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U-17 MNT Opens Qualifying vs. El Salvador on April 12

U.S. Under-17 MNT Notes
San Jose, Costa Rica
April 11, 2005

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team conducted their final training session this afternoon before they kick off the 2005 CONCACAF Under-17 Group A Qualifying Tournament against El Salvador on Tuesday, April 12. The opening match of the tournament will kickoff at 4:30 p.m. local (6:30 p.m. ET) at the Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Heredia, and fans can follow live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

2005 CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament
Tuesday, April 12
USA vs. El Salvador 4:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET)
Costa Rica vs. Cuba 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET)

Thursday, April 14
USA vs. Cuba 4:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET)
Costa Rica vs. El Salvador 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET)

Saturday, April 16
Cuba vs. El Salvador 4:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET)
Costa Rica vs. USA 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET)

ALL_ACCESS VIDEO WITH THE U-17s: You’ve been behind the scenes with the full MNT during World Cup qualifying. You got a close up look of the Under-20 Men as they qualified for the FIFA World Youth Championship. Now it’s the U-17s turn to let you into their world as they traverse the difficult qualifying road in the not-so-friendly confines of Costa Rica. In today’s segment get a behind-the-scenes look at the team’s trip to San Jose and their first practice.

The U.S. got their first look at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Heredia, the location for all six qualifying games yesterday, as they held their second practice there since arriving in Costa Rica. The players broke up into two groups with the defenders working with head coach John Hackworth and the midfielders and forwards working on serving in crosses and finishing with assistants Keith Fulk and Raul Diaz Arce. The goalkeepers also worked separately with Tim Mulqueen, before the players all came together for a 20-minute 11v11 scrimmage.

The U.S. and El Salvador could not be at different ends of the spectrum in terms of qualifying for the FIFA Under-17 World Championship. While the U.S. has qualified for all 10 previous world championships (the only country in the world to do so), El Salvador has never qualified for the world stage at the Under-17 age level.

As the U.S. gets set to kick off against El Salvador, has all the in-depth information you could want to know about the two teams. With a “By the Numbers” section, find out who the U.S. team scoring leaders are, how many games straight the U.S. has won in qualifying, and get information on the series between the U.S. and El Salvador in qualifying.
Link: /articles/viewArticle.jsp_166464.html

John Hackworth is the first coach other than John Ellinger to take a team into the Under-17 qualifying tournament since the U.S. started its year-round Residency Program in 1999. The former assistant took over for the departed Ellinger in November of 2004, and ever since then he has heard the comments about keeping the qualifying streak alive. Over the past few months, Hackworth has done everything he can to prepare his players so they can do exactly that – qualify for number 11. With the team’s first match in the 2005 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament just a day away, Hackworth sat down with to talk about how the team looks, what he expects from El Salvador and what pressure he feels to continue the streak.
Link: /articles/viewArticle.jsp_166465.html

El Salvador made their way to Group A of the CONCACAF Final Round Qualification after defeating both Guatemala and Nicaragua to win Triangular 1 of the Central American Zone, which took place last December in San Salvador, El Salvador. After Guatemala kicked off the Triangular with a 3-0 victory over out-classed Nicaragua on Dec. 8, El Salvador and Guatemala met two days later in the match that would decide which team would advance to the final round. El Salvador scored the only goal of the match for a 1-0 victory over Guatemala at Estadio Cuscatlan. El Salvador guaranteed their spot in the final round of qualifying rolled over Nicaragua 9-0 in the final match of the Triangular on Dec. 12. The last meeting for the U.S. against El Salvador was in the 2003 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament, a 1-1 draw on March 27. The draw was the only match the U.S. hasn’t won against El Salvador in six meetings.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Abiel Aguilera, Benji Oldai Villalobos, Guillermo Pino Martinez
DEFENDERS (8): Edgar Espinoza, Fernando Flores, Jersson Gaytan, Daniel Godinez, Jovel Hernandez, Sergio Miguel Palacios, Victor Samuel Turcios, Erick Leonel Vigil
MIDFIELDERS (7): Juan Carlos Aguilar, Jilber Adonay Alvarez, Josue Flores, Mario Francisco Lopez, Nestor Renderso Lopez, Fernando Monico, Joel Ely Serrano
FORWARDS (4): Mark Lester Blanco, Kevin Escobar, Jose Nelson Hernandez, Cesar Mauricio Vasquez,

A number of the El Salvador Under-17 Men’s National Team players and staff have been doing double-takes while they roam the Melia Cariari Hotel, where the U.S. and Cuba are also staying during the tournament. The cause of their eye-rubbing and dropped jaws is U.S. assistant coach Raul Diaz Arce, one of the most famous players to ever suit up for the El Salvador Men’s National Team. Diaz Arce is a veteran of the El Salvador Men’s National Team, with 16 goals in over 60 appearances, most recently appearing during 2002 World Cup qualifying. While Raul down plays his celebrity saying that most of the kids are too young to really know who he is, a number of El Salvador’s delegation have chatted him up in the lobby the past few days. Diaz Arce has received a number of jokes at his expense from the staff as well due to his small group of fans. One of the best was provided by U.S. team coordinator Tom Norton, who commented that it was like “the parting of the Red Sea” when Diaz Arce walked into a weight room where all the El Salvador players were working out at a nearby hotel. Diaz Arce’s roommate and fellow assistant Tim Mulqueen also commented that Diaz Arce is so big-time now that he has to sleep on the floor as the El Salvadorian celebrity has taken both beds.

Despite all the jokes, Raul definitely isn’t letting his new found celebrity go to his head, as he’s been more than helpful translating for Costa Rican journalists who have wanted to interview head coach John Hackworth the past couple days in the lobby of the hotel. A number of media members have also been surprised to find out that the man helping with the translation is none other than Raul Diaz Arce and that he is now an assistant with the U.S. team. Upon the discovery, the journalist’s faces light up and they quickly asking him to answer a couple questions about the U.S. team as well.

Head coach John Hackworth isn’t just putting his players through a workout during practice, he’s been pushing his staff as well with early morning jogs. On the first morning, Diaz Arce joined Hackworth on a run around the hotel and the assistant coach came back admittedly exhausted after the 50-minute trot, calling Hackworth a “machine.” The following morning, trainer Michael White joined the two coaches as they upped their run to 65 minutes.

As the team ate dinner last night the movie “Victory” was played on a pull-down screen set up in the team’s banquet hall. Most of the players had seen the movie before, and got a laugh out of Sly Stallone’s goalkeeping skills during the final match and his exuberant jig after saving the penalty kick at the end of the game. After dinner, the team had about a half-hour until their birth dates were to be verified by CONCACAF, so the players watched a DVD with a collection of inspirational movie scenes, including “Any Given Sunday,” “Braveheart,” “Rudy” and “Rocky IV.”

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team was surprised to find out that Argentina didn’t advance to the final round of the South American qualifying tournament and will not be making the quick flight to Peru for the FIFA U-17 World Championship this summer. Argentina fell to Uruguay 1-0 early in the first round and then fell apart in the second half in their final match against Peru after heading into halftime with a 2-0 lead, allowing four goals to lose 4-3. Argentina finished fourth in Group B, with Uruguay and Colombia advancing to the final round along with Brazil and Ecuador from Group A. The four teams will play a round-robin schedule to determine which teams will join host Peru as the South American representatives.

“The bad news is the grass on the field is really long, but the good news is you all will get ice cream after practice.”

-- U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth before the team’s final practice which was next to a Dos Pinos factory that makes dairy products such as milk, yogurt and ice cream.


-- U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team defender Eric Lichaj who hadn't seen all the ice cream trucks parked in the factory's parking lot.