"I think the team is real anxious to finally get out there and start the qualifying process," Ellinger said. "It definitely makes it interesting having to win the group to advance to the World Championship, but I am very confident of our chances. I think that we can come out and play well in front of what I expect to be a great, pro-American crowd."
Leading the way for the U.S. Under-17s on the offensive end will be the team's only professionals, the Nike Project-40 pair of Ed Johnson and Santino Quaranta. Ed Johnson, who was drafted in February's MLS SuperDraft by the Dallas Burn, leads the U.S. in scoring in 2001, netting 11 goals in the team's first 18 matches. Johnson's stellar start to 2001 comes on the heels of a brilliant 2000, in which he found the net 33 times to go along with 19 assists.
Quaranta, a D.C. United first-round draft pick in 2001, has also gotten off to a hot start this year, tallying ten times and matching Ed Johnson with three multiple-goal games. Last year Quaranta balanced his 23 goals with 22 assists.
The USA is a perfect 3-0 in international matches this year, hammering CONCACAF rivals Honduras twice (4-1, 3-0) and Guatemala once (4-0). Ed Johnson led the way for the U.S., tallying six goals in the three internationals. In his Under-17 career, Johnson has scored 14 goals in 15 international games.
The U.S. team has posted a deceiving 8-7-3 record in 2001, with three losses coming to MLS squads. The three draws have come against the U.S. Under-18 National Team, Wake Forest University and the University of Tampa.
The qualifying tournament in St. Louis will be played as three doubleheaders, with the U.S. playing the nightcap each date. The U.S. opens the tournament on April 18 against Jamaica, before taking on Canada on April 20 and ending the tournament against El Salvador on April 22. The matches will be shown tape delayed on Fox Sports World, and more details about the broadcasts will be released in the following weeks.
The U.S. Under-17s topped Canada 4-1 last August in a friendly at the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. Ed Johnson scored the USA's first goal and assisted on two others in the only match between the U.S. and their Group A opponents in the last two years.
The U.S. defense has allowed just over one goal a game since the team began the residency program in Bradenton, Fla., in January, 2000. Goalkeeper Adam Schuerman became Ellinger's first choice in goal midway through 2000, and has looked sharp ever since. In his last four international matches, Schuerman has allowed only three goals. In front of Schuerman the backline is held together by the two U.S. captains, Gray Griffin and Jordan Harvey. Griffin, a tall central defender, has also shown an ability to go forward, as evidenced by his two goals against Guatemala earlier in the year.
The other CONCACAF qualifying tournament, Group B, takes place in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, from May 2-6 and includes Mexico, Haiti, Costa Rica and the host nation. The top team from Group B will join the top team from Group A as well as host Trinidad & Tobago as the three CONCACAF representatives at the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in September.
The U.S. will arrive in St. Louis on Thursday, April 12, and a match against Saint Louis University is scheduled for April 13. Details on the team's training schedule in St. Louis will be released later this week.
Tickets for the three doubleheaders in St. Louis are on sale and are available at all St. Louis area Ticketmaster outlets, including all Schnucks and Famous Barr locations, or by calling Ticketmaster direct at 314-241-1888 or 618-222-2900.
Advanced tickets can be purchased for $10 (general admission) and $15 (reserved). Series strips to all three match dates can also be purchased in advance for $24 (general admission) and $45 (reserved). For more information, contact U.S. Soccer's Under-17 Ticket Hotline at 312-528-1217.
The Midwest is becoming a popular area for U.S. Soccer in the year 2001, with the first two U.S. Men's National Team home World Cup qualifying matches being staged in America's heartland, including the USA's historic 2-0 win against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio on February 28. The U.S. Men will play their second home qualifier on April 25 in Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium, just three days after the U-17 qualifying comes to a close less than 300 miles away in St. Louis.
Jamaica advanced to the Group A final after storming through Caribbean qualifying. The island nation flew through Group C in the Caribbean Zone, posting three consecutive shutouts and outscoring their opponents 17-0 on their way to the final round of Caribbean qualifying. In the final round, Jamaica did not slow down, posting two more shutouts and winning all three matches by a combined 10-2 margin.
El Salvador captured the Central American (UNCAF) U-17 Championship in Guatemala City by defeating Panama 3-0 in the final day of competition yesterday. El Salvador finished first in the five-nation round-robin competition with a 3-0-1 record to advance to St. Louis.
|U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team Roster|
CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament
April 18-22, 2001
Robert R. Hermann Stadium at Saint Louis University (St. Louis, Mo.)
|16||Capano, Craig||M||5'4"||115||07/07/85||Hyde Park, N.Y.||Putnam Valley Cobras / Roosevelt HS|
|2||Chun, David||D||5'8"||130||03/30/84||Irvine, Calif.||Irvine Strikers / Woodbridge HS|
|17||Diaz, Erwin||F||5'9"||145||07/11/84||Washington, D.C.||Bethesda United / Gonzaga College HS|
|12||Griffin, Gray||D||6'0"||170||01/02/84||Huntersville, N.C.||Charlotte SC / North Mecklenburg|
|8||Harvey, Jordan||D||5'9"||150||01/28/84||Mission Viejo, Calif.||Irvine Strikers / Capistrano Valley HS|
|13||Johnson, David||M||5'11"||160||01/16/84||Riverside, Calif.||AGSS / Poly HS|
|10||Johnson, Edward||F||6'0"||170||03/31/84||Palm Coast, Fla.||Dallas Burn (MLS)|
|4||Johnson, Paul||F||5'9"||150||01/22/84||Princeton, N.J.||SSC Dalglish / Hun School|
|6||Lancos, Chris||D||6'1"||160||07/12/84||Belford, N.J.||Middletown Vipers / Middletown HS|
|7||Magee, Mike||F||5'9"||150||09/02/84||Long Grove, Ill.||Chicago Sockers / St. Viator HS|
|3||Mapp, Justin||M||5'10"||140||10/18/84||Brandon, Miss.||Jackson FC / Northwest Rankin HS|
|14||Marshall, Chad||D||6'2"||165||08/22/84||Riverside, Calif.||Arsenal / Rubidoux HS|
|9||Quaranta, Santino||F||5'11"||155||10/14/84||Baltimore, Md.||D.C. United (MLS)|
|18||Schuerman, Adam||GK||5'10"||180||06/04/84||Brookfield, Wis.||Elmbrook United / Brookfield East HS|
|11||Simo, Chefik||M||5'11"||165||02/28/84||Plano, Texas||Solar / Frisco HS|
|15||Stone, Jordan||M||5'9"||145||03/16/84||Allen, Texas||Dallas Texans / Allen HS|
|5||Wahl, Tyson||D||6'0"||160||02/23/84||Newport Beach, Calif.||Irvine Strikers|
|1||Williams, Ford||GK||6'2"||165||02/20/84||Raleigh, N.C.||CASL Caps Red / Broughton HS|
|Head Coach||John Ellinger||Bradenton, Fla.|
|Assistant Coach||Cameron Rast||San Jose, Calif.|
|Goalkeeper Coach||Peter Mellor||Tampa, Fla.|
|Team Coordinator||Jeff McRaney||Sarasota, Fla.|
|Doctor||Jimmy Gilbert||Silver Spring, Md.|
|Trainer||Brian Goodstein||Sarasota, Fla.|
|Equipment Manager||Beau Abdulla||Bradenton, Fla.|
|Press Officer||Forrest Eber||Chicago|