U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Wilmer Cabrera has finalized the 21-player roster that will represent the United States at the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
Cabrera’s team will kick off Group D on June 19 at 7 p.m. ET against the Czech Republic, a game that will be shown live on ESPNU and on tape delay on Galavision from Torreon. On June 22, the U.S. will face Uzbekistan at 4 p.m. ET, live on Galavision and delayed on ESPNU. The final group match against New Zealand on June 26 will be shown live on ESPNU and on tape delay on Galavision at 7 p.m. ET. In addition, every game will be shown live on ESPN3, and fans can also follow along on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.
“These are the 21 players who earned the right to represent their country in the World Cup,” said Cabrera. “It’s not us, the coaching staff picking them. They make the decision for us by competing every day. They know they have to compete every day, and every day there is someone challenging for their spot. The roster was open until the last day and these players demonstrated that they were the top in the country, but they also showed the commitment, sacrifice and mentality to represent the United States at this important tournament.”
The U.S. team will depart for Torreon on Friday, June 10, to begin final preparations for its opener nine days later. The 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup features 24 teams playing from June 18-July 10 in seven venues across Mexico: Guadalajara, Mexico City, Morelia, Monterrey, Pachuca, Queretaro and Torreon.
The U.S. qualified for Mexico by winning the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in February. After winning two group games against Cuba and Panama, a thrilling overtime victory in the quarterfinal match against El Salvador sealed the Americans berth to the World Cup. Cabrera’s team went on to win its semifinal match against host Jamaica before a 3-0 overtime victory against Canada gave the United States the regional championship.
The U.S. roster features 18 players who took home the regional crown at the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in February.
There are 15 players representing 14 different clubs in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, with Arsenal FC the only club to send two players to Mexico in Paul Arriola and Wade Hamilton.
De Anza Force midfielder Marc Pelosi leads the group with five goals and three assists in eight games played this year. His two goals during qualifying included the game-winner in the quarterfinal match against El Salvador that sealed the USA’s place at the World Cup.
Esteban Rodriguez, the only U.S. player to have played every minute during the CONCACAF championship, and Alejandro Guido, who tallied a goal and two assists during qualifying, will also be key parts of the U.S. attack. In the holding midfield position, Matt Dunn and Andrew Souders, who has seen time both on the back line and in the center of the field, are among team leaders in games played and starts this year. Tarik Salkicic, Nico Melo and Colorado Rapids Academy’s Dillon Serna round out the midfield contingent.
Up front, the U.S. will rely on four players who all have international tournament experience from CONCACAF qualifying. Alfred Koroma has been in Residency since he was 13 years old, and scored twice for the U.S. in Montego Bay while Jack McBean is the lone professional player on the roster, and tallied all three assists in the 3-0 win against Canada in the final. Mario Rodriguez demonstrated his ability to score when it matters, netting the second U.S. goal in the all-important match against El Salvador that sealed the USA’s place in Mexico. Paul Arriola, one of only two players on the roster born in 1995, was part of that championship team, but did not see action during the tournament due to a nagging injury.
On the defensive end, Cabrera will call on six players who have helped the U.S. to a 0.70 goals against average in 2011. Center back Mobi Fehr has appeared in all 10 international games this year and is second on the team in minutes played. Fellow central defender Zach Carroll proved to be a valuable asset during the team’s run through the CONCACAF championship, playing all 90 minutes of the semifinal against Jamaica and all 120 against Canada in the championship two days later.
Outside back Nate Smith started three games at outside back for the U.S. in Jamaica, and joined the attack to score a wonder-goal against Canada in overtime of the final. Kellyn Acosta and Joe Amon shared time during that tournament, and each enter the World Cup with 14 career caps at this level. Alessandro Mion, whose lone international appearance in 2011 came against Mexico in Queretaro in late April, completes the defensive core.
The U.S. will be backstopped by the goalkeeping trio of Kendall McIntosh and Fernando Piña, who have shared time this year, and Hamilton. The group has combined for eight shutouts during the past two years, and in 2011 has allowed only seven goals in 10 international games.
The U.S., the only nation to have qualified for all 14 editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, was one of six teams seeded ahead of the draw along with host Mexico, Argentina, England, Germany and Brazil.
The top two teams in each group, plus the four best third-place finishers, advance to the Round of 16. Should the U.S. advance as the top team in Group D, it would play a third-place finisher from either Group B, E or F. If the U.S. advances as the second-place finisher in its group, it would match up against the top team in Group E, which is made up of Germany, Burkina Faso, Panama and Ecuador.
U.S U-17 Men’s National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Wade Hamilton (Arsenal FC; Murrieta, Calif.), 1-Kendall McIntosh (San Jose Earthquakes Academy; Santa Rosa, Calif.), 12-Fernando Piña (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas)
DEFENDERS (6): 16-Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas Academy; Plano, Texas), 4-Joe Amon (South Carolina United; Summerville, S.C.), 2-Zach Carroll (Vardar; Grand Blanch, Mich.), 6-Mobi Fehr (Tokyo Verdy 1969; Tokyo, Japan), 15-Alessandro Mion (Kendall SC; Miami, Fla.), 3-Nathan Smith (Cal Odyssey; Clovis, Calif.),
MIDFIELDERS (8): 5-Matt Dunn (FC Cologne; Dallas, Texas), 10-Alejandro Guido (Aztecs Premier; Chula Vista, Calif.), 13-Nico Melo (Florida Rush; Kissimmee, Fla.), 11-Marc Pelosi (De Anza Force; Sunnyvale, Calif.), 8-Esteban Rodriguez (Cosmos Academy West; Palmdale, Calif.), 14-Tarik Salkicic (Strictly Soccer; Pinellas Park, Fla.), 17-Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids Academy; Brighton, Colo.), 20-Andrew Souders (Crew Soccer Academy; Amherst, Ohio)
FORWARDS (4): 18-Paul Arriola (Arsenal FC; Chula Vista, Calif.), 7-Alfred Koroma (Solar SC; Arlington, Texas), 19-Jack McBean (Los Angeles Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.) 9-Mario Rodriguez (Central Aztecs; North Hollywood, Calif.)