The U.S. U-17 national team is going to the World Cup in Mexico next month, and yesterday they found out which teams they’ll face in the group stage.
First up, on June 19 (at 7:00 p.m. EST), the young Yanks take on the Czech Republic—most likely a tough game.
Three days later, they get Uzbekistan (4:00 p.m.) and … we have no idea.
Uzbekistan is one of the more obscure of the “ ’stan” countries in Central Asia, trailing only Kyrgyzstan, and possibly tied with Turkmenistan in that category.
We doubt Uzbeks bear any resemblance to their depiction in this vintage, possibly offensive and definitely hilarious clip from Second City TV:
But we couldn’t tell you much about them without consulting Google. We do know that they qualified for this tournament by finishing second in the 2010 U-16 Asian championships, which they hosted.
The Uzbeks defeated Australia 2-1 in the semifinals before falling to North Korea 2-0 in the final. All four semifinalists (Japan was the fourth) qualified for the U-17 World Cup.
The U.S.’s third game is at 6:00 p.m. on June 25 against New Zealand, which won the Oceania tournament, beating Tahiti 2-0 in overtime in the final.
Downing an island nation with a population of 175,000—and needing overtime to do it—might not seem like a landmark accomplishment. But before we go underestimating New Zealand, let’s remember the Kiwis’ full national team and its undefeated performance at the 2010 World Cup.
All in all, though, we’d say the U.S. should advance out of this group.
Here’s the entire draw (Groups B and F look like the toughest):