The U.S. began participating in CONCACAF’s regional tournaments in 1962, competing in two of five until a format change in 1976. The tournament shifted to serve as a qualification for the World Youth Championship, which came to be known as the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Through 1996, the U.S. qualified for the World Cup in nine of their 11 CONCACAF regional tournaments opportunities. In 1982, the USA finished as runner-up to Honduras and willed their way to the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship, where current head coach Tab Ramos was a member of that squad as a 16-year-old.
From 1998-2007, the format of the CONCACAF Championship changed once again, this time featuring eight teams divided into two groups of four to play a round-robin format in different countries. The top two teams in each group advanced to the World Cup. The USA qualified to all five of the tournaments, winning their group in 1998, 2005 and 2007. Notable players from this stretch include Tim Howard (1998), DaMarcus Beasley (2001), Landon Donovan (2001), Oguchi Onyewu (2001), Eddie Johnson (2003), Jozy Altidore (2007) and Michael Bradley (2007).
In 2009, the tournament returned to a central location and reintroduced a playoff to determine the champion. The U.S. finished as runners up, losing 3-0 to Costa Rica in the final after besting Trinidad & Tobago in penalties in the semifinals. Former M.L.S. goalkeeper and current Los Angeles Chargers placekicker Josh Lambo protected the net for the USA in the competition.
The 2011 tournament saw the USA’s first failure to earn a qualifying spot since 1994, falling 2-1 to host Guatemala in the quarterfinals.
With Ramos at the helm, the U.S. earned a runner-up finish in the 2013 CONCACAF Championship, falling 3-1 in extra time to host Mexico in the final. Midfielders Luis Gil and Wil Trapp, and defender Jose Villarreal were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Most recently in 2015, Ramos led the USA to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in New Zealand after finishing in the top four of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. The team placed second in Group A to Panama, and defeated El Salvador 2-0 in the one-game playoff stage to punch their ticket to the World Cup. Midfielder Romain Gall finished tied for first in the tournament’s Golden Boot standings, tallying five goals, and was joined by defender Shaquell Moore in being named to the All-Tournament Team.