The U.S. Under-20 national team is set to face off against France in the World Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday (11:30 a.m. ET, FS+).
The United States finished second in Group D behind Ukraine, losing its opening match to Ukraine 2-1 before rallying with back-to-back shutout victories against Nigeria 2-0 and Qatar 1-0.
France will be a much tougher proposition though, coming in with a perfect 3-0 record after beating Mali, 3-2, with Michael Cuisance and Amine Gouiri scoring their second goals of the tournament.
U.S. midfielders Alex Mendez and Chris Durkin will miss Tuesday’s match in Bydgoszcz due to yellow card accumulation.
The missing duo will raise questions for head coach Tab Ramos entering the knockout rounds, as both Mendez and Durkin started every game for the United States this tournament.
Paxton Pomykal should return to the starting lineup after being rested against Qatar, leaving Brandon Servania, Richard Ledezma and Edwin Cerrillo vying for starting central midfield roles with Pomykal. Servania has seen substantial minutes during the tournament, starting and scoring a goal on Matchday 1 against Ukraine. Cerrillo is the only pure defensive midfielder on the roster, and could step in to provide some defensive toughness to combat France’s imposing attack.
Eyes will also be on American forwards Timothy Weah and Sebastian Soto, who have driven the U.S. attack in this World Cup. Soto scored a brace against Nigeria on Matchday 2, while Weah scored the lone goal in a tense affair with Qatar to help the United States advance to the Round of 16.
In the defense, Chris Richards, Aboubacar Keita, and Chris Gloster, who started each of the United State’s three matches this tournament, will have their work cut out for them against France, which scored an impressive 7 goals in this campaign.
The winner of Tuesday’s match will go on to face Ecuador in the quarterfinals. Ecuador defeated group stage stalwarts Uruguay on Monday 3-1.