the ball. That was nice to see. He’s never going to be Alison or Ederson, but Slonina works so hard at his craft. It’s fun to see the improvements he’s made the last 6 months, though ideally we won’t need to see too much of him.
 

67YAZ

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A screamer from Gomez in stoppage time gives the US a 1-0 victory. I think he has to commit to the US now.
Of course the absolute rocket wins the thing after the US spurned to many good chances. In the end, 3 points is 3 points, doesn’t matter how pretty.

Hopefully this settles nerves and lets the US kids know that they can hang in a very physical match up.
 

Jimy Hendrix

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Luna can dribble two guys and he can pick out nice little passes or combinations. Doesn’t yet seem to be able to do the first and then immediately do the second, which would rule.
 

67YAZ

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Yes, I’ll take the 3 points. That Luna outside of the foot toward the open goal shot would have haunted me for a while.
It was so well taken and so close. Yeah, I’m glad we never have to think of that again.
 

rguilmar

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I was pretty impressed by this game, especially when you take into account all the guys who were missing. Ecuador is a good team and I thought the US was in complete control. I forgot Kendrys Páez, likely off to Chelsea, was even on the field. Every player in white seemed to have a good game, and Slonina had very little to do.

A lot of people expected both JoGo and Wiley to start given the absences, but who called a 3 back lineup with Wiley as a LWB and JoGo as a RWCredit to Varas on that one. Gomez was MotM for me even before the goal. Players were spraying the ball all over the field, and they all looked super comfortable and confident. I’ve been really impressed by the coaching job since he’s taken over.

Diego Luna is still a joy to watch. He doesn’t get much time at RSL, at least in the very few games I’ve seen, but he’s still got it. Sure, he needs to complete the moves, but his ability to juke defenders creates huge problems in the box. Step in and you might foul him, back up and he attacks the space. Honorable mention to Yapi for putting a defender on his butt 1v1 and almost getting a goal/PK. The technical ability of these kids is impressive and fun to watch.

The win pretty much puts the US in the knockout rounds already given the rest of the group.
 

Titans Bastard

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I wasn't able to watch the game, but getting three points is huge here. This team is super short-handed at the moment because Cowell was suspended and Paredes and Pukstas won't join until after the group stage. That means there's a strong risk of running the rest of the players into the ground during the group stage with a lack of rotation. With three points against Ecuador and an upcoming gimme against Fiji, Varas can now prioritize squad rotation above all else in the group stage.
 

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Cade Cowell DAMN. Quite the run, beautiful job to find the space for the lefty shot as the D was collapsing on him in the box.
 

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USA possession / field control stats:

USA 50%, in-contest 15%, ECU 35%
USA 48%, in-contest 34% (!), FIJ 18%
USA 45%, in-contest 16%, SVK 39%

Shots on goal:

USA 6, ECU 0 (total shots 11-7)
USA 8, ECU 2 (total shots 29-6)
USA 7, SVK 4 (total shots 19-11)

Final third entries:

USA 63, ECU 36
USA 99, FIJ 16
USA 43, SVK 41

Seems like we're kicking ass. Our R16 match is on Tuesday 1:30pm, opponent possibly determined tomorrow, more likely on sunday. Personally I'm rooting for Guatemala to beat Uzbekistan shortly and end up being our opponent. Could be Brazil (!) if Group D continues being crazy tomorrow afternoon.
 

Titans Bastard

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It's a really impressive run so far. And it's worth mentioning once more that we are missing the best forward from this age group (Pepi), the best center back (Neal), two of the best AMs (Gutierrez & P. Aaronson).

The team will now be reinforced with Kevin Paredes and Rokas Pukstas, who should be arriving Argentina now-ish in time for the knockout games.
 

Titans Bastard

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Wolfsburg plays Hertha tomorrow morning, we think Paredes has already left, before that game happens?
I can't find a definitive answer but I think I'm wrong and that he's playing in Germany tomorrow. The U20s are playing their R16 game on March 30, so with that time frame he'd probably be a bench option at first.


Also, it's complicated, but New Zealand finished 3rd in Group A on four points. They are extremely likely to advance as one of the four best third place finishers, which is good for the US. Based on the matrix of possible 3rd place opponents, NZ advancing significantly increases the likelihood of USA vs. NZ and significantly decreases the likelihood of USA vs. Brazil/Italy/Nigeria.
 

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I can't find a definitive answer but I think I'm wrong and that he's playing in Germany tomorrow. The U20s are playing their R16 game on March 30, so with that time frame he'd probably be a bench option at first.


Also, it's complicated, but New Zealand finished 3rd in Group A on four points. They are extremely likely to advance as one of the four best third place finishers, which is good for the US. Based on the matrix of possible 3rd place opponents, NZ advancing significantly increases the likelihood of USA vs. NZ and significantly decreases the likelihood of USA vs. Brazil/Italy/Nigeria.

Just watched the Gamecast of the final Group C matches. That group ended with a flurry. And if I'm reading the Matrix correctly that makes a US-NZ matchup an almost certainty? Looks like it would have to be Group ABCD as the top 3rd place finishers for them to play Nigeria instead. to make that happen I think it would take a Uruguay 3 goal win plus a
France-Honduras draw.
 

Titans Bastard

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Just watched the Gamecast of the final Group C matches. That group ended with a flurry. And if I'm reading the Matrix correctly that makes a US-NZ matchup an almost certainty? Looks like it would have to be Group ABCD as the top 3rd place finishers for them to play Nigeria instead. to make that happen I think it would take a Uruguay 3 goal win plus a
France-Honduras draw.
Yes, it looks extremely likely that the US will face New Zealand. Basically, we need to avoid Japan (currently the 5th third-place finisher) to enter into the top four at the expense of the Group E third place finisher (currently Tunisia). Like Japan, in Group E Tunisia and Uruguay are both on three points. Unlike Japan, who are finished with a -1 GD, Tunisia is currently +2 and Uruguay is +3. As long as there isn't a blowout in the Tunisia/Uruguay game, one of them will rank above Japan in the third place standings either on GD or on points (if there's a tie in this game).

Even if there is a blowout, you'd ALSO need the Group F third place team to not leapfrog Japan. That will happen with a Honduras win over France (unlikely) or a multi-goal France win (likely), or some versions of a one-goal France win.
 

Titans Bastard

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It's confirmed: the US U-20s will play New Zealand in the Round of 16 on Tuesday (5/30) at 1:30pm EDT. The game will be broadcast on FS2.

The winner plays Uruguay (who finished 2nd in Group E behind England and ahead of Tunisia and Iraq) or Gambia (who WON the group with South Korea, France, and Honduras).