For those who stubbornly apply the reputations of men's international soccer teams to age-group tournaments, this is a game between two of the lighter weight sides remaining in the 2017 Men's U-20 World Cup. Neither Venezuela nor the USA can be described as world football powerhouses of the men's game.
But it would be a mistake to measure these U-20 teams by the standards of their full national teams - not least because those senior men's national teams will play each other a few hours before this U-20 World Cup quarterfinal kicks off. At the full international level, Venezuela is already out of the running for a spot at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and it is expected to lose its friendly against a rallying USA team that is re-learning how to play within its limitations under head coach Bruce Arena after the mixed returns of the era of Jurgen Klinsmann's restlessly ambitious stewardship.
At the U-20 level, in this particular tournament at this particular moment in time, Venezuela has emerged as a dark-horse contender for the title, and the USA is a dark-horse contender to knock over any team in the competition with title ambitions.
Both sides are in the last eight of the U-20 World Cup on merit. Venezuela is on a four-game winning streak - all three group stage matches and an extra-time win over Japan in the round of 16. The CONMEBOL qualifier has yet to concede a goal in the tournament, and it is perhaps its underrated defense, rather than its eye-catching attack, that explains its presence in these quarterfinals.
But it is also fair to question how well tested Venezuela has been to date in this tournament. It was in a tough group on paper: up against Mexico and Germany. But neither Mexico nor Germany looked at all convincing in the group stage. And of the 11 goals Venezuela has scored in this competition, seven came against Vanuatu - the weakest team in its group, if not the entire competition.
Meanwhile, the USA came out of a more closely-matched group. None of the teams in Group F would be considered title contenders on reputation or form, but they played each other pretty close in their matches. The US had to equalize twice in an opening-game 3-3 draw with Ecuador. There followed a narrow win over Senegal and a tie with Saudi Arabia. Along the way, the US had its squad depth and resolve tested, culminating in a round of 16 game that saw the team play New Zealand with just 15 available outfield players.
Venezuela is the favorite in this game, but its record might be embellished by having faced relatively weak opponents in the group stage. The USA had a more difficult time in its group, and made light work of lesser opposition in the round of 16.
One of these teams will advance to play Portugal or Uruguay in the semifinals, and either will go into that game with well-earned confidence.
Per livesoccertv.com, here's where to find the game if watching from the USA: