CHICAGO (February 28, 2007) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will take on El Salvador’s U-17s in the opening match of a doubleheader with the U.S. Men’s National Team on March 25 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The Under-17 match will kick off at 9:15 a.m. ET (gates open at 9 a.m.), followed by the U.S. MNT against Ecuador at 12 p.m. ET.
Following the successful debut of MatchACCESS coverage on ussoccer.com in February at the U.S.-Mexico match, the popular website will broadcast the entire U-17 match live from Raymond James Stadium. Fans can log on to ussoccer.com at 9 a.m. ET to watch live streaming coverage of the match.
MatchACCESS will also include post-match coverage of U.S.-Ecuador, which fans can follow live on ESPN2, Galavision and ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Coverage on ussoccer.com will include exclusive interviews after the match and the post-game press conference with head coach Bob Bradley, beginning at approximately 2 p.m. ET.
More than 13,000 tickets have already been sold for the now doubleheader at Raymond James Stadium, with just under a month to go before the USA’s first match in Tampa Bay in 12 years. Tickets starting at $18 are available through ussoccer.com, area Ticketmaster outlets (including the Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa Theater, the USF Sun Dome, and FYE stores) and by phone at 813-287-8844. Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets by calling U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtaining a group order form at ussoccer.com. The stadium box office will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning on Thursday, March 22. On game day, the box office will be open starting a 8:30 a.m.
The live streaming of the U.S. U-17 MNT match will provide fans with the opportunity to see head coach John Hackworth’s squad as they continue to prepare for Group B of the CONCACAF U-17 Final Round Qualifying Tournament. The five-team, round-robin tournament will take place from April 28 to May 6 in Kingston, Jamaica, with all the matches being played at National Stadium. Along with the host, the U.S. will face Canada, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago (full schedule). The top three teams will advance to the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will take place in South Korea from Aug. 18 to Sept. 9.
El Salvador is in Group A with Haiti, Honduras and Mexico. The top two finishers in the group, which will be played from April 4-8 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, will also qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
"El Salvador will provide us with an excellent test with a little more than a month before we attempt to qualify for the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup,” said Hackworth. “Playing before the full U.S. Men's National Team as part of a doubleheader in a venue such as Raymond James Stadium will be a fantastic atmosphere and it will definitely be a valuable experience for our players, which can only help as we continue our preparations for qualifying.”
The last meeting between the two countries at this age level was during the opening match of Group A of the 2005 CONCACAF U-17 Qualifying Tournament on April 12 in Heredia, Costa Rica. The U.S. won, 3-0, and went on to win the group to earn a berth to the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship.
While the match will be the first in the stadium for both U.S. teams, it will only be a short trip to Tampa for the Under-17s as U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program is located at IMG Academies in nearby Bradenton. Started in 1999, the Residency Program has become a symbol of U.S. Soccer’s dedication to increasing the development opportunities for players and the success of the Youth National Teams. The 40 U.S. players live on campus at the IMG Academies in Bradenton and train daily under the guidance of Hackworth and assistant coaches Keith Fulk, Raul Diaz Arce, Tim Mulqueen and Brian Maisonneuve. (2007 Spring Roster)
Since its inception, 170 players have been through the Residency Program, and more than 60 of those players have moved on to Major League Soccer, or the professional leagues in Europe. Fourteen players have also registered at least one cap with the full MNT: Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Bobby Convey, Landon Donovan, Eddie Gaven, Eddie Johnson, Justin Mapp, Chad Marshall, Oguchi Onyewu, Heath Pearce, Santino Quaranta and Jonathan Spector. Beasley and Donovan both started in the 2002 FIFA World Cup as 20-year-olds, and were joined by Convey, Onyewu and Johnson in 2006.