Mexico will start their CONCACAF Under-20 title defense when they face Antigua and Barbuda on Friday. On paper, this young El Tri side will face their easiest opponent, although in past tournaments they have sometimes failed to live up to expectations against weak Caribbean opponents, as a 3-0 win over Curaçao in 2013 showed.
Mexico coach Marco Antonio “Chima” Ruiz will have to work hard to continue the tradition of CONCACAF giants in the Under-20 category. Mexico has won the last three CONCACAF U-20 tournaments and is heavy favorites to do so again. While they will face a tough battle from the home team, Costa Rica, and rivals USA, Mexico has a team made up mostly of the players that earned fourth place in the last 2015 U-17 World Cup. In addition to having played together for a longer period of time, this group has had the financial backing of the Mexican federation.
If Mexico is among the favorites, Antigua and Barbuda is expected to be one of the weakest. For most people, Antigua and Barbuda should be lauded just for reaching the tournament. While Caribbean teams physically have been a problem for Mexico, this hasn't translated recently in youth tournaments. In fact, Mexico were able to go past Jamaica very easily in 2015 and Cuba lost their opener to El Tri 9-1.
The U-20 tournament will start on Friday with Honduras vs Canada in a key game in their group. Mexico should be one of the favorites (if not the favorite) for the title and FMF State of Mind will bring you coverage straight from San Jose, Costa Rica as El Tri go for the four-peat.
Date: Saturday, February 17
Time: 6:00 PM Pacific, 8:00 PM Central, 9:00 PM Eastern
Venue: Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá
Television: United States - Univision Deportes Network
Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription)