USA set to begin FIFA U-17 World Cup on Sunday
After nearly two years of build-up, 14 training camps and 30 international matches, the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup has finally arrived for the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team.
As the world’s best at this age group gather in Brazil to compete for the championship, here are five things to know about the tournament.
ABOUT THE TOURNAMENT
Contested every two years, the FIFA U-17 World Cup crowns the world champion for soccer at the U-17 age level. Players born on or after Jan. 1, 2002 are age-eligible for this year’s tournament. Twenty-four teams from around the globe have qualified through their regional Confederation championships to earn a spot in Brazil.
The USA qualified from North America alongside Canada, Haiti and Mexico; Australia, Japan, Korea Republic and Tajikistan carry the banner for Asia; Angola, Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal punched their tickets from Africa; France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands and Spain earned their berths from Europe; New Zealand and Solomon Islands punched their tickets from Oceania, and Argentina, host Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Paraguay represent South America.
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D||Group E||Group F|
|Brazil||Nigeria||Korea Republic||USA||Spain||Solomon Islands|
The 24 nations were drawn into six groups of four teams. The top two finishers in each group, as well as the four best-ranked third-place teams will advance to the Round of 16. From there, it’s a knockout round bracket to the tournament final. The competition will be played at four venues across Brazil. After hosting the 1950 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, this year’s U-17 World Cup is the first time the South American nation will host a youth world championship.
ABOUT THE U-17 USMNT
Head coach Raphael Wicky has assembled an exciting 21-player roster for the U-17 World Cup. Nearly two-thirds of the squad has logged professional minutes in a U.S. league this year, led by forward Gianluca Busio, who has made 22 MLS appearances for Sporting Kansas City this season.
2019 FIFA U-17 WORLD CUP USA ROSTER BY POSITION (CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Aaron Cervantes (Orange County SC; Chino Hills, Calif.; 4/0), 1-Damian Las (Fulham/ENG; Norridge, Ill.; 19/0), 12-Chituru Odunze (Leicester City/ENG; London, England; 7/0)
DEFENDERS (7): 15-Sebastian Anderson (Colorado Rapids; Highlands Ranch, Colo.; 4/0), 13-Adam Armour (North Carolina FC; Cary, N.C.; 18/0), 3-George Bello (Atlanta United FC; Douglasville, Ga.; 8/1), 4-Nicolas Carrera (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas; 3/0), 14-Tayvon Gray (New York City FC; Bronx, N.Y.; 17/0), 5-Kobe Hernandez-Foster (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 23/3), 2-Joe Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.; 19/1)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 18-Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg/GER; Frankfurt, Germany; 2/0), 17-Ethan Dobbelaere (Seattle Sounders FC; Seattle, Wash.; 3/0), 8-Bryang Kayo (Orange County SC; Poolesville, Md.; 8/1), 6-Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders FC; Las Vegas, Nev.; 7/0), 16-Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy; Panorama City, Calif.; 25/2)
FORWARDS (6): 7-Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greensboro, N.C.; 15/7), 20-Andres Jasson (New York City FC; Greenwich, Conn.; 11/1), 19-Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Seattle Sounders FC; Merced, Calif.; 24/9), 9-Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas; 15/5), 10-Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; Bedford, N.Y.; 15/8), 11-Griffin Yow (D.C. United; Clifton, Va.; 12/7)
Fourteen players return from the team that helped the USA qualify for a record 17th U-17 World Cup at the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship. Busio, as well as defender Kobe Hernandez, midfielder Daniel Leyva and forward Gio Reyna were all named to the tournament Best XI in Florida where the USA reached the championship match for a second consecutive time.
Twenty of 21 players have spent at least one season in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, while four are currently based abroad in England or Germany. Born in 2003, Leyva and forward Ricardo Pepi are both playing up a year from their natural age group but will be key players for the U.S. in Brazil.
THE STORY SO FAR
The U-17 USMNT enters the World Cup with a 17-8-5 international record after testing themselves against 18 different nations since the start of the cycle in Dec. 2017.
Many of the players on the World Cup roster started their journey together on the U-15 Boys’ National Team from 2016-17, culminating with a runner-up finish at the 2017 Concacaf U-15 Championship. After kicking off the U-17 cycle at the 2017 Nike International Friendlies, the USA contested tournaments in Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico and England, before an undefeated run at last year’s edition of the Nike Friendlies in Florida.
Things changed for the U-17 MNT in March, when Raphael Wicky took over the squad just a few weeks before the Concacaf Championship. With limited prep time, Wicky led the USA to a record 17th U-17 World Cup qualification during a strong tournament run that saw the U.S. outscore its opponents 28-5.
Most recently, the team finished second at September’s 4 Nations Tournament in the Netherlands. The red, white and blue avenged their Concacaf Championship loss to Mexico with a thrilling 90th-minute game-winner against El Tri in Holland and also took down the hosts, reigning European champion, Netherlands 3-1.
RED, WHITE AND BLUE LEGACY
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the USA’s best performance at this tournament: a fourth-place finish at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. Future Men’s National Team legends Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley won the Golden and Silver Balls as the tournament’s best players after leading the red, white and blue to the semifinals alongside fellow future senior team stars Kyle Beckerman, Bobby Convey and Oguchi Onyewu. After an undefeated run through group play, the USA scored a come-back victory against archrival Mexico 3-2 in the quarterfinals. Facing Australia in the semis, the U.S. rallied from two goals down to knot things up and send the game to extra time but dropped a heartbreaker in penalties, falling 6-7 to the Joeys.
In total, 26 U-17 World Cup alumni have been capped by the full MNT, while 15 have played in a senior World Cup. Current U-17 forward Gio Reyna will appear in the U-17 World Cup 30 years after his father Claudio represented the USA at the 1989 tournament in Scotland. The last two U-17 World Cup squads have already begun to make a mark on the senior squad, as 2015 U-17 MNT alums Tyler Adams and Christian Pulisic have already established themselves as core players for the full team, while three players from the 2017 campaign have already debuted for the MNT: Sergino Dest, Josh Sargent and Tim Weah.
HOW TO FOLLOW
The USA kicks off the U-17 World Cup on Sunday, Oct. 27 against Senegal, face Japan on Wednesday, Oct. 30 and wrap up the group stage on Saturday, Nov. 2 vs. Netherlands. All three matches will be broadcast on the Fox Sports family of networks and Universo.
|Date/Time (ET)||Match-up||Venue||TV Info|
|Sunday, Oct. 27
|USA vs. Senegal||Estadio Kleber Andrade; Cariacica, Brazil||FS1, Telemundo|
|Wednesday, Oct. 30
|USA vs. Japan||Estadio Kleber Andrade; Cariacica, Brazil||FS2, Universo|
|Saturday, Nov. 2
|USA vs. Netherlands||Estadio da Serrinha; Goiania, Brazil||FS2, Universo|