CHICAGO (July 25, 2003) — With less than three weeks until the United States Under-17 Men’s National Team kicks off the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, U.S. head coach John Ellinger has selected a squad of 20 players to represent the U.S. at the tournament in Finland from August 13-30. Ellinger has called on all 18 of the players that represented the U.S. during the final round of CONCACAF qualifying in Guatemala in early March.
“All of the players have demonstrated to me and the rest of the coaching staff that they are ready to compete at the World Championship,” Ellinger said. “They have been working toward this for the past two years and are definitely anxious to finally get out there and play. If the players perform at their top level, I am confident we can advance on to the quarterfinals and make a run at the championship.”
The United States, the only nation to qualify for all 10 world championships at this age group, was drawn into Group D and will play all three of its games at Lahti Stadium in Lahti, Finland. The U-17s will face AFC champion South Korea on Aug. 14, CAF runner-up Sierra Leone on Aug. 17 and UEFA runner-up Spain on Aug. 20. Every U.S. match at the World Championship can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
Before arriving in Finland, the U.S. Under-17s will travel to Manchester, England, to play four preparation matches. The U.S. will face Blackburn Rovers FC, Manchester United, Australia and Nigeria during the first week of August. The team will then travel to Lahti, Finland, for a few days of training before its first game against South Korea.
A trio of fantastic players will lead the U.S. offense and try to recreate the USA’s impressive fourth-place finish just four years ago in New Zealand ‘99. 2003 MLS rookies Guillermo Gonzalez and Eddie Gaven, along with 14-year-old sensation Freddy Adu, have combined for 49 goals this year, including more than half of the tallies in international matches (19).
Adu has shown that he is a lethal scoring threat even against older competition. In just 12 international matches this year, he has notched an impressive eight goals and six assists. Adu’s talents during the final round of CONCACAF qualifying put him atop the goal-scoring table with two goals, tied with teammate John DiRaimondo and two others. He also added two assists during the tournament.
Gonzalez and Gaven were both drafted in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft in January, with Gonzalez getting picked by the L.A. Galaxy in the first round (8th overall), and the MetroStars selecting Gaven with the second pick in the second round (12th overall). Both played in their first professional matches in June.
Gaven became the second youngest player to play in a regular season MLS game and the second youngest player to score a goal in the MLS, doing both within a one-month span with the MetroStars. The 16-year-old Gaven got his first professional start on June 14, 2003, against Chicago and scored his first professional goal three weeks later on July 5, notching the game winner against D.C. United in overtime for a 3-2 win. The overtime winner was voted as the Goal of the Week on MLSnet.com. Gonzalez, nicknamed “Memo”, has yet to get his first start, but has come on as a reserve in three games.
The U.S. defense, led by goalkeeper Phil Marfuggi, has established itself as one of the best backlines during the past two years, allowing just 44 goals in 38 international matches and stonewalling their opponents for 12 shutouts. Marfuggi has started in goal for 12 of the past 15 international games and has compiled a 7-2-3 record with six shutouts and only 10 goals allowed.
Central defenders Jonathan Spector and co-captain Brandon Owens lead the U.S. backline, combining for a total of 64 international appearances in the past two years. The biggest strength for the U.S. has been its depth at the outside fullback positions, which has allowed the team to not miss a beat despite injuries this year to regular starters Adrian Chevannes and Chris Germani. During the past few months, Kyle Helton and Steve Curfman have started in the backline and have been able to help the U.S. stifle its opponents.
In 2003, the U.S. Under-17s have posted an overall record of 33-7-9, outscoring their opponents more than three to one (132 goals for, 40 goals against). The team has also compiled an imposing 9-3-3 record in international matches this year (36 goals for, 13 against).
The U.S. qualified for Finland ’03 by taking first place in Group A of the CONCACAF Under-17 final qualifying tournament in Guatemala this past March. The U.S. secured their ticket to the World Championship with an impressive tally of seven goals and two shutouts in their three matches. The U-17s got clean sheets in their opener versus Jamaica (3-0) and in the final against Guatemala (3-0), and battled to a tie against El Salvador (1-1) in between.
The 16-team field at the World Championship will be divided into four groups of four, with the top two teams in each group at the end of the first round qualifying for the quarterfinals. All of the matches during the tournament will be played in Helsinki (Toolo Stadium), Turku (Turku Stadium), Tampere (Ratina Stadium) and Lahti (Lahti Stadium). The FIFA tournament final will be the first ever played on artificial grass at Toolo Stadium, which was recently outfitted with the turf due to Finland’s cold climates and harsh winters.
Fans and media can follow the team’s journey through the World Championship by clicking on FIFA U-17 World Championship at the competitions page of ussoccer.com.
U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team
Manchester, England Preparation Matches
Date Opponent Venue Kickoff
August 2 Blackburn Rovers FC Blackburn 11 a.m. local / 6 a.m. ET
August 4 Australia U-17 Everton 2:30 p.m. local / 9:30 a.m. ET
August 7 Manchester United Manchester United 2 p.m. local / 9 a.m. ET
August 9 Nigeria Manchester United 11 a.m. local / 6 a.m. ET
U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team
FIFA Under-17 World Championship Schedule
Date Opponent Venue Kickoff
August 14 South Korea Lahti 5:30 p.m. local / 10:30 a.m. ET
August 17 Sierra Leone Lahti 3 p.m. local / 8 a.m. ET
August 20 Spain Lahti 8 p.m. local / 1 p.m. ET
August 24 Quarterfinal* Turku / Tampere 2 p.m. or 6 p.m. local / 6 p.m. or 10 a.m. ET
August 27 Semifinal* Tampere / Helsinki 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. local / 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. ET
August 30 Third Place Match* Helsinki 1 p.m. local / 6 a.m. ET
August 30 Final* Helsinki 4 p.m. local / 9 a.m. ET
* If necessary
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate Hometown Club/School
1 Marfuggi, Phil GK 6’0” 185 01/15/86 West Windsor, N.J. PDA United
18 Westberg, Quentin GK 6’0” 165 04/25/86 Saint Cloud, France Troyes, France
20 Sandbo, Stephen GK 6’2” 190 02/23/87 Columbus, Ohio Ohio Thunder
16 Chevannes, Adrian D 5’11” 180 06/17/86 Ft. Worth, Texas Club Dallas
6 Germani, Chris D 5’7” 150 07/10/86 Yardley, Pa. FC Delco
2 Helton, Kyle D 5’7” 155 05/20/86 Alpharetta, Ga. Atlanta Fire
5 Owens, Brandon D 6’0” 170 01/23/86 Murrieta, Calif. La Jolla Nomads
3 Spector, Jonathan D 6’0” 180 03/01/86 Arlington Heights, Ill. Manchester United, England
14 Valentin, Julian D 5’10” 175 02/23/87 Lancaster, Pa. FC Delco
15 Ashe, Corey M/F 5’5” 140 03/14/86 Virginia Beach, Va. Beach FC Impact
12 Curfman, Steven M 5’11” 150 10/08/86 Raleigh, N.C. CASL Elite
8 DiRaimondo, John M 5’6” 150 04/23/86 St Louis, Mo. Busch SC
4 Gaven, Eddie M/F 6’0” 150 10/25/86 Hamilton, N.J. Nike Project-40 (MLS)
10 Gonzalez, Guillermo M/F 5’11” 160 01/04/86 Paramount, Calif. Nike Project-40 (MLS)
7 Grazier, Brian M 6’0” 165 03/17/86 Edwardsville, Ill. Metro FC
9 Harrington, Michael M/F 6’0” 165 01/24/86 Greenville, N.C. CASL Elite
17 Szetela, Daniel M 5’11” 170 06/17/87 Clifton, N.J. World Class Olympic
11 Adu, Freddy F 5’8’ 150 06/02/89 Potomac, Md. Bethesda Int’l
13 Watson, Jamie F 5’9” 150 04/10/86 Coppell, Texas Dallas Comets
19 Peterson, Jacob F 5’10” 160 01/27/86 Portage, Mi. Michigan Wolves
National Team Staff
Head of Delegation: David Messersmith (Garland, Texas)
Head Coach: John Ellinger (Bradenton, Fla.)
Assistant Coach: John Hackworth (Bradenton, Fla.)
Assistant/Goalkeeper Coach: Peter Mellor (Longboat Key, Fla. )
Manager: jeff McRaney (Palmetto, Fla.)
Doctor: Jimmy Gilbert Silver (Spring, Md).
Team Coordinator/Equipment: RJ Noto (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Press Officer: Neil Buethe (Chicago, Ill.)
Trainer: Jacob Joachim St. (Petersburg, Fla.)
Trainer: Michael White (Chicago, Ill.)
Security: Gene Williams (LaCrosse, Va.)