President of the United States Soccer Association, Sunil Gulati, was on hand for the U-17 World Cup draw to be played in India from October 6-28. The historic draw marks the first time that India will ever play in a FIFA sanctioned tournament and guess who they will be taking on in their opening match of the competition, that’s right the United States. This is the fourth time in the last six U-17/U-20 World Cup cycles that the USA has been drawn into the same group as the host nation.
The United States was placed in Pot 2 for the draw because they lost in heartbreaking fashion to Mexico in the U-17 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying championship game.
The teams from Pot 1 that the USA could have been grouped with besides India were Brazil, Germany, Mali, and France (Mexico was also placed in Pot 1). Therefore, even though the United States drew the host nation it seems to be a much more favorable draw then any of their other potential opponents from Pot 1.
The other two opponents for the U-17 squad are familiar names to those who follow team USA. Colombia and Ghana.
Group A - India, USA, Colombia, Ghana
Group B - Mali, New Zealand, Turkey, Paraguay
Group C - Germany, Iran, Costa Rica, Guinea
Group D - Brazil, Spain, Korea DPR, Niger
Group E - France, Japan, Honduras, New Caledonia
Group F - Mexico, England, Iraq, Chile
In 2016, the United States played Colombia in four internationals with the Colombians knocking out the U-23’s in their Olympic bid and beating the senior squad twice including the third place match at Copa America Centanario. The USWNT was able to enact some revenge by advancing through the group stage at the Olympics at Colombia’s expense.
And then there is Ghana. The team that the United States has played in the last three World Cups, losing twice. There is also the recent friendly where the United States prevailed in their tune up for the Gold Cup. It just seems as if Ghana won’t ever go away.
In his excellent article on topdrawersoccer.com Will Parchman talks a little about the quality of the United States’ opponents. He mentions how “India would not have qualified for this tournament if not for their hosting privileges.” Parchman goes on to say how “Ghana will be no walkover, but they should also strike no fear into the hearts of John Hackworth’s men.” As for Colombia, “there is no danger too strong to consider this game anything worse than 50/50 on odds.”
The draw could be much more difficult. Take Mexico, their reward for beating the United States and getting into Pot 1 is a group with Iraq (who is underrated and has some talent), Chile, and England.