After a perfect group stage, the United States Under-20 men's national team has now arrived at the part that really counts. As good as their introduction to the World Cup has been, it's been just that: an introduction. The group stage is over; welcome to the knockouts.
Wins over Ecuador, Fiji and Slovakia have propelled the U.S. to the last 16, where they'll face New Zealand on Tuesday. The Junior All Whites topped Guatelama, drew with Uzbekistan and were thumped by hosts Argentina in their own group stage run. The U.S., by all accounts, will be favorites.
Part of the reason for that is that Mikey Varas finally has his whole squad in camp. After starting the tournament down two players - Kevin Paredes and Rokas Pukstas - due to club commitments, Varas navigated the group stage brilliantly, rotating just enough to keep everyone fresh. Now that the cavalry has arrived, the U.S. has a full squad with no injuries or suspensions to speak of.
Now, though, Varas will have some tough decisions. It'll be tough to take some players out of the XI, and it'll be tough to know just how fit several key players can be. And, with one eye on a potential quarter-final match against Gambia or Uruguay, will Varas need to rotate a bit to keep players fresh for the knockout run?
With that said, here's a look at how the U.S. could line up against New Zealand: