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U.S. Head Coach John Hackworth Names 21-Player Roster for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup

CHICAGO (August 2, 2007) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth has named the 21-player roster that will represent the United States at the 2007 FIFA Under-17 World Cup from Aug. 18-Sept. 9 across eight venues in South Korea.

Hackworth selected the majority of his 21-man roster from the 40 available players in U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 Residency Program based in Bradenton, Fla., with only two players, Tommy Meyer and Daniel Cruz, not currently part of Residency. All of the players on the roster were born on or after Jan. 1, 1990, with five players from the younger 1991 age group – Bryan Dominguez, Gregory Garza, Abdusalam Ibrahim, Zac MacMath and Kofi Sarkodie – earning a spot from Hackworth.

“We felt all along that the talented pool of players in this age group is very deep, making our decisions extremely difficult,” said Hackworth. “However, we feel that we selected players that have proven that they are dedicated to our team’s success at the World Cup.”

The only team to qualify for all 12 FIFA Under-17 World Cups, the U.S. was drawn into Group E of the 24-team tournament with Tajikistan, Tunisia and Belgium. The U.S., one of the six seeded teams in the draw, opens against Tajikistan on August 20 (7 a.m. ET), then faces Tunisia on August 23 (4 a.m. ET) and concludes group play on August 26 against Belgium (3 a.m. ET). The U.S. will play Tajikistan and Tunisia in Changwon before heading to Cheonan to face Belgium.

All 52 matches of the tournament will be broadcast by ESPNU and, with all three of the USA’s group matches being aired live on ESPNU. In addition, the USA’s second match against Tunisia on Thursday, Aug. 23 will be simulcast live on ESPN2 at 3:45 a.m. ET. While only a select number of first round games will be aired on ESPNU, every second round match, which includes the Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, third place and final, will be aired on the 24-hour college sports network. Every live match on ESPNU will be re-aired at a later time to accommodate U.S. viewers.

The roster includes 16 players who were a part of the team that won Group A at the CONCACAF U-17 Final Round Qualifying Tournament in Kingston, Jamaica, earlier this year. The U.S. scored nine goals in four games during qualifying, including three during their shutout victory in their opening game against Trinidad & Tobago. The team then topped Canada, 2-1, before falling to host Jamaica, 3-2, but bounced back to defeat Costa Rica, 2-1, to ensure themselves the top spot in the group.

Forward Ellis McLoughlin leads the team in scoring during the past two years, including the game-winning goal against Costa Rica in qualifying. Joining him up front are Ibrahim, who was drafted by FC Dallas in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, Dominguez and Billy Schuler, who tallied a goal and two assists in qualifying. Relative newcomer Cruz has impressed in his limited time with the U-17s and provides the U.S. with another dangerous threat for opponents.

To go along with a powerful attack, Hackworth also has a solid trio of goalkeepers to call on for the World Cup in MacMath, Josh Lambo and Larry Jackson. MacMath and Lambo, two of the top goalkeepers in the world at this age group, split time during the qualifying tournament.

In front of the goalkeepers will be a pair of defenders, Sheanon Williams and Mykell Bates, who solidified the back line during qualifying, starting all four matches, while Meyer and Brandon Zimmerman both started two games. Chris Klute and Sarkodie were not part of the qualifying roster, but earned a spot during the past three months and saw most of the time in the backline during the team’s most recent international friendly against Germany, a 3-1 U.S. victory.

Seven midfielders complete the impressive roster, including three Texans in Jared Jeffrey, Dane Shea and Garza. Jeffrey and Shea started all four games of qualifying, while Garza started three and scored a goal. In the center of the field, Jeffrey and Daniel Wenzel have been the first-choice starters for Hackworth, with both players near the top in appearances for the U-17s over the past two years. Right midfielder Alex Nimo, who joined Residency in the spring of 2007, quickly gained attention by scoring three goals in four qualifying games and will provide the U.S. with a dangerous threat on the outside. Kirk Urso and Brendan King, both from Ilinois, complement the midfield with a collection of pace, foot skills and international experience.

The Under-17 Men’s National Team is currently training in Clemson, S.C., as they enter the final stages of preparation for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. The camp includes a friendly against fellow World Cup qualifier Costa Rica on Tuesday, Aug. 7, in Atlanta on the campus of Kennesaw State University. The following day, the team will head home to Bradenton for three days before returning to Atlanta on Aug. 11 where they will train for two days and then leave for South Korea on Aug. 13.

In the 11 previous world championships at this age group, the USA’s best finish ever came in New Zealand ‘99, when the U-17s, led by Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu and Bobby Convey, advanced to the semifinals and eventually finished in fourth place.

The 52-match tournament, which will feature 24 teams for the first time as opposed to the previous 16, will take place in eight venues across South Korea - Changwon, Cheonan, Goyang, Gwangyang , Jeju, Seoul, Suwon and Ulsan. The local organizing committee has set itself a number of objectives, one of which is to break the current overall attendance record for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The Korean organizers have kept ticket prices low for all 52 matches (between $9 to $22) in hopes of breaking the record of 735,000, which has stood ever since the inaugural event – a U-16 competition – in China PR in 1985.

This will be the 21st anniversary of the FIFA U-17 World Championship, which has seen a number of talented players begin their careers on the world stage, including Luis Figo, Alessandro Del Piero, Juan Veron, Francesco Totti and Ronaldinho.

U.S. Under-17 MNT ESPN TV Schedule
Date         Opponent    Venue            Kickoff TV
Aug. 20    Tajikistan    Changwon    6:45 a.m. ET    ESPNU
Aug. 23    Tunisia        Changwon    3:45 a.m. ET    ESPN2, ESPNU
Aug. 26    Belguim      Cheonan       2:45 a.m. ET     ESPNU

U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team Roster
2007 FIFA Under-17 World Cup South Korea
August 18 - September 9, 2007

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate Hometown Club
Mykell Bates D 5'9" 170 04/15/90 Roseville, Calif. River City Clash
Daniel Cruz F 5'8" 170 01/03/90 Glendale, Ariz. Sereno Soccer Club
Bryan Dominguez M/F 5'4" 145 03/07/91 Atlanta, Ga. Concorde Fire
Gregory Garza M 5'7" 140 08/16/91 Grapevine, Texas Dallas Texans
Abdusalam Ibrahim F 6'0" 155 08/15/91 Richfield, Minn. FC Dallas (MLS)
Larry Jackson GK 6'0" 165 09/28/90 Palo Alto, Calif. DeAnza Force
Jared Jeffrey M 5'10'' 160 06/14/90 Dallas, Texas Dallas Texans
Brendan King M 5'11" 150 02/25/90 Naperville, Ill. Chicago Magic
Chris Klute D 6'1" 155 03/05/90 Grand Prairie, Texas Dallas Texans
Josh Lambo GK 6'1" 170 11/19/90 Middleton, Wis. Chicago Magic
Zac MacMath GK 6'1" 170 08/07/91 St. Petersburg, Fla. Clearwater Chargers
Ellis McLoughlin F 5'10" 170 07/08/90 Seattle, Wash. Crossfire Premier
Tommy Meyer D 6'2" 170 03/20/90 St. Louis, Mo. Scott Gallagher
Alex Nimo F/M 5'6" 150 03/21/90 Portland, Ore. FC Portland Academy
Kofi Sarkodie D 5'7'' 155 03/22/91 Huber Heights, Ohio Ohio FC Mutiny
Billy Schuler F 5'11" 155 04/27/90 Allentown, N.J. Matchfit Academy
Brek Shea M 6'3" 180 02/28/90 College Station, Texas Texans FC
Kirk Urso M 5'11"  160  03/06/90  Lombard, Ill.  Chicago Sockers 
Daniel Wenzel M/D 5'11"  165 04/13/90  Federal Way, Wash. FC United 
Brandon Zimmerman 5'9" 180  10/06/90 Pasco, Wash.  Crossfire Premier 
Sheanon Williams 5'11"  165  03/17/90  Boston, Mass.  FC Greater Boston Bolts 

Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Josh Lambo (Middleton, Wis.), Zac MacMath (St. Petersburg, Fla.), Larry Jackson (East Palo Alto, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (6): Sheanon Williams (Boston, Mass.), Mykell Bates (Roseville, Calif.), Tommy Meyer (St. Louis, Mo.), Chris Klute (Grand Prairie, Texas), Kofi Sarkodie (Huber Heights, Ohio), Brandon Zimmerman (Pasco, Wash.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Daniel Wenzel (Federal Way, Wash.), Jared Jeffrey (Dallas, Texas), Kirk Urso (Lombard, Ill.), Dane Shea (College Station, Texas), Gregory Garza (Grapevine, Texas), Brendan King (Naperville, Ill.), Alex Nimo (Portland, Ore.)
FORWARDS (5): Ellis McLoughlin (Seattle, Wash.), Bryan Dominguez (Atlanta, Ga.), Abdusalam Ibrahim (FC Dallas.), Billy Schuler (Allentown, N.J.), Daniel Cruz (Glendale, Ariz.)