On Thursday night, the United States under-17 men's national team learned who their opponents at the 2015 U-17 World Cup will be. The draw for the tournament was held in Santiago, Chile and it produced a very difficult group for the Americans to try to navigate through.
The USA were drawn into Group A with the hosts Chile, the defending champions Nigeria, and the always tough Croatia.
The U-17 World Cup begins on October 17 and lasts until November 8.
Nigeria will be the first test for Richie Williams' side on October 17 which will be the first match of the tournament. They will then take on Croatia in the second game and finish up against Chile.
On paper all four teams have the look of strong sides capable of advancing out of the group stages. It will take an extraordinary effort by the young Americans if they are to make it to the knockout rounds.
For the U.S. U-17's most talented player, Christian Pulisic, this will be a chance for him to play against the nation he possesses a passport for. The Borussia Dortmund prodigy was only able to sign with the German club before his 18th birthday because of his Croatian passport. There have been reports that the Croatian Football Federation has contacted Pulisic in hopes of recruiting him to play for their nation.
The last time the U.S. appeared in this tournament was 2011 in which they finished second in their group and lost in the round of 16. After not qualifying in 2013, it took penalties in the CONCACAF Championship playoff match to earn them a birth this year.
A vast improvement will be needed from that CONCACAF Championship tournament if the Americans have any hope of advancing from this difficult group.