USA vs. Spain, 2013 U-20 World Cup: Americans open vs. tournament favorites

USA TODAY Sports

If the U.S. is going to make it to the knockout stage, they will have earned it.

Today, the United States U-20's finally meet the Group of Death.

We'll see if they run and hide.

The U.S. was misfortunate enough to draw Spain, France and Ghana in their grop at the U-20 World Cup and worse, they were matched with the heavily favored Spaniards in their opener. But this is expected to be one of the better U.S. teams in recent memory. They are a team of nearly all professionals, led by Luis Gil, Jose Villarreal and DeAndre Yedlin, who have proven themselves against adults in MLS and complimented by a couple of Liga MX's bright young talents, Daniel Cuevas, Benji Joya and Alonso Hernandez.

As promising as the U.S. may be, Spain appears to be a task too tall. Led by Gerard Deulofeu, who was named Golden Player at least year's UEFA U-19 Championship and already has a couple appearances for Barcelona under his belt, Spain are expected to win the U-20 crown, just like they won the UEFA U-21 title over the weekend. Their international dominance stretches from their senior team all the way down to the kids and this tournament is expected to be further proof of that.

Fortunately for the Americans, youth competitions, even at the World Cup, isn't about team performance. people will hemm and haw over whether the team over or underachieved, but youth competitions are about developing players for the senior team. If the U.S. gets two or three players to be valuable contributors to the senior team in a few years, this team will be a success.

Not that an upset over Spain and a run in Turkey would be frowned upon, though.

Match date/time: Friday, June 21; 2 p.m. ET

Venue: Ali Sami Yen Arena, Istanbul, Turkey

TV: ESPN2

Streaming: ESPN3

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