U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team set for Concacaf Championship
CHICAGO (Via U.S. Soccer) — U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Raphael Wicky has called a 20-player roster to represent the USA at the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship, set for May 1-16 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
This year’s tournament brings a new format, as 20 nations participate in the competition. The four semi-finalists will qualify for this fall’s 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Brazil as representatives of Concacaf.
The USA was drawn into Group F and kicks off its tournament against Canada on Thursday, May 2 at 6 p.m. ET. The U.S. then faces Barbados on Saturday, May 4 at 4 p.m. ET and finishes group play against Guatemala on Monday, May 6 at 6 p.m. ET.
All three of the USA’s group stage games will be broadcast on Univision Deportes Network and the Concacaf GO app, available on iTunes, Google Play and online.
“I’m very excited about the team we’ve put together for this World Cup qualifying tournament,” Wicky said. “There’s a lot of very good quality in this group. We brought together a strong roster for the mini-camp earlier this month, and now we’ve added a few more pieces with a lot of good characteristics. The players have brought a great mentality and we’re excited and ready for a number of interesting games ahead.”
2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship Roster by Position (Club; Hometown; U-17 Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Damian Las (Chicago Fire; Norridge, Ill.; 13/0), 12-Chituru Odunze (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN; Calgary, Alta.; 4/0)
DEFENDERS (7): 4-Axel Alejandre (FC United; Chicago, Ill.; 14/0), 3-Adam Armour (North Carolina FC; Cary, N.C.; 11/0), 13-Mauricio Cuevas (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 2/0), 14-Tayvon Gray (New York City FC; Bronx, N.Y.; 10/0), 5-Kobe Hernandez (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 14/1), 2-Joseph Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.; 14/1), 15-John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls; Chatham, N.J.; 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 7-Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greensboro, N.C.; 7/2), 20-Gilbert Fuentes (San Jose Earthquakes; Tracy, Calif.; 13/0), 8-Bryang Kayo (D.C. United; Poolesville, Md.; 0/0), 6-Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders FC; Las Vegas, Nev.; 0/0), 16-Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy; Panorama City, Calif.; 17/1)
FORWARDS (6): 18-Jack de Vries (Philadelphia Union; Wayne, Pa.; 0/0), 17-Tyler Freeman (Sporting Kansas City; Shawnee, Kan.; 3/1), 19-Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Tacoma Defiance; Kent, Wash.; 14/5), 9-Ricardo Pepi (North Texas SC; McKinney, Texas; 6/1), 10-Giovanni Reyna (Unattached; Bedford, N.Y.; 8/1), 11-Griffin Yow (D.C. United; Clifton, Va.; 6/3)
The new Concacaf U-17 Championship format featured four qualifying groups and four main groups drawn directly into the tournament proper. The qualifying groups played in round-robin competition from March 16-25 and April 1-7 with the four group winners (Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico) advancing directly to the Round of 16. The top three finishers from each of the main groups will also advance to the Round of 16. From there, it’s a single-elimination bracket that will qualify four semifinalists to the U-17 World Cup as well as crown a confederation champion.
This year’s tournament marks the USA’s 18th appearance in the Concacaf U-17 Championship, which began in 1983. The USA last took home the title in 2011, its third championship (1983, 1992). The U.S. has qualified for a record 16 FIFA U-17 World Cups, tied with Brazil for the most in the tournament’s history. The U.S. has qualified for a record 16 FIFA U-17 World Cups, tied with Brazil for the most in the tournament’s history. Brazil will also participate in this year’s competition, gaining entry as the host nation.
At the 2017 Concacaf Championship, the USA lost the title game to Mexico in heartbreaking fashion, falling in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw. The team went on to reach the quarterfinals of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India, where it lost to eventual champion England.
- Wicky has called in 16 players born in 2002 and four born in 2003 – defender Mauricio Cuevas, midfielder Daniel Leyva and forwards Tyler Freeman and Ricardo Pepi.
- The USA’s 20-player roster comes from 14 clubs: 13 U.S.-based clubs and one based in Canada. The LA Galaxy have the most representatives with three, while two each come from D.C. United, New York City FC and Sporting Kansas City.
- Every player has appeared in at least one U-17 MNT camp during the 2018-19 cycle.
- Defender Axel Alejandre, goalkeeper Damian Las and midfielder Adam Saldana have appeared in all 12 training camps during the cycle.
- Forward Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez enters the tournament as the leading scorer for the U-17s this cycle with five goals.
- Saldana is the roster’s most capped player at the U-17 level, appearing in all but three international games this cycle.
- Eight players were part of the USA’s runner-up finish at the 2017 Concacaf U-15 Championship: Alejandre, midfielders Gianluca Busio and Gilbert Fuentes, Las, Ocampo-Chavez, forward Giovanni Reyna, Saldana and defender Joseph Scally.
- Ten players have logged professional minutes in 2019. Six are signed to MLS Homegrown contracts.
- Busio is on a hot streak with Sporting KC, scoring goals in three straight MLS games from March 30 to April 14. He’s the youngest player in league history to score in three consecutive regular season games.
- Pepi followed up on his debut hat trick as a pro by scoring a game-winning penalty for North Texas SC in the final minutes of injury time against Forward Madison FC on April 13.
- Forward Griffin Yow made his MLS debut on April 21 in the final minutes of D.C. United’s 2-0 loss to New York City FC.
- Midfielder Bryang Kayo made his professional debut on April 13, coming on as a sub for Loudon United FC against Ottawa.
- Seattle Sounders FC’s U-17 squad took home the prestigious GA Cup title last week in Frisco, Texas. Leyva earned tournament MVP honors, while Ocampo-Chavez won the Golden Boot with six goals in six games.
- All 20 players have spent at least one season in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
- Eighteen have logged minutes in the Development Academy this season.
- Seven players earned Academy Best XI honors at the end of the 2017-18 season: defender Kobe Hernandez and Saldana in the West Conference, Alejandre and Las in the Central, plus Reyna, Scally and Yow in the East.
- Reyna also took home U-16/17 East Conference Player of the Year honors in 2017-18.
- Four players won Academy national championships last season: Reyna and Scally with New York City FC U-18/19, while Leyva and Ocampo-Chavez took home the U-16/17 title with Seattle Sounders FC.