The team's form hasn't been quite as remarkable as its U-17 counterpart, but the US U-20s are nonetheless expected to be make the top four of their CONCACAF Championship and book themselves a place in the 2017 U-17 World Cup (kicking off in May in South Korea).
The draw for the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship was on November 29. As with the U-17s' tournament, the regional administrators have fashioned a competition that channels 12 teams through two group stages to produce four World Cup qualifiers (and, eventually, a CONCACAF champion).
The first group stage divides the 12-team field into three groups of four:
Group A: Antigua and Barbuda, Canada, Honduras, Mexico
Group B: Haiti, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, USA
Group C: Bermuda, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago
The top two teams from those groups will then be divided into two groups of three. This "Classification Stage" will yield a top four - the top two teams from each group - to progress to the U-20 World Cup. And the group winners will play for the CONCACAF Championship title.
The Classification Stage groups will be determined as follows:
Group A winner
Group B runner-up
Group C winner
Group A runner-up
Group B winner
Group C runner-up
The USA's pathway to the U-20 World Cup looks relatively comfortable. In Group B, the Americans will face St. Kitts and Nevis (lucky loser out of Caribbean qualifying), Panama (only in the competition because Guatemalan soccer has been suspended by FIFA), and Haiti (Caribbean U-20 Champion).
The US U-20s will be favored to win Group B (though it should be noted that several of Haiti's promising youth internationals have broken into the senior men's squad recently), which would yield a spot in Group E - likely ducking the challenge of U-20 heavyweight Mexico and host nation Costa Rica (favored to win their groups) in the crucial World Cup qualifying phase of the tournament.
The 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship gets started on February 17.