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U.S. Under-17 MNT to Face El Salvador, Cuba and Costa Rica in World Championship Qualifying in April


CHICAGO (March 8, 2005) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will face El Salvador, Cuba and Costa Rica in Group A of the CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Heredia, Costa Rica from April 12-16. CONCACAF unveiled the complete match schedule for the qualifying tournament today.

The U.S. opens against El Salvador on Tuesday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET, before facing Cuba on Thursday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m. ET and finishing the final round qualifying tournament against Costa Rica on Saturday, April 16 at 9 p.m. ET. The U.S. will play all three matches at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero. Every U.S. match of the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Phillips Electronics.

The winners of Group A and Group B, which will be contested among Mexico, Canada, Haiti and Honduras in Mexico from May 17-21, will qualify for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship to be played in Peru from September 15-October 2. The two second-place finishers will play a home-and-home playoff series for the third and final CONCACAF berth for the world championship.

The U.S. is the only nation to qualify and compete in all 10 FIFA World Championships at this age group. The U.S. won the CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament twice (1983 and 1992) when just one winner was crowned from 1983-1996. Since the event became a final round qualification consisting of two groups in 1999, the U.S. has won their group twice, taking home the Group A title during the past two competitions in 2001 and 2003. 

"Anytime we have to travel to Central America to play, we know that we will need to be at our best to succeed,” said U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth. “Going up against El Salvador, Cuba and Costa Rica will be a difficult challenge, but one that our players are looking forward to in the coming month. Our goal will be to come out on top in April and guarantee ourselves a spot in the World Championship.”

El Salvador advanced to the final round of qualifying by winning the UNCAF Triangular 1 last December. El Salvador defeated a tough Guatemala side, 1-0, before cruising into the final round with a thrashing of Nicaragua, 9-0.

The U.S. last met El Salvador during the 2003 CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament in their second match, struggling to a 1-1 draw. The U.S. also faced El Salvador in a home-and-home playoff series for the third and final CONCACAF berth in 1999 after finishing in second place in Group A.  The U.S. won the playoff 10-1 on aggregate to qualify for the ’99 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand, where Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley led the U.S. to their best showing ever by advancing to the semifinals and eventually finishing in fourth place. Overall, the U.S. has faced El Salvador six times in qualifying, holding a 5-0-1 record with 24 goals for and only three against.

Cuba advanced to the final round for the first time since the 1992 tournament by defeating Trinidad & Tobago 6-2 on aggregate in the Caribbean Zone Second Round Series 1 last year. After taking the first leg 3-1 in La Habana, Cuba, on Nov. 26, the Cubanos won the second leg by the same score in Trinidad on Dec. 10. The U.S. holds a 3-0-1 record in four qualifying matches with five goals scored and just one against.

As host of the final round of the CONCACAF U-17 Qualifying Tournament for the first time, Costa Rica did not need to qualify. The U.S. has faced Costa Rica six times in qualifying (four in the final round) and holds a even 2-2-2 record against the Ticos. The U.S. Under-17s only two losses against Costa Rica came in the first round of qualifying in ’96 and ’94. During the final round, the U.S. has gone undefeated (2-0-2) against Costa Rica.

While a roster for the qualifying tournament will not be announced until later, Hackworth will select his team out of the 40 players currently in U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program. Since joining Residency in September of 2003, the Under-17s (players born since Jan. 1, 1988) have compiled a 30-23-14 overall record and a 6-8-5 international record. In 2004, the U.S. competed in four international tournaments in France, Northern Ireland, Peru and Ecuador, twice finishing in second place.

2005 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament - Group A

Wednesday, April 12
Teams                          Time (CT)
USA vs. El Salvador    1 p.m.
Costa Rica vs. Cuba    3:15 p.m.

Friday, April 14
Teams                                   Time (CT)
USA vs. Cuba                       1 p.m.
Costa Rica vs. El Salvador    3:15 p.m.

Sunday, April 16
Teams                            Time (CT)
El Salvador vs. Cuba      1 p.m.
USA vs. Costa Rica       3:15 p.m.
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