The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team continues the task of qualifying for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India on Wednesday, May 3 with its opening Classification Stage clash against Honduras. The match kicks off at Estadio Maracaná in Panama City, Panama, at 4:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Univision Deportes Network (UDN) and on the CONCACAF’s YouTube channel. Fans can also follow along on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.
The U.S. comes into the game after sweeping the initial group stage with victories against Jamaica (5-0), Mexico (4-3) and El Salvador (1-0). Finishing first in Group C play propelled the U.S. into Classification Stage Group D, where the team is joined by Honduras and Cuba. Those two sides squared off in the opening match of the group on Monday night, with Honduras taking a resounding 7-1 victory. The U.S. will follow up Wednesday’s match vs. Los Catrachos with a clash against Cuba on Friday, May 5 at 6:30 p.m.ET
The top two finishers from Classification Group D will automatically punch their tickets to the World Cup, while the first place finisher will also move on to the regional tournament championship on Sunday, May 7 where they will face the winner of Group E, comprised of Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama.
U.S. U-17 MNT ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (2): C.J. Dos Santos (Benfica; Philadelphia, Pa.), Justin Garces (Kendall SC; Miami, Fla.)
DEFENDERS (5): Christopher Gloster (New York Red Bulls; Montclair, N.J.), Jaylin Lindsey (Sporting Kansas City; Charlotte, N.C.), James Sands (New York City FC; Rye, N.Y.), Arturo Vasquez (FC Golden State; Mira Loma, Calif.), Akil Watts (IMG Academy; Fort Wayne, Ind.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): George Acosta (Weston FC; Hollywood, Fla.), Taylor Booth (Real Salt Lake AZ; Eden, Utah), Christopher Durkin (D.C. United; Glen Allen, Va.), Blaine Ferri (Solar Chelsea SC; Southlake, Texas), Christopher Goslin (Atlanta United FC; Locust Grove, Ga.), Indiana Vassilev (IMG Academy; Savannah, Ga.), Adrian Villegas (Portland Timbers; Hood River, Ore.)
FORWARDS (6): Ayomide Akinola (Toronto FC; Brampton, Ont.), Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United FC; Powder Springs, Ga.), Zyen Jones (Atlanta United FC; Clarkston, Ga.), Bryan Reynolds, Jr. (FC Dallas; Little Elm, Texas), Joshua Sargent (Scott Gallagher Missouri; O’Fallen, Mo.) Timothy Weah (Paris Saint-Germain; Rosedale, N.Y.)
USA VS. HONDURAS HISTORY
The U.S. and Honduras Under-17 National Teams have faced each other nine times in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying competition. The USA holds a 7-1-1 advantage in those matches, scoring 26 goals and conceding 10. The first contest came at the inaugural CONCACAF U-17 Championship in 1983 when the USA won 2-0. Honduras’ lone victory came during the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, where they earned a 3-1 quarterfinal victory and denied the USA a place at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
In their most recent meeting during the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, the sides played to a 2-2 draw, which propelled Honduras to the top of their six-team group and an automatic berth at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. The result pushed the U.S. into a do-or-die playoff against Jamaica, where they defeated the Reggae Boyz 5-4 on penalty kicks to earn their World Cup ticket.
SO, WE MEET AGAIN
From February 27 and March 2 of this year, the USA traveled to San Pedro Sula to face Honduras’ U-17s in a series of four games. The USA’s first team defeated Honduras’ in both matches, 3-0 and 5-1, while the reserves split the series, dropping the first match 1-0 before bouncing back to win 3-0 in the second game.
YELLOW CARDS RESET
Per the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship rules and regulations, single yellow cards are eliminated at the end of the Group Stage. This does not include two cautions received in different games of the Group Stage, and any resulting automatic suspension still has to be served in the first game of the Classification Stage. For the USA, this means the clearance of yellow cards for A.J. Vasquez, Indiana Vassilev and Taylor Booth.
After having two players cleared of cautions during the Group Stage, Honduras midfielders Gerson Chavez and Cristian Madrid each picked up yellow cards against Cuba and will need to be careful in Wednesday’s game against the U.S. if they desire to play for their country should Honduras reach the tournament final on May 7.
HONDURAS LOOKING TO CLINCH WORLD CUP BERTH
After opening the first game of the Classification Stage with a 7-1 win against Cuba on Monday, Los Catrachos now need just a draw or win against the USA to lockdown their berth at October’s U-17 World Cup. Monday’s victory against Cuba set a team record for the most goals scored in a CONCACAF U-17 game, as forwards Patrick Palacios and Carlos Mejía paced the side with three goals apiece; the former scored his trio before the halftime whistle. The win moved Honduras to first place in Group D. A win against the USA on Wednesday night would also propel Los Catrachos to the CONCACAF Final.
CARLOS MEJÍA LEADS GOLDEN BOOT CHASE
Entering the Classification Stage, Honduras striker Carlos Mejía was tied with Mexico’s Daniel López for the golden boot lead with four goals each, but following his hat-trick performance against Cuba, he now stands alone with seven goals. Of those, five have come off his left foot in open play, one from a successful penalty kick and one from a put-back following his own penalty kick attempt being blocked.
REACHING THE BIG STAGE
The 2017 edition marks the 17th occasion that the U.S. U-17 MNT will compete in the CONCACAF Youth Tournament or Championship. The USA has won the CONCACAF U-17, formerly U-16, Championship title three times: (1983, 1992, 2011) and finished runner-up five times: (1987, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1996).
In the 17 CONCACAF tournaments from 1983 to 2015, Los Catrachos have qualified for four FIFA U-17 World Cups (2007, 2009, 2013, 2015). The team’s best finish came in 2015, finishing as runner up to Mexico.
JOHN HACKWORTH AS U-17 MNT HEAD COACH
In his second stint as head coach of the U-17 Men’s National, John Hackworth is looking to lead the USA to the FIFA U-17 World Cup for a third time.
Hackworth served as an assistant to John Ellinger, helping the U.S. qualify for the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup before guiding the U.S. to the 2005 and 2007 editions as head coach before departing for other opportunities. The former Philadelphia Union manager returned to the U-17 MNT in December 2015.
The 2017 tournament began in a group stage, with 12 CONCACAF teams split into three four-team groups. After the initial round-robin schedule, the top two teams from each group advanced to the classification stage, featuring two groups with three teams in each. In the second group stage, the top two finishers from each group qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India, while the first-place teams in each group move on to play for the tournament title.