CHICAGO (May 2, 2015) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams has named a 20-player roster for the team’s first domestic training camp of 2015 in East Hanover, New Jersey.
The camp will run from May 2-11, and the team will hold practice at New York Red Bulls’ practice facility. This will mark the first time the team gathers in a full time capacity since it competed at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Honduras earlier this year.
The team finished CONCACAF qualifying with a 3-1-2 record to secure a spot in the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, following a thrilling 5-4 shootout victory over Jamaica on March 15. The 2015 U-17 World Cup will be held from Oct. 17-Nov. 8 in Chile.
The U.S. has qualified for 15 FIFA U-16 or U-17 World Championships. The 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup was the only occurrence wherein the USA did not qualify for the tournament. The USA’s best performance was a fourth-place finish at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand.
U.S. U-17 MNT Roster by Position: Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond United; Mechanicsville, Va.), Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy; Bethlehem, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (7): Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy Academy; Norwalk, Calif.), Matt Constant (Dallas Texans; Carrollton, Tex.), Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake Academy; Nashville, Tenn.), John Nelson (Internationals; Medina, Ohio), Logan Panchot (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; St. Louis Mo.), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union Academy; Media, Pa.), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls II; Wappinger Falls, N.Y.), George Braima (Columbus Crew Academy; Columbus, Ohio), Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal; Palmdale, Calif.), Terrell Lowe (Portland Timbers Academy; Hillsboro, Ore.), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy; Trenton, N.J.), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas; El Paso, Tex.)
FORWARDS (5): Pierre da Silva (Orlando City SC Academy; Port Chester, N.Y.), Mckinze Gaines (Lonestar SC; Austin, Tex.), Josh Perez (Unattached; La Habra, Calif.), Brandon Vazquez (Club Tijuana; Chula Vista, Calif.), Haji Wright (New York Cosmos; Los Angeles, Calif.)
- In addition to the matches during CONCACAF qualifying, the U-17s have played four international matches in 2015. The U.S. split a two-game set against Panama on Feb. 2 and 4, then showcased a strong offensive display with a 5-2 victory against Bermuda on Friday, Feb. 20, followed by a 4-0 win in a rematch two days later.
- Fifteen players from this roster were a part of the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship roster
- Josh Perez scored four goals and tallied an assist for the U.S. in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
- Goalkeeper William Pulisic started in all six games of that tournament.
- Perez has scored six goals in 2015, the most of any U-17 MNT player. He also boasts a roster-leading three assists on the year
- Haji Wright is the most experienced player of the group having earned 34-career caps with the U-17 Men’s National Team
- Wright was the leading goal scorer for the U-17s last year with 18 goals in 22 matches and was a nominee for the 2014 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year award.
- Much of this U-17 MNT roster played a big role in the USA’s 17-7-3 international campaign in 2014. Matt Constant, Terrell Lowe, Auston Trusty and Brandon Vazquez joined the team in 2015
- Fourteen players from this roster were a part of the team that earned a runner-up finish in the 2014 Nike Friendlies.
- Nineteen of the 20 players have ties to the Development Academy
Photos from the U.S. U-17 MNT's dramatic playoff win against Jamaica, 5-4 on penalty kicks, to claim a berth at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile this October.
2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Quote Sheet
USA 0, JAM 0; USA wins penalty shootout 5-4
March 15, 2015
U-17 MNT head coach RICHIE WILLIAMS
On qualifying for the World Cup after the penalty kick shootout:
"My thoughts are, ‘We qualified for the World Cup.’ That’s what we came here to do. I thought it was a great tournament. I thought we did very well, and I’m extremely proud of our players. They work extremely hard, they’re a good team. We had a couple setbacks, but they didn’t give up. I thought they played extremely well this evening. Obviously we couldn’t get the goal, but they did a great job in the penalty shootout and we’re going to Chile.”
On if it would have been a disaster had the U.S. not qualified for the World Cup:
"It wouldn’t be a disaster. But our goal was to qualify, so we had faith that we were going to qualify. People do not understand how difficult it is. Again, we were close in the Honduras game, and then the last Jamaica game and then this game reached our goal and got into the tournament, the World Cup. Again I’m extremely proud of the team, extremely proud of the whole group – our staff, everybody that has worked incredibly hard over the year-and-a-half with this group of players. We accomplished what we set out to do, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup. We’re just extremely happy.”
On what Jamaica was able to do to hold the USA scoreless for two matches:
“I think in the first game, in the first half we created six clear chances. We just didn’t take our chances. Probably, overall in the game, we had eight to 10 chances and were not able to finalize. And then, when they got their penalty, they sat back and made it very difficult on us. So the first game, we had chances but we couldn’t score. And in the second game, I thought we created chances also. I thought they sat back and tried to catch us on the counter attack. They have some big, athletic defenders and their goalkeeper who made it difficult. Overall they have a good team that fights hard and works extremely hard. They should be very proud of that. They kept us off the scoreboard tonight, but again, we were able to win on the penalties.”
On what it means to get the U.S. team back to the World Cup after an absence last time around:
“We’re extremely excited. Unfortunately, Honduras beat us last time around, and this time we’re able to go. That was our goal, to qualify for the World Cup. Now we go with all intentions to go and try to win the World Cup.”
On the character of the players and how good it feels to see them so happy:
“I love these guys. They’re great players, they’re great people. We’ve worked together now for a year-and-a-half. I’ve coached some of them even when they were at the U-14s and U-15s and I’ve seen them grow as players and as individuals. They’re not just great players, they’re great people also. They work extremely hard and are talented, and they’ve been very, very successful. We want to continue that over the next six months or so until the World Cup. My message to them is that one day we’ll be seeing them on the U-20s and our senior team, and that they have great careers ahead of them.”
U-17 MNT forward JOSH PEREZ
On qualifying for the World Cup:
"It feels great, it’s so exciting. I think we’ve earned this opportunity to go to Chile, and I think we’ll do really, really well in the World Cup. I think we deserved this spot in the World Cup.”
On the game in general and the team’s mindset:
“From the very first minute, we were very confident, feeling that we were going to win the game. Unfortunately, the goals didn’t come; we were just unlucky. But, we got it to PKs and we knew to trust ourselves and have confidence in all of us. We executed and were able to win and qualify for the World Cup.”
U-17 MNT defender JOHN NELSON
On the team’s emotions after qualifying for the World Cup:
“It’s a great feeling; I still can’t believe what we did. Working for these 18 months up to this moment – we did it and we’re going to the World Cup!”
On the difficulties of the match:
“We had a game plan going into the game to try and get the first goal, but that didn’t happen. We were unfortunately not able to score a goal, but we grinded it out and won in PKs.”
On what the last 18 months have been like:
“Our families have made all these sacrifices; everyone has made sacrifices by being away from home. We finally got to be in this moment, and we did it. It just feels great.”
U-17 MNT defender DANNY BARBIR
On qualifying for the World Cup:
“This team has been working so hard for the last year-and-a-half, and honestly I think we deserve it. We’ve done so much, from all the trips and camps, we prepared so good for this tournament. We got the result, we’re going to the World Cup.”
On how it was decided that he was taking a penalty kick:
“I told Richie, ‘I’m going third.’ I was so confident in myself; we were all confident in each other. But, I was a forward my whole life, and I was feeling good and confident. It was an unbelievable feeling to be able to help my team out with that goal.”
U-17 MNT forward JOE GALLARDO
On accomplishing the team’s goal in the tournament:
“We’re just really happy that we were able to qualify for the World Cup. So thankful to God, and so happy that we worked as a team, and in the end, it all paid off.”
On his thoughts about the game:
“It was unfortunate that we couldn’t get a goal in the game, but we were working really hard and never gave up. Thankfully we won in PKs.”
On overcoming the injury and coming back to be part of the team that qualified for the World Cup:
“It’s honestly the best feeling in my life, honestly the best moment.”
U-17 MNT midfielder ALEJANDRO ZENDEJAS
On his thoughts about the game:
“It was a really good game. Jamaica is a really good team, and they made it difficult on us. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a goal, but we didn’t stop fighting until the end, so I was happy with our team. And then, we were able to win on PK’s; now we’re going to the World Cup!”
On the decision about who would take penalty kicks and taking his shot:
“Richie asked us who was confident, and so we raised our hands, and I was one of them. I put the ball down and it took a while to get it settled. When (the referee) blew his whistle, the ball moved. So I stopped and once I saw it wasn’t moving, I shot it. I was kind of off balance but fortunately it went in.”
On how he can maintain his high level of endurance:
“I get it from my brother; he’s the one who pushes me. He’s always been like that, and every time he’d work out he’d always push me to the max.”
U-17 MNT midfielder ERIC CALVILLO
On accomplishing the goal of qualifying for the World Cup:
“We knew we had a great team, a very talented team. Most of us have been together for a long time, so that chemistry really helped. We’ve been preparing for this day – to qualify – for a long time. We wanted to feel this feeling that we’re feeling right now, which is the best feeling in our lives so far. This is what we wanted. This is why we did what we did so that we could qualify for the World Cup.”
U-17 MNT midfielder TYLER ADAMS
On the team’s mentality throughout the match:
“I think we all knew it was going to be a close game after losing to them 1-0 last week. We knew what they were going to do, so we had to adapt our style of play. I think we had the right mentality of just attacking and keeping the ball in their half. The goals didn’t come tonight, but we came to penalties and we had confidence in all of our players and in Will (Pulisic). I think that [belief] had a big impact on how we came out with the win.”
On qualifying for the World Cup:
“There’s no better feeling. I think we became more than friends – we’ve been a family for the past year-and-a-half. We worked so hard for this, all the preparation, and the huge process that everyone’s put into this is unbelievable. I think what we can all take away from this is that we had one job when we came down here, and that was to qualify, and that’s what we did.”
On switching from left back in the last match to holding midfield tonight:
“Richie (Williams) has confidence in me to put me wherever is needed. It gives me a chance to be a versatile player and make an impact, and I’m confident in wherever I play because I practice in the positions a lot.”
U-17 MNT defender ALEXIS VELELA
On the team’s mindset throughout the match:
“We were just waiting for that goal to come. We did everything from the back to the front to try to get a goal, but it just wouldn’t come. And then going to PKs, we were confident that each one of us was going to do good because we’re good players and we believe in each other.”
On what was going through his mind as he stepped up to take the sixth and final penalty kick:
“There was a lot going through my mind. I was walking up and was like, 'I gotta make this PK.' I wanted to forget about everything and just focus on the PK, and score. And I did. It was such a good feeling."
“And then we got together and we were just confident that Will was going to come up with a big save. When the Jamaican player hit it wide, we just went running up to Will and celebrating because we had made it.”
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (March 15, 2015) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team is headed to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup after beating Jamaica 5-4 in a penalty-kick shootout in the final 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship playoff match at Estadio Francisco Morazán. The game was decided by penalty kicks after the end of a goalless regulation period against the Caribbean nation.
Throughout the match, the U.S. dominated possession and largely dictated the run of play. Despite being the more aggressive team, the USA was unable to find the back of the net through 90 minutes, as Jamaica escaped a handful of dangerous U.S. chances.
Per the tournament regulations, no extra time period was held and the match moved immediately to penalty kicks, where the U.S. had to overcome seeing its first shot taker, Christian Pulisic, denied by Jamaica goalkeeper Jahmali Waite. The next five penalty takers: Joe Gallardo, Danny Barbir, Alejandro Zendejas, John Nelson and Alexis Velela scored for the USA, which took a lead into the sixth round of the shootout thanks to Jamaica’s second shooter Jahwani Hinds sailing his shot over the bar. With all the pressure on Jamaica after Velela gave the USA a 5-4 lead in the first sudden death round of the shootout, Alex Marshall sent his shot wide left of the goal and the USA claimed the all-important victory.
In the day’s other semifinal – a rematch of Group B contestants Canada and Costa Rica – the Ticos seized CONCACAF’s third berth to the U-17 World Cup with a 3-0 win, flipping the group stage result between the two teams when Canada won 3-2 in dramatic fashion late in the match. Later on Sunday, Mexico and tournament host Honduras, both of whom secured the confederation’s two automatic World Cup berths by virtue of winning their respective groups, meet to crown the champion of the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
JAM – Jahmali Waite, 37th minute: The U.S. regained the upper hand at the 30-minute mark after Jamaica had gained a slight foothold in the match. A free kick by Christian Pulisic created a scramble in front of the Jamaica goal as three separate USA chances were blocked. U.S. forward Haji Wright sent the ball across the goalmouth from the by-line with Waite making a diving punch to knock it away. However, the loose ball fell to U.S. midfielder Tyler Adams whose goal-bound shot was blocked by a Jamaica defender. The USA’s Josh Perez seized on the rebound, but also saw his shot blocked as Jamaica had 10 players packed in its own penalty area.
JAM – Jahmali Waite, 74th minute: The U.S. continued to dominate the run of play and possession in the second half and was able to carve out a pair of chances on goal through Josh Perez. A long-range drive from Perez was corralled by Waite midway through the half. Moments later, the Jamaica goalkeeper found himself in no-man’s land faced with a one-v-one against the U.S. winger. Despite the goal left wide open, Perez was unable to chip Waite, who backpedaled quickly after cutting off his charge, and was able to pluck Perez’s shot from the air.
JAM – Jahmali Waite, (Penalty Shootout): Christian Pulisic stepped as the first kick-taker for the USA in the shootout. The attacking midfielder sent a shot toward the left hand side of the goal, but Waite got down quickly to push the shot away and give Jamaica an early edge in the shootout.
Next on the Schedule:
The U-17 MNT begins preparation for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. Much of the team will return to Residency at the IMG Sports complex in Bradenton, Florida, while the remaining players will return to their club teams.
Broadcast information: None.
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_ynt; @ussoccer_esp)
- The U-17 MNT is 6-2-2 in international play this year.
- The USA moved to 3-2-2 all-time against Jamaica in this tournament’s history.
- With the win, the USA qualifies the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the first time since 2011, and its 15th World Cup overall at this age level.
- Head coach Richie Williams sent out his starting lineup in a 4-3-3 formation, anchored by goalkeeper Will Pulisic and a defensive line of Matthew Olosunde at right back, John Nelson at left back and center backs Alexis Velela and Danny Barbir. W. Pulisic and Olosunde have started in every qualifying match, while Barbir started his second game after Hugo Arellano was suspended for the match due to caution accumulation.
- The midfield trio featured Tyler Adams pushed up into a defensive midfield roll after playing at left back for the majority of the USA’s last game against Jamaica. Alejandro Zendejas was slotted alongside Adams, while Christian Pulisic continued in his normal attacking role.
- Zendejas donned the captain’s armband, becoming the third player for the U.S. to do so in the tournament. Hugo Arellano served as captain in four matches, while Eric Calvillo was named captain for the USA’s game against Guatemala.
- Up front, Joe Gallardo returned to the starting XI as the team’s center forward while Haji Wright continued on the left wing and Josh Perez on the right. All three players earned their fifth starts in six qualifying games.
- With just under 10 minutes remaining, midfielder Luca de la Torre entered the match for Josh Perez. It was de la Torre’s sixth appearance at the tournament and the first time he came off the bench for the U.S. since its opening match against Cuba.
- U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Match Report -
U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team vs. Jamaica U-17 Men’s National Team
Date: March 15, 2015
Competition: 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship; Playoff
Venue: Estadio Francisco Morazan
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET (5 p.m. Local)
Weather: 84 degrees, clear
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F PKs
USA 0 0 0 5
JAM 0 0 0 4
USA – Christian Pulisic (saved), Joe Gallardo (goal), Danny Barbir (goal), Alejandro Zendejas (goal), John Nelson (goal), Alexis Velela (goal)
JAM – Nicholas Nelson (goal), Jahwani Hinds (missed), Jahlanie Hammond (goal), Shandel Senior (goal), Ajeanie Talbott (goal), Alex Marshall (missed)
USA: 1-Will Pulisic, 2-Matthew Olosunde, 4-Alexis Velela, 15-Danny Barbir, 3-John Nelson; 18-Tyler Adams, Alejandro Zendejas (Capt.), 10-Christian Pulisic, 7-Haji Wright, 9-Joe Gallardo, 11-Josh Perez (8-Luca de la Torre, 81)
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Kevin Silva, 6-Eric Calvillo, 13-McKinze Gaines, 14-Tanner Dieterich, 16-Tommy McCabe, 17-Pierre Da Silva, 19-Brandon Vazquez
Head coach: Richie Williams
13-Jahmali Waite, 2-Javian Brown, 4-Shandel Senior (Capt.), 5-Jahwani Hinds, 6-Fabian Grant, 7-Peter Vassell (3-Donovan Dawkins, 59), 8-Tajea Brown
(16-Jahlanie Hammond, 88), 9-Nicholas Nelson, 11-Zaire Bartley (10-Alex Marshall, 46), 17-Ajeanie Talbott, 19-Nathaniel Adamolekun
Substitutions Not Used: 1-Akeem Chambers, 12-Antoniel Mullings, 14-Hakim Williams, 15-Deshane Beckford, 18-Chris-Andrew Dixon, 20-Demar James
Head coach: Andrew Edwards
Stats Summary: USA / JAM
Shots: 17 / 4
Shots on Goal: 8 / 1
Saves: 1 / 8
Corner Kicks: 9 / 1
Fouls: 10 / 9
Offside: 1 / 0
USA – Haji Wright (caution) 70th minute
USA – Alexis Velela (caution) 83
JAM – Tajea Brown (caution) 88
Referee: Oscar Moncada (HON)
Assistant Referee 1: Omar Leiva (HON)
Assistant Referee 2: Marco Diaz (GUA)
Fourth Official: Mario Escobar (GUA)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Alejandro Zendejas
At first glance U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team midfielder Christian Pulisic is your average 16 year-old American.
He’s 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds, likes videos games and movies, and is going through the challenges of high school.
But, there are few other kids his age who have trained with youth programs at such world-renowned clubs as Barcelona, Chelsea, Porto, Villareal, or PSV Eindhoven. Or who have trained with Germany stars Mats Hummels and Marco Reus at Borussia Dortmund. Or who have had a six-second highlight clip of an elastic nutmeg reach nearly a half million views.
“I’m no different than any other average kid,” Pulisic said sheepishly. “I’m often just laying on my bed watching Netflix. I love hanging out with my friends, but I also like being alone. I’m a family guy. I’ll do anything to spend time with my family. I love playing FIFA, of course. And I love playing NHL right now.”
But on the field, Pulisic is anything but average.
With a father who played professional indoor soccer in the United States, Christian developed a love for soccer at an early age. And through his dad’s connections, Christian was exposed to soccer in other countries starting in third grade – setting the table for where he is now.
As a youngster playing soccer for Michigan Rush and then at U.S. Soccer Development Academy side PA Classics near his hometown of Hershey, Pennsylvania, Christian would often go on week-long training stints with the youth programs of well known teams across Europe.
“I just loved the game so much and my dad would tell me about these opportunities, and I wanted to take everything that I could,” he remembers. “I was really young at the time. It was just to get that great experience, so I’d go in and train with youth teams all over the world and see how they do it.”
While he watched soccer on TV, he didn’t play the sport thinking of a becoming a professional. For him, it was just for fun.
“I just loved to play,” he said with a shrug. “I loved to travel and experience new things around the world. I knew about the big clubs that I was going to, but I didn’t really think of it and I was so young I knew I’d have plenty of time.”
But that next phase of his soccer career began to take shape when National Team scouts saw him playing for PA Classics U-16. He was invited to an 80-person U.S. Under-14 camp.
Christian Pulisic celebrates scoring against England at the 2014 Nike International Friendlies tournament in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
“From my first National Team cycle, they’ve started me at the ten spot,” he said. “Obviously we had bigger, faster wingers than me, so I think that’s were I kind of converted. They saw that I was a technical player and what I could do in the middle. Ever since then I’ve just loved it and continued to play there.”
Now a little older, and with his country’s crest on his shirt, Christian also began thinking of what else could be achieved.
“I had always loved watching the National Team. I remember watching World Cups and cheering for them, because it was my country,” said Pulisic, who looked up to Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, like so many youth soccer players in the USA. “And when I first realized there was an under-14 program for the National Team, I thought how amazing it would be to be there and represent my country and do what I loved to do.”
He’s never lost the eye for the international game that his dad helped develop in him from a young age. “Wayne Rooney has always been one of my favorite players - I just think his competitiveness really shows when he plays. And, I know that it’s kind of random, but Luis Figo was one of my favorite players when I was younger,” he said of the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year from Portugal. “I loved watching him when he was at Real Madrid. My dad, to this day, still calls me Figo.”
In 2013, Christian joined the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida. His aim was to be part of the team that would try to qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup. But along the way, his path took a slight turn.
Unbeknownst to him at the time, scouts from German Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund had watched the U.S. defeat Brazil, 4-1, in the final of the 2013 Nike Friendlies, where Christian took home the Most Valuable Player honors.
The next month, in January 2014, Dortmund sent scouts to the Aegean Cup tournament in Turkey. The U.S. U-17s defeated France and Norway and drew with Scotland before defeating the host nation to claim the championship.
“It seems they really liked me there, and that’s where it started getting real big,” he said of Dortmund’s interest. “They wanted to get me in for a trial.”
It didn’t take long from there.
“After the first year of residency ended, I went to Germany to see what it was like, and that’s when I pretty much knew that was what I wanted,” he said. “It was just too good of an opportunity.”
Christian and his father moved to Germany in July 2014. While he awaited his Croatian citizenship documents, facilitated through his Croatian grandfather, to make him eligible to play Bundesliga youth matches, Christian trained with Dortmund’s U-17 and U-19 teams and played in whatever friendlies he was able to.
And three weeks after he arrived, Christian began school in Germany.
“When I first went over there my dad talked to me about starting a Rosetta Stone to try to learn the language a bit,” he said. “But I said, ‘if I’m doing this, I’m jumping right in.’
“When I showed up to the school, the other kids on my team had to tell the teachers, ‘He doesn’t speak German’,” Christian said, laughing. “It was really tough at first, but after time you pick it up and it gets easier.”
In the meantime, he also stayed closely connected to the U.S. U-17s, joining the team for tournaments in Mexico, Panama and Chile, as well as the annual Nike Friendlies in December in Florida. In all he appeared in 27 international matches and scored 18 goals in 2014.
Christian Pulisic at the 2014 Nike International Friendlies.
Now eligible to play Bundesliga youth matches with Dortmund’s U-17 team, Christian was invited to train with the professional side in February.
“All the coaches at Dortmund communicate to each other,” he said. “It’s pretty incredible how the first team coach and staff know about all the youth players. The coaches recommend players when another coach has a need for that day. It was my turn to go.”
Dortmund’s U-17 team normally has Tuesdays off. And on this particular day, it just happened that the first team was training, needing a player in order to be able to train 11v11.
“My coach Hannes Wolf called me and said, ‘Tuesday you have a great opportunity,’ and that it was up to me,” Christian said of how he found out. “I said, of course, I would love to do that. I met him there and he took me over to the first team’s fields.”
For the previous few months, Christian and his teammates would watch the senior team practice over the small fence that separate the U-17s fields from the field used by the professional side. Now he was on the other side of that fence.
“My coach told me before, ‘You can’t be going in there like a fan. You have to go in there and look at these guys and act like you’re one of them’,” Pulisic said. “That’s what I tried to do. Obviously in my head, I was like ‘Wow, that’s Marco Reus.’ But, you just have to do your own thing and that’s how they’ll respect you.”
The day began with a routine warm-up passing drill, and then 11v11 from one 18 to the other. Christian was asked to play in the midfield on the second team, often encountering starting midfielder Nuri Şahin or newcomer Kevin Kampl.
“When I first got called in I was thinking, ‘These guys are pros, am I good enough to play with them?’” When you go there, obviously you can see how good and how talented they all are. Then you realize, ‘Ok, I’ve really worked at this. I can hang with these guys.’”
“Obviously, physically I’m behind – I have to get there. But, you can see that they’re really talented soccer players that I was able to play with them.”
While he fit in and received positive reviews from manager Jurgen Klopp, he recalls one particular play above all others.
“I remember when (Mats) Hummels was kind of dribbling out of the back,” Christian said, with a quiet laugh. “He kind of took a touch by me and I tried to put my shoulder in there, but I was lightly pushed aside – I didn’t really affect his run much.”
By the end of the day, Christian was still himself. Having enjoyed the opportunity, but grounded and comfortable knowing that he was on the right path.
“With one training you can’t look at it like you’re that close to going to the first team again,” he said. “It’s not even close – I have to earn so much more. It was cool to get that experience, but I’m just going to keep moving forward with my team. I just want to try to earn a starting spot every week by earning it in training.”
Still only 16 years old, he now does have dreams he hopes to accomplish as a soccer player.
“Obviously my goal – I want to play on the senior National Team,” he said. “I think every kid would. But, I’m just doing my best for this (U-17 MNT) team now.
“It would be really cool to qualify for the World Cup. That’s what we’ve aimed for and everyone has made sacrifices. We want to continue the U.S. success and we look at this as our team. We want to do the best we can.”
CHICAGO (March 12, 2015) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will play Jamaica in a playoff match on Sunday, March 15, at 7 p.m. ET at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship for a chance to earn a berth to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup. The match will be broadcast on FOX Sports 2, FOX Sports Go and Univision Deportes. Fans can also follow on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt using #USAvJAM.
Following the completion of group stage play, the four teams that finished second and third in their respective groups were reseeded and will now need a playoff win to secure the last two CONCACAF spots in the U-17 World Cup.
The four teams advancing to the playoffs are Canada (3-1-1; 10 points, plus-4 goal differential), Costa Rica (3-1-1; 10 points, plus-8), Jamaica (3-1-1; 10 points, plus-4) and the United States (3-1-1; 10 points, plus-9). Because all four teams finished with the same amount of points and not all of them faced each other, the first playoff tiebreaker used for reseeding was goal differential in all group matches. Because two teams were tied on goal differential, the No. 3 and 4 seeds were determined based on total goals scored in the tournament.
Playoff Stage Reseeding
2. Costa Rica
By virtue of winning their groups, Group A winner Honduras and Group B winner Mexico secured automatic berths to the FIFA U-17 World Cup and will play each other in the title match of the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship on Sunday, March 15, at 10 p.m. ET. As the No. 1 seed, the USA will play Jamaica, the No. 4 seed, setting up a rematch between the two countries following the USA’s 1-0 loss on March 11. No. 2 seed Costa Rica and No. 3 seed Canada will play for the other World Cup spot in the earlier playoff game at 4 p.m. ET.
2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Quote Sheet
USA 0, JAM 1
March 11, 2015
U-17 MNT head coach RICHIE WILLIAMS
On the loss to Jamaica:
"We’re obviously very disappointed to lose the match in the way that we lost it, to lose any match. As we said, every team is competitive. With the amount of chances that we had, and didn’t score, and then to give up the one goal, we’re disappointed.”
On if the U.S. became unsettled after Jamaica scored:
"Yes, probably, because they figured they needed a goal. Maybe going forward too quickly and trying to get a goal right away when we had time left, so, possibly. We still had some chances and we just didn’t get it done.”
On the team not having the same possession as previous games, and if the physical nature of Jamaica affected the USA:
“I thought we had plenty of possession in the first half, and we had chances. That’s when you need to score, and we didn’t do that. In terms of the physicality, I think we were able to create opportunities and didn’t take the opportunities. The physicality part, if we take our chances early then we win the game.”
On how to regroup the team for the match on Sunday against a difficult opponent:
“They have another opportunity. With the format the way it is, we have a game on Sunday, and it’s for everything to go to the World Cup. So you better be motivated. We’ll regroup. We have three days until the game to get everyone back to full fitness. We’ll approach the game like we would any game and get out there and work to get the win.”
On the team starting the tournament strong but, coming up short the last two matches:
“I thought the game against Honduras was a positive result. Playing Honduras in Honduras and you’re able to get a draw, that’s very positive, and I thought we played well. And I thought we played well in the first half today against Jamaica. It’s just, again, you need to take your chances. You have to take responsibility in the final third and score, and we didn’t do that. For the large majority of the tournament we’ve played well. And today, no excuse, we just didn’t get the job done.”
On failing to get the direct berth to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup and now needing to win Sunday’s play-in match:
“Of course we wanted the first spot. That was our plan all along. And that was our approach, to win the group. Unfortunately that was not the case. Like I said, we have the opportunity due to the format of the tournament to have one more game and we’ll approach it in a way to go out and win the game.”
U.S. U-17 MNT defender MATTHEW OLOSUNDE
On what the team can take away from the match:
"One thing for sure we can take away is that the chances we get in a game, we can’t take them for granted. We need to capitalize on our opportunities.”
On having another chance to qualify for the World Cup on Sunday:
“We’re going to try to take these three days that we have to get mentally prepared and physically as well, to try to recover as much as possible and, come out flying for our next game.”
On what the players said to each other after the loss:
“Just to keep our heads up, don’t look down, and look towards our next game. We have to leave this game behind us.”
U.S. U-17 MNT defender TYLER ADAMS
On the team’s mindset after a disappointing result:
“We tell each other to keep our heads up. We’ve gone through mental conditioning and, that taught us a lot. We’ll take the experience but, we have to forget about the game and move on so we can focus on our next game.”
On how the team will prepare for whomever the opponent is on Sunday:
“The next three days are all about recovery. We have great trainers that will get everyone ready. We have to stay positive. We came to this tournament for one reason and that’s to make it to the World Cup, and we still have a chance to do that on Sunday.”