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US U-20 World Cup History

I have gotten a number of requests for a historical perspective on the US run at the U-20 World Cup. Contrary to what many may think, the US actually has quite a proud tradition of advancing in this competition but as the following table shows, typically the US finds a way to lose in either the Round of 16 or in the Quarterfinals. The point is, unlike the Senior World Cup, the US is accustomed to advancing into the knock out stage at this event, but the exception of a fluke qualification in 1989 (because Mexico was disqualified from this event and the 1990 FIFA World Cup for using ineligible players) the US has never gotten past the quarterfinals. This chart begins in 1983, which is not when the event began but is the first time the US qualified.

US u-20 History


3rd in Group stage, did not advance

Key players: Hugo Perez, George Gelnovatch

1985- DNQ


3rd in Group stage, did not advance


2nd in Group stage,

Key players: Steve Snow, Eric Wynalda, Kasey Keller

1991- DNQ


2nd in Group stage.

Key Players: Imad Baba, Miles Joseph, Kerry Zavagnan



3rd in Group stage; 2nd best 3rd place team- advanced

LOST in Round of 16

Key players: Ben Olsen, Brian West, Josh Wolff, John O’Brien


2nd in Group Stage

LOST in Round of 16

Key players: Taylor Twellman, Carlos Bocanegra, Cory Gibbs, Tim Howard


2nd in Group stage

LOST in Round of 16

Key players: Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey


Won Group


Key players: Eddie Johnson (Golden ball winner), Clint Dempsey, Bobby Convey


Won Group

Lost in Round of 16

Key players: Freddy Adu, Benny Feilhaber, Lee Nguyen, Jonathan Spector

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  1. zizzo

    July 14, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    History repeats!

  2. Anonymous

    July 12, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    So basically the US at this level is like England or Spain at the next level. Always advance, never win.

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