CARSON, Calif. –The U.S. U-20’s learned their draw for the upcoming Toulon Tournament in France, which will serve as the final preparation before this summer's 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
The tournament will feature 10 nations in two five-team groups across a 12-day span. The U.S. was placed in Group A alongside Colombia, Congo DR, South Korea and host France. Meanwhile, Group B includes Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria and Portugal.
The U.S. will open the tournament against France on May 28 then take on Colombia on May 30 and Congo DR on June 1. The U-20’s will wrap up group play on June 5 against South Korea. If the U.S. win their group or finish second, they will play in either the Championship or third place match depending on their result.
“It’s going to be a big step for the U-20’s going into that tournament,” said LA Galaxy forward and U.S. U-20 regular Jose Villarreal. “It’s not really about winning the games; it’s about being good as a team and getting ready for Turkey, which is even bigger of a stage for us. Obviously, we gotta perform well to show the people what we got.”
During the U-20’s recent camp at The Home Depot Center last month, U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos stressed that building a team identity will be key to success not only in France, but in Turkey as well.
“I think one of the things that Tab said during the past camp is that the tournament in France will be about coming together as one team and having each other’s backs and making each other a lot better on the field and off the field. That’s what we’re going to focus on in France,” said Villarreal. “We play to win and we want to win the games, but if not, we just have to focus on working together as a team.”
Villarreal added that he was hopeful that fellow Galaxy Academy alums—and close personal friends of the LA forward—Jeffrey Payeras and Oscar Sorto will make the squad for Toulon as well as Turkey. The LA Galaxy Academy members may be joined by one high-profile addition as Herta Berlin defender John Anthony Brooks may be considering joining the U.S. U-20's for the tournament in France.
The U.S. U-20 World Cup campaign begins on June 21 against Spain. Ramos’ group will round out group play with matches on June 24 against France and Ghana on June 27.
Can the U.S. win the Toulon tournament? Will Sorto and Payeras make the squad?
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