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U.S. U-17 MNT Ready to Face Cuba in Opening Match of CONCACAF Championship


U.S Under-17 Men’s National Team
2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship
Catherine Hall Stadium; Montego Bay, Jamaica

Feb. 13, 2011

CLOSING IN ON CUBA : The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team has arrived in Montego Bay, Jamaica, ahead of the Monday, Feb. 14 clash with Cuba at the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. That match, which fans can follow at ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt, is set for a 3 p.m. kickoff at Catherine Hall Stadium. The U-17s round out play in the three-team group on Friday, Feb. 18, against Panama with a 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff at Jarrett Park. The top two teams in each group will advance to the quarterfinals with Group B set to crossover against Group A which is made up of Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Haiti. The winner of Group B will face the second-place finisher in Group A, and vice versa. The quarterfinal winners will move on to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.

CONCACAF U-17 Championship Group B Schedule
Date       Match                       Kickoff (ET)      Venue
Feb. 14   USA vs. Cuba           3 p.m.              Catherine Hall Stadium; Montego Bay, Jamaica
Feb. 16   Panama vs. Cuba      4:30 p.m.         Jarrett Park Stadium; Montego Bay, Jamaica
Feb. 18   USA vs. Panama       4:30 p.m.         Jarrett Park Stadium; Montego Bay, Jamaica

Full Schedule

QUICK HITS

  • The U.S. is looking to continue its streak of being the only nation to have qualified for every edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. It participated in the 2009 event for the 13th consecutive time.
  • There are 13 players who hail from Development Academy clubs, spanning all four conferences and six of the 10 divisions.
  • Seven players that have been in U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., since the start of this two-year cycle. Alejandro Guido, Andrew Oliver, Marc Pelosi, Fernando Piña, Mario Rodriguez, Nathan Smith and Andrew Souders are all currently in their fourth semester.
  • Pelosi leads the current group in goals and caps, having scored six times in 20 international appearances at the U-17 level.
  • Midfielder Matt Dunn is the only player on the roster not currently part of the Residency Program, instead playing with FC Cologne in Germany. He has been training with the U.S. team since January.
  • Forward Jack McBean is the lone professional player on the roster, having signed a Homegrown Player contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy in January. 
  • Three of the 20 players were born in 1995: Kellyn Acosta, Jordan Allen and Paul Arriola.
  • Alfred Koroma rejoined the U.S. team after a year-long absence from Residency and scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win on Jan. 30 against Jamaica.  
  • Defender Mobi Fehr has played in nine international games since joining the program from Tokyo in August 2010.

U.S. Under-17 MNT Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Kendall McIntosh (Mustang Academy; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Fernando Piña (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas)
DEFENDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), Joe Amon (South Carolina United FC; Summerville, S.C.), Zach Carroll (Vardar; Grand Blanc, Mich.), Mobi Fehr (Tokyo Verdy 1969; Tokyo, Japan), Nathan Smith (Cal Odyssey; Clovis, Calif.), Andrew Souders (Crew Soccer Academy; Amherst, Ohio)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Jordan Allen (Empire United; Rochester, N.Y.), Matt Dunn (FC Köln; Dallas, Texas), Alejandro Guido (Aztecs Premier; Chula Vista, Calif.), Marc Pelosi (De Anza Force; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Esteban Rodriguez (Cosmos Academy West; Palmdale, Calif.), Tarik Salkicic (Strictly Soccer; Pinellas Park, Fla.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids Academy; Brighton, Colo.)
FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (Arsenal FC; Chula Vista, Calif.), Alfred Koroma (Solar Chelsea SC; Arlington, Texas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.), Andrew Oliver (Westside United; Indianapolis, Ind.), Mario Rodriguez (Central Aztecs; North Hollywood, Calif.)

ACADEMY CONNECTION: Seven of the 10 conferences in the Development Academy are represented on the U.S. roster: 

Frontier: Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids Academy)
Great Lakes: Zach Carroll (Vardar), Andrew Souders (Crew Soccer Academy)
Northeast: Jordan Allen (Empire United)
Northwest: Marc Pelosi (De Anza Force), Nathan Smith (Cal Odyssey)
SoCal: Kendall McIntosh, Esteban Rodriguez (Cosmos Academy West), Paul Arriola (Arsenal)
Southeast: Joe Amon (South Carolina United)
Texas: Fernando Pina (Houston Dynamo Academy), Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas Juniors)

THE LONG ROAD: The current crop of U.S. U-17 MNT players, all born in 1994 and 1995, have traveled internationally to places like Spain, Colombia, Argentina, England, and Mexico, and domestically to Seattle, New York, Dallas and Houston to prepare for this event. Games against teams from Major League Soccer, the NCAA ranks, La Liga Academies and international opponents have been played.

WARM UP TRIP: As other teams adjust to the climate and atmosphere of Montego Bay, the U.S. team has some experience in that department. Cabrera’s team traveled to Jamaica from Jan. 25-Feb. 3 for a training camp and two matches against the hosts in Jarrett Park – now the site of the USA’s second Group B match. The U.S. drew with Jamaica 0-0 on Jan. 28 and topped them 2-1 on Jan. 30.

Date        Opponent   Result     U.S. Goalscorers          Venue                                                 
Jan. 28    Jamaica      0-0 T       --                              Jarrett Park Stadium; Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jan. 30    Jamaica      2-1 W     E. RodriguezKoroma   Jarrett Park Stadium; Montego Bay, Jamaica

A SECOND ATTEMPT AT THE OLD FORMAT: The 2009 CONCACAF U-17 Championship was the first time the World Cup qualifying event was held as a championship since 1996 – at least it would have been. After the U.S. and host Mexico won all three group games in Tijuana in 2009, the two rivals seemed destined for a championship clash. But, with the four World Cup berths decided, the semifinals and final were canceled due to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus.

U.S. U-17 CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: The U.S. has won the CONCACAF championship twice at this level, in 1983 and 1992, but because those were U-16 events, the U.S. has technically never won the CONCACAF U-17 Championship. When the qualifying tournament was held as two groups in separate venues, the U.S. won its group three times (2001, 2003, 2005).

A 2009 REMATCH: The U.S. and Cuba met in the opening match the 2009 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Tijuana, with the Americans coming out on top 5-0. Current Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney scored two goals and added two assists in that game, while Luis Gil, now a Real Salt Lake midfielder, scored once and had two assists.

CUBAN HISTORY: The U.S. has never lost to Cuba in U-17 qualifying and holds a 3-0-2 record in five matches played. Before the 2009 U.S. win, the two teams met in 2005 and drew 1-1. The countries battled at the event three straight times in 1988, 1991 and 1992. In 1988, the U.S. took a 1-0 win, but Cuba went on to win the tournament championship. In 1991, the two teams drew 1-1 and both advanced to that year’s World Cup. The following year, the U.S. won 2-0 and advanced to the FIFA event.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Cuba, led by head coach Israel Blake, kicked off Group Stage II of Caribbean qualifying with a convincing 3-1 win against Bermuda on Aug.18, 2010, and earned an impressive 0-0 draw with Trinidad & Tobago two days later. Against St. Kitts and Nevis, Cuba earned a place in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying with a 1-0 victory and a second-place finish in the group.

Cuba Preliminary Qualifying Results
Date        Opponent                  Result                          Cuba Goalscorers
Aug. 18   Bermuda                   3-1 W                          Lewis, Perez (2)          
Aug. 20   Trinidad & Tobago     0-0 T                            --
Aug. 22   St. Kitts and Nevis      1-0 W                          Perez

THE SETTING: As the U.S. attempts to qualify for its unprecedented 14th straight FIFA U-17 World Cup, 12 teams from CONCACAF have descended upon the shores of Montego Bay, Jamaica. The crystal blue water and powdered sand provide a wonderful backdrop but the main event is on the field. We’ve got exclusive photos from the first training sessions at the YNT Blog on ussoccer.com.

TAKING TO TWITTER: U.S. Soccer has launched a Twitter feed geared specifically toward fans of U.S. youth national teams and the Development Academy. Follow @ussoccer_ynt to keep up with the U-17s as they move through World Cup qualifying.

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