CONCACAF qualifying for the U-17 World Cup in Chile later this year kicks off in Honduras today, and the US is in Group A with the host Honduras, as well as Jamaica, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, and Cuba, with six teams in group B as well. The US will play each team in its group once between February 27th and March 15th, with the winner of each group clinching an automatic spot. Thanks to CONCACAF’s relatively unclear write-up, it appears 2nd of each group plays 3rd of the other group to determine who will represent CONCACAF in the final two spots at the U-17 World Cup in October and November. Pretty confident that four teams go, and the best way to do that is for the US to win their group.
If you haven’t been following the U-17s, here are a few guys to know:
Christian Pulisic, who recently signed with Borussia Dortmund. He’s the creative force for this very talented U-17 side. He netted 17 times for the U-17 side in 2014, and there is a reason Dortmund is very high on him. So is Will Parchman. He is the most promising number 10 in the youth program currently.
Haji Wright, who is currently unattached. Unlike Pulisic, Wright doesn’t have a European passport to get him in with a club before he turns 18, but rumor has it that Schalke is very, very interested. He scored loads of goals in 2013 and 2014, is quick and technically dangerous, and can beat his man off the dribble as well as set others up.
Lucas de la Torre, who is in the Fulham youth academy. He’s got a dangerous shot from long distance, moves the ball well, and has a lot of composure on the ball. He’s been at Fulham since mid-2014 and has been playing with the U-18 side there.
Enough talking though, here are the highlights from the last 3 matches the U-17 side played at the Nike Friendlies at the end of November / early December 2014.
Coach Richie Williams on the roster he is taking to Honduras: “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.”
Here’s the full roster. Anything less than winning the group would be a disappointment for the US, and not qualifying would be a shocker. This team is loaded with talent and they score goals in handfuls. Here’s to hoping that the fields in Honduras are far superior to the ones that the U-20 USMNT team had to deal with in Jamaica. Outside of that I can’t see a lot holding them back. Look for them to play a 4-3-3 and attack like madmen.
GK: William Pulisic (Richmond United/USA); Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy/USA)
DF: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls/USA); Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy/USA); Daniel Barbir (West Bromwich Albion FC/ENG); Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake Arizona/USA); John Nelson (Internationals Soccer Club/USA); Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls/USA); Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf/USA)
MD: Eric Calvillo (Real SoCal/USA); Lucas de la Torre (Fulham FC/ENG); Thomas McCabe (Players Development Academy/USA); Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER); Alejandro Zendejas Saavedra (FC Dallas/USA)
FW: Pierre da Silva (Orlando City SC/USA); Orrin Gaines II (Lonestar SC/USA); Joe Gallardo Jr (Monterrey/MEX); Joshua Perez (unattached); Brandon Vazquez (Club Tijuana/MEX); Haji Wright (unattached)