Group B of the 2017 U-20 CONCACAF Championship features the USA, Panama, Haiti, and St. Kitts and Nevis. The Americans are the heavy favorite to win this group: Panama is in disarray after recently losing its head coach; St. Kitts and Nevis will be considered a rank outsider to even get a point until or unless it confounds expectations; Haiti may prove capable of challenging for a top-four place in this tournament, but the USA can entertain thoughts of winning it - at least until result intervene to force a re-think.
For New York Red Bulls fans, there is a very specific rooting interest in this USA U-20 squad: teenage midfielder Tyler Adams is in it. The 18-year-old is an Academy product, was NYRB II's first-ever signing, and graduated to a first-team contract last season. This could be his breakout year - and if it is, he will likely do most that breaking out for the U-20s.
This tournament and the U-20 World Cup that follows might conspire to keep Adams away from RBNY for substantial chunks of the MLS season. His position - defensive midfield - is well-stocked at his club, and he could struggle for minutes if the team finds momentum in his absence. But he can make his case for the U-20s, and the last time RBNY had a young player who kept getting called away for youth international tournaments...well, Matt Miazga made his big move to Chelsea in 2016.
The hope for RBNY fans is Adams is the latest Academy graduate capable of building a profile on the world stage. And the hope is that, like Miazga, he at least gets a season in the Red Bulls first team before moving on to whatever bigger team might value his talents. Those hopes get their first significant test in this game.