Luis Gil, Jose Villarreal and Shane O'Neill lead a U.S. team hoping to qualify for the U-20 World Cup.
Youth tournaments aren't a huge deal. Losing in them doesn't mean a program is in crisis and winning in them is not an indicator of surefire success in the future. Even so, it's better to win than lose and checking out the kids is always fun so you can say you saw them way back when growing a mustache was an ordeal.
That brings us to today, the United States' first U-20 CONCACAF Championship match. The tournament, hosted in Puebla, Mexico, will determine which four teams advance from the region to the U-20 World Cup. Getting back to the World Cup especially important to the U.S. after failing to qualify for it two years ago, one year before the Americans failed to qualify for the Olympics and sparked an all-out freakout about the U.S. youth program.
The U.S. will open the tournament today versus Haiti, the first of two group stage matches. The top two teams from the three-team group will advance to the knockout stages, where the U.S. will have to win their quarterfinal match to qualify for the U-20 World Cup.
United States lineup vs. Haiti: Cropper, Okwuonu, Stanko, O'Neill, Trapp, Villarreal, Joya, Rodriguez, Gil, Torre, Cuevas.
The match kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel. This is your open thread for the Baby Yanks so watch, chime in here and see if Luis Gil, Jose Villarreal and Shane O'Neill and the rest of the team can get the tournament started right.