Spain World Cup roster
Let’s be honest: Everyone loves seeing the “next big thing” burst onto the scene. There’s an excitement to it, a sense of promise and potential and the optimism of the future unknown that you can’t help but get caught up in.
That, in a nutshell, is what the FIFA Under-20 World Cup is all about.
Every two years, many of the world’s best young players and soon-to-be-superstars square off against each other and implant their names into the global soccer consciousness. Most are already known commodities within the soccer beltway, but to many of us, they are fresh faces stepping onto the world stage for the first time.
For USMNT and MLS fans, this year is even more exciting than usual, because this US U-20 national team, coached by former USMNT star Tab Ramos, has the potential to do something special. The squad is loaded with talent, including seven MLS players, and they have a relatively navigable group and pathway for a deep run.
The 2015 edition of the biannual U-20 World Cup takes place in New Zealand and begins on May 30. (Due to the time zone difference, the first game will actually occur on May 29 in North America.)
The competition is similar to the senior World Cup. Twenty-four nations qualify and are drawn into six groups. The group stage is followed by a knockout stage that includes a Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, 3rd-place game and the final.
The top two teams in each group qualify for the Round of 16, joined by the four 3rd-place finishers with the best records in group play.
A HISTORY OF CHAMPIONS AND STARS
The U-20 World Cup was launched in 1977 (originally called the World Youth Championship). It has largely been dominated by the two South American powerhouses, Argentina and Brazil, who have won six and five titles, respectively.
Throughout the tournament’s history, it has seen some of the best players in the world make their marks.
Previous winners of the Golden Ball, awarded to the tournament’s most outstanding player, include Diego Maradona (1979), Seydou Keita (1999), Lionel Messi (2005), Sergio Aguero (2007), and Paul Pogba (2013). Other notable standouts include Dani Alves, John Obi Mikel, Giovani dos Santos and American forward Eddie Johnson, who won the Golden Boot as the leading scorer at the 2003 U-20 World Cup.
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