LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 24: Gedion Zelalem of Arsenal is faced by John Fleck of Coventry City during the FA Cup with Budweiser Fourth round match between Arsenal and Coventry City at Emirates Stadium on January 24, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

2015 U-20 World Cup: Group A preview

(Throughout the week, we will go through every group and let you know what to look for and what to expect in the U-20 World Cup.)

As the club season wraps up, there is still soccer to be played. The U-20 World Cup begins Saturday, the Women’s World Cup begins the next Saturday and the Copa America begins just five days after that. This is going to be a fun and hectic stretch of games that take place over the Summer and 32 Flags is going to be here to cover that and more.

The FIFA U-20 World Cup kicks off this Saturday and this is a fantastic opportunity for us to see potential members of the senior international teams and possibly for future World Cups. For the USMNT, we can finally get a glimpse of Gedion Zelalem, who has been highly publicized but hasn’t had much of a chance to show people what he can do.

Throughout the week, we will go through every group and let you know what to look for and what to expect in the U-20 World Cup

Group A Teams:

New Zealand (Host), Myanmar, Ukraine, United States


Group A Schedule: (All games on the FOX networks)

Friday May 29: New Zealand vs. Ukraine, 9PM ET FS1
Saturday May 30: USA vs. Myanmar, Midnight ET FS1
Monday June 1: Myanmar vs. Ukraine, 9PM ET FS2
Tuesday June 2: New Zealand vs. USA, 3AM ET FS1
Friday June 5: Myanmar vs. New Zealand, 3AM ET FS2
Friday June 5: Ukraine vs. USA, 3AM ET FS1


Player to Watch in Group A: Gedion Zelalem

How is Gedion Zelalem going to compete? Is he going to live up to the hype that everyone has put on him for the past few years? We may not know everything there is to know about this 18 year old Arsenal youngster in this tournament but for all the hype, the majority of USMNT fans haven’t even seen him play all that much. It reminds me of something like this:

This could be the first time many people see Gedion Zelalem play. He certainly has unlimited potential but this will be his first test if he wants to be a future USMNT legend.


X-Factor in Group A: How much “home field advantage” will New Zealand receive

New Zealand may win the entire tournament just by geography. These players get to stay home and not have to worry about travel and time differences or anything. Except for Fiji, everyone is traveling thousands of miles and a bunch of time zones to compete for the World Cup. That may take a lot out many of the teenagers in this tournament who may be experiencing this for the first time.


Most Important Game: Ukraine vs. USA

If New Zealand does win the group due to the advantage, that means the other automatic promotion spot is going to likely be between Ukraine and the United States. This is also the final game of the group so both teams will know what they have to do to advance.


Teams to Automatically Move On: New Zealand and USA

Call it national pride, call it bias, call it a guess, I have the United States advancing over Ukraine. New Zealand wins the group and USA gets second. Because of the structure, there is a chance Ukraine can advance as well because the four highest of the six third place teams also move on to the knockout stage. Having said that, it’s probably better to just finish in the top two and avoid that stress.

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter @phillipbupp