Preview: U-17 MNT Eyes World Cup Berth, CONCACAF Final Place vs. Cuba

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 Friday, May 5 with its decisive classification stage match against Cuba. The group finale kicks off at Estadio Maracaná in Panama City, Panama at 6:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Univision Deportes Network and on the CONCACAF YouTube channel. Fans can also follow along on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.

Coming on the heels of Wednesday’s pivotal 3-0 win against Honduras, the U.S. can qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup with a win, draw or loss by four or less goals in Friday’s group finale against Cuba, while a win or draw would also secure the USA’s spot in Sunday’s tournament final. With three points, the U.S. currently sits on top of classification stage Group D thanks to CONCACAF’s head-to-head tie breaker. Despite their loss to the USA, Honduras has already clinched their spot in the World Cup. A USA loss to Cuba by a maximum of eight goals would also send Los Catrachos to Sunday’s Final, while anything over eight would send Cuba to the championship match.

Group Standings and Advancement Scenarios

2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Classification Group D

Team

GP

W

L

D

Pts.

GF

GA

GD

USA

1

1

0

0

3

3

0

+3

Honduras

2

1

1

0

3

7

4

+3

Cuba

1

0

1

0

0

1

7

-6

Schedule/Results:
May 1Honduras 7, Cuba 1
May 3 – USA 3, Honduras 0
May 5 – USA vs. Cuba – 7 p.m. ET

For the USA to Qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup

For the USA to Clinch a Berth in the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final

For Cuba to Qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup

For Cuba to Clinch a Berth in the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final

Per CONCACAF’s tournament regulations, tie-breaking procedures are determined as follows:                              

USA VS. CUBA HISTORY

The USA and Cuba Under-17 National Teams have faced each other eight times in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifying competition. The U.S. holds a 6-2-0 advantage in the series, including winning the last three meetings in 2009, 2011 and 2015.

In 2015, the two sides faced each other during the tournament’s group stage. The game was the first of the competition for both teams and the USA had little trouble, defeating Los Leones del Caribe 5-0. The USA would go on to a playoff stage, where they advanced to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile after defeating Jamaica 5-4 on penalties.

USA CAPTAIN JOSH SARGENT CHASING GOLDEN BOOT

After his brace against Honduras, USA forward Josh Sargent currently sits two goals behind Honduras striker Carlos Mejía, who leads all players with seven goals.

The last USA player to win the tournament’s Golden Boot was Andrew Oliver who, in 2011, tied with two other players with four goals as the USA went on to win the regional title.

KEEPING AN EYE ON YELLOW CARDS

Per the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship rules and regulations, single yellow cards were eliminated at the end of the group stage. This allowed both the USA and Cuba to play with clean slates against Honduras. With both teams vying for a spot in Sunday’s final, the two rosters must now keep an eye on any additional yellow cards received during Friday’s match, which would result in a suspension from the championship match.

For the USA, midfielder Chris Goslin must tread carefully Friday after receiving a yellow card in the sixth minute against Honduras, while Cuba’s Karel Aldair Espino Contreras, Carlos Molina López and Ribaldo Roldán Moreno are also on caution watch. Cuba midfielder Omar Pérez Ramírez received a red card during Monday’s 7-1 loss vs. Honduras and will be ineligible to play against the USA.

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.)

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), finished runner-up five times: (1987, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1996) and qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup (formerly FIFA World Championship) 15 times (1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015). The first and only time the USA has missed out on qualifying for the World Cup came in 2013.

Of the ten CONCACAF tournaments, that they have qualified for and participated in, Cuba has won once (1988) and qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup twice (1989, 1991).

TOURNAMENT FORMAT

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.

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.

EYES ON INDIA 2017

The U.S. has qualified for 15 FIFA U-17 World Cups and has their sights set on No. 16 in 2017. The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India will be held from October 6-28 in Kochi, Goa, Navi Mumbai, New Delhi, Guwahati, and Kolkata. The final draw for the tournament will be held July 7 in Mumbai.