Preview: USA Aims For Top Of Group Vs. Slovakia At FIFA U-20 … – U.S. Soccer

USA LOOKS TO FINISH GROUP B STRONG: After two wins in two games secured the USA a place in the knockout round of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, the U.S. U-20 Men’s Youth National Team will face Slovakia for the top spot in Group B on Friday, May 26 (2 p.m. ET; FS2, Universo). The U.S. clinches first place in Group B with a win or draw vs. the Sokoli.
It’s the first meeting between the USA and Slovakia at the U-20 World Cup. Slovakia is making its second appearance at the tournament and are currently second in Group B after rolling Fiji 4-0 in its opener and falling 2-1 to Ecuador in its second match.
The FIFA U-20 World Cup will be broadcast in English on Fox Sports platforms and on the Fox Sports app with corresponding authentication. Matches will be broadcast in Spanish on Telemundo platforms and the Telemundo app.
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GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Alex Borto (Fulham/ENG; South Plainfield, N.J.; 2/0), 12-Antonio Carrera (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas; 4/0), 1-Gaga Slonina (Chelsea/ENG; Addison, Ill.; 7/0)
DEFENDERS (7): 17-Justin Che (Hoffenheim/GER; Dallas, Texas; 7/0), 5-Brandan Craig (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.; 12/1), 14-Marcus Ferkranus (LA Galaxy; Santa Clarita, Calif.; 12/0), 13-Jonathan Gómez (Real Sociedad/ESP; Keller, Texas; 8/1), 2-Michael Halliday (Orlando City SC; Apopka, Fla.; 9/0), 3-Caleb Wiley (Atlanta United FC; Atlanta, Ga.; 7/1), 4-Joshua Wynder (Louisville City FC; Louisville, Ky.; 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 6-Daniel Edelman (New York Red Bulls; Warren, N.J.; 12/0), 10-Diego Luna (Real Salt Lake; Sunnyvale, Calif.; 18/5), 8-Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union; Middle Village, N.Y.; 18/2), 20-Rokas Pukstas (Hajduk Split/CRO; Stillwater, Okla.; 12/1), 15-Niko Tsakiris (San Jose Earthquakes; Saratoga, Calif.; 7/3), 18-Obed Vargas (Seattle Sounders FC; Anchorage, Alaska; 6/0), 16-Owen Wolff (Austin FC; Austin, Texas; 5/1)
FORWARDS (4): 9-Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes; Ceres, Calif.; 8/3), 11-Kevin Paredes (Wolfsburg/GER; South Riding, Va.; 6/2), 7-Quinn Sullivan (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.; 17/7), 19-Darren Yapi (Colorado Rapids; Denver, Colo.; 5/0)
PATIENCE PAYS OFF VS. FIJI: Three second-half goals boosted the USA to a 3-0 victory against Fiji in its second Group B match. After dominating the ball all afternoon and outshooting the Junior Bula Boys 31-6, second-half substitute Diego Luna finally found the breakthrough in the 66th minute. The U.S. pushed until the end as forward Cade Cowell netted in the 88th after menacing Fiji for much of the game from the left wing. Defender Caleb Wiley closed out the scoring in the ninth minute of stoppage time, tapping home the rebound of a well-hit free kick from defender Brandan Craig. 

SOME GOOD, SOME BAD FOR SLOVAKIA: Making its second appearance at the U-20 World Cup, Slovakia kicked off the tournament with a strong 4-0 showing against Fiji. The Sokoli went up 2-0 within the first 25 minutes, as goals from forward Adam Gazi and midfielder Mate Szolgai pushed Slovakia to an early lead. Midfielder Artur Gajdos and forward Timotej Jambor added two more in the 70th and 79th, respectively, to cap off a convincing victory. Facing a hungry Ecuador squad in its second match, Slovakia fell 2-1 after a comeback effort from the South Americans. Szolgai opened the scoring in the 29th, but Ecuador’s Justin Cuero equalized in first-half stoppage time and Jose Klinger found the winner in the 59th.  
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Samuel Belanik (Zilina), 21-Adam Danko (Pohronie), 12-Adam Hrdina (Slovan Bratislava)
DEFENDERS (7): 3-Samuel Bagin (Trencin), 19-Samuel Kopasek (Zilina), 6-Sebastian Kosa (Spartak Trnava), 2-Simon Micuda (Trencin), 18-Nicolas Sikula (Zeleziarne Podbrezova), 5-David Ovsonka (Zeleziarne Podbrezova), 13-Marek Ujlaky (Spartak Trnava)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 8-Artur Gajdos (Trencin), 4-Jan Murgas (Traiskirchen/AUT), 20-Mario Sauer (Zilina), 17-Dominik Snajder (Zilina), 14-Mate Szolgai (Samorin)
FORWARDS (6): 7-Balint Csoka (Samorin), 11-Adam Gazi (Tatran Liptovsky Mikulas), 9-Adam Griger (Cagliari/ITA), 10-Timotej Jambor (Zilina), 15-Nino Marcelli (Slovan Bratislava), 16-Leo Sauer (Feyenoord/NED)
The United States has qualified for 17 of 23 all-time U-20 World Cups, tied for second-most all-time with Argentina. The biennial tournament was staged for the first time in 1977 and Tunisia hosted the inaugural event, originally held as the FIFA World Youth Championship before becoming the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2007. The USA’s first qualification came at the 1981 tournament, which was held in Australia.
The USA has made it out of the group stage 11 times at the competition with the high watermark coming in 1989. Led by future legendary USMNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller, the U.S. finished fourth place in Saudi Arabia that year. Keller took home the Silver Ball at the tournament, while fellow future senior team players Mike Burns, Neil Covone and Chris Henderson also played key roles. While the U-20s advanced from group play with just one win, the USA took down Iraq in the quarterfinals before falling in extra time to Nigeria in the semis.
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