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May 17, 2011
U.S. to play Czechs, Uzbekistan, Kiwis

The U.S. has been drawn into Group D of the upcoming FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Mexico along with the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan and New Zealand.

Wilmer Cabrera’s team, which was crowned CONCACAF U-17 Champion in February, will open Group D on June 19 at 7 p.m. ET against the Czech Republic and face Uzbekistan three days later on June 22 at 4 p.m. ET in Torreon before rounding out the group stage on June 25 against New Zealand at 7 p.m. ET in Pachuca. Fans can follow every U.S. match live on’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.

“It is exciting to learn our opponents,” said Cabrera. “We don’t know anything about them right now other than they are going to be good and motivated, but I imagine they might be thinking the same way, and maybe they don’t know too much about us. It’s an exciting group. It looks like all four teams have done well in qualifying and that’s why they’re in the World Cup.”

The U.S., the only nation to have qualified for all 14 editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, was one of six teams seeded ahead of the draw along with host Mexico, Argentina, England, Germany and Brazil. The 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup will feature 24 teams playing from June 18-July 10 in seven venues across Mexico: Guadalajara, Mexico City, Morelia, Monterrey, Pachuca, Queretaro and Torreon.

The top two teams in each group, plus the four best third-place finishers, advance to the Round of 16. Should the U.S. advance as the top team in Group D, it would play a third-place finisher from either Group B, E or F. If the U.S. advances as the second-place finisher in its group, it would match up against the top team in Group E, which is made up of Germany, Burkina Faso, Panama and Ecuador.

In qualifying for Mexico, the Czech Republic tied all three group opponents – Romania, Germany and eventual-champion Netherlands – in the final round of the UEFA U-17 Championship. Though they did not advance to the confederation semifinals, the third place finish in their four-team group was enough to qualify the team to the U-17 World Cup.

Uzbekistan has participated in the last two FIFA U-20 World Cups, but the tournament in Mexico will be the country’s first at the U-17 level. The Central Asian side finished second at the 2010 AFC U-16 Championship on their home soil to book their place, using a 3-0 win against Indonesia, a scoreless draw with Jordan and an 8-1 thrashing of Tajikistan to move to the quarterfinal round. A 2-1 win against Syria clinched Uzbekistan’s berth in the Asian semifinals and the World Cup. Another 2-1 win against Australia put them into the AFC Championship game, where they fell 2-0 to Korea DPR.

New Zealand was the lone qualifier from Oceania after playing five matches in 12 days, with the Kiwis taking on Tahiti in the final, winning 2-0 in overtime.

“There is no doubt that they’ll have different characteristics,” said Cabrera of the three group opponents. “It’s definitely going to be challenging and new. It’s going to be fantastic. That’s what the World Cup is all about – different teams, different cultures.”

The U.S. qualified for Mexico by winning the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in February. After winning two group games against Cuba and Panama, an overtime victory in the quarterfinal match against El Salvador sealed the Americans berth to the World Cup. Cabrera’s team went on to win its semifinal match against host Jamaica before a 3-0 overtime victory against Canada gave the United States the regional championship.

In Nigeria 2009, the U.S. finished as runners-up to Spain in Group E after 1-0 wins against Malawi and United Arab Emirates. The young Americans met Italy in the Round of 16, the U.S. putting up a fight but eventually falling 2-1 to be eliminated from the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Group A
Korea DPR

Group B

Group C

Group D
Czech Republic
New Zealand

Group E
Burkina Faso

Group F
Ivory Coast

Group D Schedule
Date Match Time (ET) Venue
June 19 Uzbekistan vs. New Zealand 4 p.m. Estadio Corona; Torreon, Mexico
June 19 USA vs. Czech Republic 7 p.m. Estadio Corona; Torreon, Mexico
June 22 USA vs. Uzbekistan 4 p.m. Estadio Corona; Torreon, Mexico
June 22 Czech Republic vs. New Zealand 7 p.m. Estadio Corona; Torreon, Mexico
June 25 USA vs. New Zealand 7 p.m. Estadio Hildago; Pachuca, Mexico
June 25 Czech Republic vs. Uzbekistan 7 p.m. Estadio Corona; Torreon, Mexico

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