CARSON, Calif. -- The United States Under-20's learned their opponents for the group stage of 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico, which serves as the qualifying tournament for the 2013 Under-20 World Cup.
The Americans were awarded the top seed in Group A for the tournament that takes place from February 18 through March 2 and will take on Costa Rica and Haiti. The top two nations in each of the four groups will reach the quarterfinals while the four nations that advance to the semifinals will move on to the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey. (The complete schedule for the CONCACAF tournament can be found here.)
One player that is expected to be on the field for the Americans in Mexico is LA Galaxy forward Jose Villarreal, who is hopeful that he can become a key part of U-20 head coach Tab Ramos' squad.
“That’s important for me getting to be with the Under-20s and getting ready for qualifiers and hopefully we make it to the World Cup," said Villarreal. "It’s going to get me fitter and expose me to different players, different coaches, and different styles of play.”
With World Cup qualifying in his sights, Villarreal admits that he’s certainly learned a great deal during his U-20 experience.
“It’s definitely positive in every way," said Villarreal. "It’s a little similar to what the national team is like and it’s always fun to be around a group of guys that are the best in their age group. It’s just fun because you can learn a lot from them and we’re all friends and it’s always fun to play with friends.”