The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team is preparing to make its 17th appearance in the CONCACAF U-17 Youth Tournament or Championship since the competition’s inception in 1983. As John Hackworth’s side looks to qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India this October, catch up on the history of the USA’s performance in this major youth competition.
U.S. History in the Tournament
The U.S. began participating in CONCACAF’s U-17 regional tournament in 1983, where they were crowned inaugural champions after defeating Trinidad and Tobago 5-3 in penalty kicks following a 0-0 draw. The title saw them earn a place at the inaugural FIFA U-16 World Championship in China two years later.
Two more tournament wins followed in 1992 and in 2011, while the U.S. also finished as runners up five times (1987, 1988, 1991, 1994 and 1996).
Hackworth at the Helm
Current head coach John Hackworth has some experience at this level, having served as an assistant to John Ellinger in 2003 before leading the U-17 MNT at the 2005 and 2007 CONCACAF U-17 Championships. During the first two tournaments that Hackworth was involved, the CONCACAF tournament was formatted with two groups with only those finishing first in their respective groups being granted an automatic berth to the FIFA U-17 World Cup, while the second-place teams battled for the third and final spot from the region.
In 2007, the CONCACAF U-17 Championship remained a two-group setup, with the top two teams receiving automatic berths to the U-17 World Cup. The USA finished first in their respective group during each of the previous years that Hackworth served as either an assistant or head coach.
The 2015 tournament saw the U.S. face one of its toughest World Cup Qualifying challenges. After finishing third in the initial group stage, the U.S. advanced to a win-or-go-home playoff against Jamaica. Having fallen to the Reggae Boyz 1-0 in the group stage, the U.S. played Jamaica to a 0-0 draw before dispatching the Caribbean side 5-4 on penalty kicks to qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-17 Championship in Chile.
A number of future World Cup veterans have competed at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship, including Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu and Kyle Beckerman (all 1999), Eddie Johnson (2001), Jonathan Spector (2003) and Jozy Altidore (2005).
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More recently, current MNT players Greg Garza (2007), Sebastian Lletget, Juan Agudelo and Perry Kitchen (2009), Kellyn Acosta and Paul Arriola (2011) and Christian Pulisic (2015) have also taken part.