Richie Williams names 20-player U.S. U-17 MNT roster for CONCACAF Championship
CHICAGO (Via U.S. Soccer) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams has named the 20-player roster that will represent the USA at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. The U.S. opens Group A play against Cuba on Friday, Feb. 27, at Estadio Francisco Morazan in San Pedro Sula, Honduras (FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes).
“We’re very happy with the 20-man roster that we named, and we think it’s a strong and deep roster,” Williams said. “Obviously there were difficult decisions that needed to be made because we have a very good group, and we have a lot of players that have been here for a year and a half to two years that have really worked hard and developed. That made it difficult in terms of choosing that 20-man roster. It’s not easy when you have to tell players that they haven’t made it. But again, we feel this is a strong roster and it’s a group that’s ready to go and compete and win a championship.”
The USA is paired with Cuba, Guatemala, host side Honduras, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in Group A at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. After the USA’s game against Cuba on Feb. 27, the U-17 MNT faces Trinidad & Tobago on March 2, followed by Guatemala (March 5), Honduras (March 8) and Jamaica (March 11).
U.S. U-17 MNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond United), Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy)
DEFENDERS (7): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy), Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy Academy), Daniel Barbir (West Bromwich Albion), Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake AZ), John Nelson (Internationals), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal), Luca de la Torre (Fulham), Thomas McCabe (Players Development Academy), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS (6): Pierre da Silva (Orlando City Academy), McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey), Josh Perez (Unattached), Brandon Vazquez (Club Tijuana), Haji Wright (Unattached)
Four countries from the CONCACAF region will directly qualify from this tournament for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. The Group A and B winners will clinch a berth for the World Cup and earn a spot in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship title match on March 15. The group’s second- and third-place teams will advance to a playoff stage. Those four teams will be seeded, with the No. 2 and 3 seeds playing in one playoff and the No. 1 and 4 seeds in the other playoff game, both taking place on March 15. The two playoff victors will earn the other two berths for the U-17 World Cup.
Additional Roster Notes:
Nineteen of the 20 players also have ties to the Development Academy.
Much of this U-17 MNT roster played a big role in the USA’s 17-7-3 international campaign in 2014.
The roster includes forward Haji Wright, the leading goal scorer last year with 18 goals in 22 matches. Midfielder Christian Pulisic, who officially joined German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund earlier this month, is coming off a strong 2014 with the U-17s that included 17 goals and seven assists in international play. Both Wright and Pulisic were nominees for 2014 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year.
The U-17s have had a successful cycle in international competition, including four tournament titles.
Most of this group was part of the 2013 Nike International Friendlies championship side and earned a runner-up finish in the 2014 Nike Friendlies.
Also in 2014, the USA defeated host Turkey to win the Aegean Cup title, followed by a championship crown at the Josip Katalinski International Tournament in Bosnia-Herzegovina and a title run at the Panama U-17 International Tournament in early October.
In preparation for qualifying, the U-17s have had four international matches this month. The U.S. split a two-game set against Panama on Feb. 2 and 4, then showcased a strong offensive display this past weekend with a 5-2 victory against Bermuda on Friday, Feb. 20, followed by a 4-0 win in the rematch two days later.
The USA has qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup on 14 occasions, more than any other CONCACAF team. The U-17 MNT’s absence from the 2013 World Cup was the only occurrence that the USA did not qualify for that stage.