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U-17 MNT Ready to Tackle Trinidad & Tobago

The U-17 MNT prepares for the second game in the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship against Trinidad & Tobago.

U-17 MNT Continues World Cup Qualifying against Trinidad & Tobago Tonight

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team resumes Group A play at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship when it faces Trinidad & Tobago at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, March 2, at Estadio Francisco Morazán in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The game is live on FOX Sports 2 and Univision Deportes, and fans can follow on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt and @ussoccer_esp.

The USA took hold of first place in the group with a resounding 5-0 victory against Cuba on Feb. 27. Joe Gallardo led the way with three goals, while Hugo Arellano and Alejandro Zendejas each contributed a goal. The U-17 MNT’s plus-5 goal differential puts the team ahead of Guatemala (1-0-0, plus-3 goal differential) and host Honduras (1-0-0, plus-2 goal differential).

Trinidad & Tobago dropped its group opener 4-1 go Guatemala on Feb. 27. Keston Julien’s 45th-minute goal cut Guatemala’s lead to 2-1, but Guatemala responded in first-half stoppage time and padded its lead early in the second half.

Here is breakdown of the USA’s history against Trinidad & Tobago in this tournament:

  • The USA has faced Trinidad & Tobago eight previous times in this tournament, which ties for the most games (along with Honduras) against the Group A opponents. The U.S. is 4-1-3 all-time.
  • The first two meetings came at the 1983 CONCACAF U-16 Championship. The USA and Trinidad drew 1-1 in the opening round on Aug. 30, and then played to a scoreless draw through regulation in the title match on Sept. 3. The U.S. won the tournament title 5-3 in penalties.
  • The U.S. earned a 4-0 win to open the preliminary round of the 1987 CONCACAF U-16 Championship on Feb. 15.
  • At the 1988 CONCACAF U-16 Championship, the USA lost 1-0 to Trinidad on Nov. 20 to cap off the group stage, but made up for that result with a 1-0 U.S. win on Nov. 27 in the tournament’s final round in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
  • At the 1991 CONCACAF U-16 Championship, the USA and Trinidad & Tobago drew 1-1 in the final round on March 31.
  • The USA’s top offensive performance against Trinidad was at the 1994 CONCACAF U-16 Championship with a 5-3 victory on Nov. 5 in the group stage.
  • The last time the U.S. and Trinidad & Tobago faced each other was at the 2007 CONCACAF U-17 Tournament, where the USA garnered a 3-0 victory on April 30. Alex Nimo scored twice, with Brek Shea assisting his second goal. Ellis McLoughlin contributed the other U.S. tally off of a Sheanon Williams assist.

Quote Sheet: U-17 MNT Excited by Big Win in Opening game of 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Quote Sheet
USA 5, CUBA 0
Feb. 27, 2015

U-17 MNT head coach RICHIE WILLIAMS
On the 5-0 victory to begin the Under-17 Championship:
"It was a good start for the team. Obviously it was important to come in and start off on the right foot, get three points and score some goals. So I thought it was a solid showing today against a Cuba team that is difficult and makes it hard on you, and I thought at times were physical and defended well. So it was difficult at times but I thought the guys did a great job.”

On being considered a favorite to win the Championship:
"You’re always happy with a win, no matter what. The objective is to go out and win. Again, we want to take one game at a time. Trinidad is next and we have to focus on Trinidad, who’s going to be a good opponent. Again we take one game at a time. We have to get the results, play well, and then hopefully we’ll continue that one game after another and into the final on the last day of the tournament.”

On how the team dealt with the climate:
“We were fine. We train full time in Florida so we also have a lot of heat in Florida - we trained the last year and half in Florida. We felt fine. The guys came through the game with no issues. We have a strong squad of 20 players that we trust that will be able to come in and play for us at certain times and do well for us if need be.”

On the play of Joe Gallardoin his first major competition after coming back from a broken leg in August 2014:
“It’s great to see Joe back from his injury. Joe’s a good goal scorer – he was proving it up until his injury. Now he’s back, and obviously got three goals tonight. He worked extremely hard, he played well and he was rewarded with his three goals. I believe that he’ll continue to do that throughout the tournament. Again it’s great for him to be able to recover from the injury and to be back with this team.”

On if he expects the coming games will be more difficult:
“Anybody in international soccer can beat anybody. So we’re not going to relax and take any team for granted. We respect all the teams; they’re all competitive and we don’t feel that there’s going to be any easy game. We have to show up and make sure that we play well offensively and defensively and have good team outings.”

U.S. U-17 MNT midfielder CHRISTIAN PULISIC
On starting the tournament with a 5-0 victory:
"It was great. We played really hard right from the start and got that early goal, which really helped us. After that we didn’t hold back. All the guys did their job and played really well. We kept a clean sheet and we’re all happy and looking forward to the next game.”

On turning corner kick drills into an early goal:
“It’s awesome. To practice that with Richie showing us the plays we’d like to do, and just being able to execute is really important. So it was really good to get that first goal like that.”

On having two goals called back early on:
“We weren’t worried. Things like that happen. We just had to keep pushing and we knew they’d (goals) come.”

U.S. U-17 MNT midfielder ALEJANDRO ZENDEJAS

On starting the tournament off with a convincing win:
"It’s definitely exciting. Of course we still want to look at the good things we did and the things we can do better. But I think we’re all very happy to start off with a win. And now we’re just ready for the next game.”

On getting an early goal and being able to add to the lead:
“It was great, but we knew we still had to keep our composure and keep playing, keep scoring. And obviously we were able to do that.”

On how his goal came about:
“Josh (Perez) sent a ball from the left side and Haji (Wright) tried to play it back. It was kind of bouncing around. Joe (Gallardo) laid it off and I just hit it first time. We’ve practiced finishing a lot, and it paid off, so I’m happy.”

U.S. U-17 MNT forward JOE GALLARDO
On scoring three goals in the win to start the tournament:
"I’m happy I got the hat trick, but more happy that we got the win as team. We played really well and I’m just happy for the victory today.”

On how he scored the first goal:
“As coach always tells me, run to the first post, and that’s what I did. I saw a clear path for Christian, he got it across and I was able to tap it in.”

On returning to the form he had prior to his injury:
“I’m just happy that I’m back to how I used to play. I’m thankful to God that he gave me the strength and perfect mindset to come back and play really well.”

Photo Gallery: U-17 MNT Off to Flying Start at 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

Photos from the U-17 MNT's 5-0 win against Cuba in its opening Group A game at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which is being held in Honduras. The U.S. next plays Trinidad & Tobago on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast on FOX Sports 2 and Univision Deportes. Fans will also be able to follow all the action on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt and @ussoccer_esp

U-17 MNT vs. Cuba: Highlights - Feb. 27, 2015

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team kicks off the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship with a 5-0 victory against Cuba.

U-17 MNT Posts 5-0 Victory against Cuba to Open 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (Feb. 27, 2015) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team got off to a strong start at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, earning a 5-0 victory against Cuba in the Group A opener at Estadio Francisco Morazán. 

Joe Gallardo scored three goals, Hugo Arellano and Alejandro Zendejas tallied in the first half, while Christian Pulisic and Luca de la Torre each provided two assists to lead the way for the USA. 

With the victory, the U-17 MNT has now won seven straight group openers at this qualifying event, starting with the 2001 edition of the tournament. 

It was a dominant performance by the USA, which had ample chances to pad the lead in both halves. Gallardo struck the right post in the 20th minute and Haji Wright had a wide-open scoring opportunity but hit the left of the frame in the 50th minute. 

In Friday’s earlier Group A match, Guatemala defeated Trinidad & Tobago 4-1. Jamaica and Honduras kicked off their group opener following USA-Cuba. 

The USA next faces Trinidad & Tobago at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, March 2, at Estadio Francisco Morazán (FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes). 

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Hugo Arellano (Christian Pulisic), 5th minute: Pulisic, who had threatened the net just one minute earlier to earn the corner kick, took the set piece opportunity from the left side, whipping the ball into the box to Arellano. The team captain rose over three Cuba defenders and headed it into the right side of the frame for the early lead. It was Arellano’s first goal of the year and second during his U-17 MNT tenure. USA 1, CUB 0 

USA – Joe Gallardo (Christian Pulisic), 40th minute: Pulisic and Alejandro Zendejas played a swift give-and-go down the right side and Pulisic crossed from the edge of the six-yard box. Gallardo tapped it home with ease for his second goal of the year and 11th of his U-17 MNT career. USA 2, CUB 0 

USA – Alejandro Zendejas, 43rd minute: Just before halftime, the USA worked the ball in from the left and Cuba’s Felipe Hurtado attempted a header clearance. Zendejas was there to settle the ball and ripped a long distance shot into the left of the frame to push the lead to three goals. Zendejas tallied his first international goal of 2015 and fourth during his U-17 career. USA 3, CUB 0 

USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre), 65th minute: Just seconds after entering the match, de la Torre took two quick touches in the box and set up Gallardo from 20 yards out. Gallardo fired toward the left of the frame, his shot bouncing once in the six-yard box, slightly deflected by Cuba goalkeeper Jesus Enrique Hernandez and finding its way into the back of the net. USA 4, CUB 0 

USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre), 88th minute: The USA wrapped up its scoring when de la Torre played a through ball to Gallardo at close range. Gallardo’s shot was stopped briefly by Jesus Enrique Hernandez, but bounced right back to Gallardo who capitalized on the second chance and found the left side of the frame for the hat trick. He now leads the U-17s this year with four goals this year and has 14 career goals. USA 5, CUB 0 (FINAL) 

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
CUB – Jesus Enrique Hernandez, 10th and 13th minutes: The Honduras goalkeeper was challenged early and often, required to limit the damage on a couple occasions. In the 10th minute, Hernandez lunched to his right for a diving save on Josh Perez’s strike. Hernandez allowed a rebound, but Christian Pulisic was offside. Then in the 13th minute, Hernandez again dove to his right to smother another Perez shot. 

USA – Will Pulisic, 23rd minute: Cuba’s Eduard Puga drove a free kick into the box that Alejandro Zendejas headed away. But Cuba continued to threaten in the area and had a chance to attack the net again from the left side of the box with much of the back line pushed up. Pulisic alertly darted off of his line and snared the ball at the edge of the box. 

CUB – Jesus Enrique Hernandez, 62nd minute: U.S. forward Joe Gallardo found a window to shoot from 21 yards out. Hernandez once again made a diving save to his right, making up for a Cuba back line that allowed plenty of space for the USA to work the ball in. 

Next on the Schedule:
The U-17 MNT resumes Group A play against Trinidad & Tobago at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, March 2, at Estadio Francisco Morazán in San Pedro Sula.
Broadcast information: FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_ynt; @ussoccer_esp

Additional Notes:

  • The U-17 MNT is now 4-1-0 in international play this year.
  • The USA moved to 6-0-2 all-time against Cuba in this tournament’s history.
  • Head coach Richie Williams’ starting lineup featured a 4-3-3 formation, with Will Pulisic in net and a defensive line that included John Nelson at left back, Matthew Olosunde at right back and a center back duo of team captain Hugo Arellano and Alexis Velela.
  • The midfield trio comprised of Alejandro Zendejas, Eric Calvillo and Christian Pulisic in an attacking role.
  • The front line featured Josh Perez on the left, Haji Wright on the right and Joe Gallardo in the middle.
  • Christian Pulisic and Wright earned their 30th international caps in this age group, tying for the most by any player in this cycle.
  • Every starter – other than Gallardo who was injured for much of 2014 with a leg injury – has earned 19 or more caps in this age group.
  • The USA was forced to burn an early substitution in the 28th minute when Tyler Adams entered for Calvillo, who suffered a lower leg injury.
  • Midfielder Luca de la Torre made his first appearance of the year when he entered for Zendejas in the 64th minute.
  • In the 84th minute, McKinze Gaines entered the game for Wright. Gaines is the only USA player to appear in all five international matches this year.

- U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team vs. Cuba U-17 Men’s National Team
Date: Feb. 27, 2015
Competition: 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship
Venue: Estadio Francisco Morazán; San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET (5 p.m. local)
Attendance: 720
Weather: 86 degrees; clear

Scoring Summary:    1 2 F

USA                            3 2 5 
CUB                            0 0 0

USA – Hugo Arellano (Christian Pulisic)                   5th minute
USA – Joe Gallardo (Christian Pulisic)                      40
USA – Alejandro Zendejas                                         43
USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de le Torre)                      65
USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre)                      88

Lineups: 
USA: 1-Will Pulisic; 2-Matthew Olosunde, 4-Alexis Velela, 5-Hugo Arellano (capt.), 3-John Nelson; 6-Eric Calvillo (18-Tyler Adams, 28), 20-Alejandro Zendejas (8-Luca de la Torre, 64), 10-Christian Pulisic; 7-Haji Wright (13-McKinze Gaines, 86), 9-Joe Gallardo, 11-Josh Perez
Subs Not Used: 12-Kevin Silva, 14-Tanner Dieterich, 16-Thomas McCabe, 17-Pierre da Silva, 19-Brandon Vazquez
Head coach: Richie Williams

CUB: 12-Enrique Hernandez; 2-Felipe Hurtado (18-Neisser Sando, 54), 3-Dariel Morejon, 4-Carlos Borromeo (capt.), 15-Jeffrey Delgado; 5-Jansiel Blanco, 6-Jonathan Ramirez (17-Yordan Alonso, 66), 7-Raycharles Herrera (16-Brian Savigne, 87), 10-Eduard Puga, 13-Serguey Campillo; 8-Yosniel Gonzalez 
Subs Not Used: 1-Lazaro Garcia; 9-Carlos Sebrango, 11-Nelson Betancourt, 14-Yon Hernandez, 19-Omar Romero, 20-Yordanis Barreto  
Head coach: Fidel Salazar

Stats Summary: USA / CUB
Shots: 21 / 6
Shots on Goal: 13 / 0
Saves: 0 / 8
Corner Kicks: 4 / 2
Fouls: 11 / 14
Offside: 4 / 1

Misconduct Summary: 
CUB – Felipe Hurtado (caution)                                39th minute
USA – Alejandro Zendejas (caution)                        51
USA – Haji Wright (caution)                                     69

Officials: 
Referee: Mathieu Boudeau (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Kenroy Willis (CAY)
Assistant Referee 2: Zachari Zeegelar
Fourth Official: Drew Fisher (CAN)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Joe Gallardo

U-17 MNT Ready to Open World Cup Qualifying

U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team head coach Richie Williams and captain Hugo Arellano talk about prepping for the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship ahead of the opening match against Cuba on Friday in Honduras.

U-17 MNT Kicks Off 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Today

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team kicks off the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship  (Feb. 27 to March 12) today at 5 p.m. ET. The USA has been drawn with host Honduras, Cuba, Guatemala, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in Group A. 

The U.S. opens against Cuba today at 5 p.m. ET, followed by Trinidad & Tobago (March 2), Guatemala (March 5), Honduras (March 8) and Jamaica (March 11). All of the USA’s group matches will be broadcast on FOX Sports 2, with the exception of its March 8 game against Honduras, which will be on FOX Soccer Plus. Fans can also follow on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt

The tournament, which takes place at two venues: Estadio Francisco Morazán for all Group A matches, and Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano for all Group B matches, the two Playoff games and the title match, will qualify four teams to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile this October. 

On Feb. 24, U-17 MNT head coach Richie Williams named a 20-player roster for the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship.

 u17mnt

U.S. U-17 MNT Roster by Position: Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond United), Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy)
DEFENDERS (7): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy), Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy Academy), Daniel Barbir (West Bromwich Albion), Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake AZ), John Nelson (Internationals), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal), Luca de la Torre (Fulham), Thomas McCabe (Players Development Academy), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS (6): Pierre da Silva (Orlando City Academy), McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey), Josh Perez (Unattached), Brandon Vazquez (Club Tijuana), Haji Wright (Unattached)

Qualifying Format Change: The CONCACAF U-17 Championship format has changed for 2015 with two groups of six teams. Previous tournaments had featured four groups of three teams. Under the new setup (which was also implemented earlier this year in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship), the first-place teams in Group A and Group B will automatically qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup and advance to face each other in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship Final. The second- and third-place teams in each group (four teams) will be reseeded based on group-stage results. In this playoff stage, the top seed will play the No. 4 seed and the second seed will face the No. 3 seed. The two winners from these respective games will also qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Eyes on Chile 2015: The U.S. has qualified in 14 FIFA U-16 or U-17 World Championships, which ties for the most appearances with Brazil. The 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup was the only occurrence in which the USA did not qualify for this tournament. The USA’s best performance was a fourth-place finish at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. Landon Donovan earned the Golden Ball, which honors the tournament’s MVP.

2015 U.S. U-17 MNT RESULTS 

International record: 3-1-0; overall: 3-1-0

Date

Opponent

Result

U.S. Goal Scorers

Venue

Feb. 2

Panama

2-0 W

C. Pulisic, Perez

IMG Academy; Bradenton, Fla.

Feb. 4

Panama

0-2 L

--

IMG Academy; Bradenton, Fla.

Feb. 20

Bermuda

5-2 W

C. Pulisic, Gallardo, Perez, Wright (2)

IMG Academy; Bradenton, Fla.

Feb. 22

Bermuda

4-0 W

Vazquez (2), del Rosario

IMG Academy; Bradenton, Fla.


USA Opens CONCACAF U-17 Championship against Cuba

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team faces Cuba in Group A play to open the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship on Friday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. ET. The match, which takes place at Estadio Francisco Morazan in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, will be shown live on FOX Sports 2. Four teams from the tournament will qualify directly to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.

Here is a breakdown of the USA’s previous encounters with Cuba in this event:

  • The USA is 5-0-2 in the all-time series against Cuba in this tournament.
  • The series started with the USA defeating Cuba 1-0 on Nov. 25, 1988, in the final round of the 1988 CONCACAF U-16 Championship. The USA and Cuba, as well as Canada, advanced out of the group to qualify for the 1989 FIFA U-16 World Championship.
  • The U.S. and Cuba met twice in the 1991 CONCACAF U-16 Championship, drawing 1-1 in Group 2 on March 28, followed by the USA’s 1-0 victory in the final round on April 2 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. It was the USA’s only win in the final round, but it was enough as the U.S., Cuba and Mexico advanced to the 1991 FIFA U-17 World Championship.
  • On Aug. 23, 1992, the USA defeated Cuba 2-0 in the final round of the 1992 CONCACAF U-16 Championship. With its second consecutive win, combined with a draw between Mexico and Canada, the U.S. leapfrogged Mexico to win the tournament.
  • The USA and Cuba tied 1-1 in Group A of the 2005 CONCACAF U-17 Tournament, which proved to be the only small setback for the U.S., which won its group with a 2-0-1 record.
  • The USA’s most lopsided win against Cuba was on the shortened 2009 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, opening the tournament with a 5-0 win on April 21. Jack McInerney scored two goals and assisted two others. Luis Gil added a goal and set up both McInerney goals, and Stefan Jerome’s opening goal proved to be the game-winner. The U.S. won Group A with a 3-0-0 record. The event in Tijuana was then canceled because of a swine flu outbreak. The four semifinalists advanced to the FIFA U-17 World Cup: Group A winner USA, Group A runner-up Honduras, Group B winner Mexico and Group B runner-up Costa Rica.

Richie Williams Names 20-Player Roster for 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

CHICAGO (Feb. 24, 2015) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams has named the 20-player roster that will represent the USA at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. The U.S. opens Group A play against Cuba on Friday, Feb. 27, at Estadio Francisco Morazan in San Pedro Sula, Honduras (FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes).

“We’re very happy with the 20-man roster that we named, and we think it’s a strong and deep roster,” Williams said. “Obviously there were difficult decisions that needed to be made because we have a very good group, and we have a lot of players that have been here for a year and a half to two years that have really worked hard and developed. That made it difficult in terms of choosing that 20-man roster. It’s not easy when you have to tell players that they haven’t made it. But again, we feel this is a strong roster and it’s a group that’s ready to go and compete and win a championship.”

The USA is paired with Cuba, Guatemala, host side Honduras, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in Group A at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. After the USA’s game against Cuba on Feb. 27, the U-17 MNT faces Trinidad & Tobago on March 2, followed by Guatemala (March 5), Honduras (March 8) and Jamaica (March 11).

U.S. U-17 MNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond United), Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy)
DEFENDERS (7): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy), Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy Academy), Daniel Barbir (West Bromwich Albion), Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake AZ), John Nelson (Internationals), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal), Luca de la Torre (Fulham), Thomas McCabe (Players Development Academy), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS (6): Pierre da Silva (Orlando City Academy), McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey), Josh Perez (Unattached), Brandon Vazquez (Club Tijuana), Haji Wright (Unattached)

Four countries from the CONCACAF region will directly qualify from this tournament for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. The Group A and B winners will clinch a berth for the World Cup and earn a spot in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship title match on March 15. The group’s second- and third-place teams will advance to a playoff stage. Those four teams will be seeded, with the No. 2 and 3 seeds playing in one playoff and the No. 1 and 4 seeds in the other playoff game, both taking place on March 15. The two playoff victors will earn the other two berths for the U-17 World Cup.

Additional Roster Notes:

  • Nineteen of the 20 players also have ties to the Development Academy.
  • Much of this U-17 MNT roster played a big role in the USA’s 17-7-3 international campaign in 2014.
  • The roster includes forward Haji Wright, the leading goal scorer last year with 18 goals in 22 matches. Midfielder Christian Pulisic, who officially joined German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund earlier this month, is coming off a strong 2014 with the U-17s that included 17 goals and seven assists in international play. Both Wright and Pulisic were nominees for 2014 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year.
  • The U-17s have had a successful cycle in international competition, including four tournament titles.
  • Most of this group was part of the 2013 Nike International Friendlies championship side and earned a runner-up finish in the 2014 Nike Friendlies.
  • Also in 2014, the USA defeated host Turkey to win the Aegean Cup title, followed by a championship crown at the Josip Katalinski International Tournament in Bosnia-Herzegovina and a title run at the Panama U-17 International Tournament in early October.
  • In preparation for qualifying, the U-17s have had four international matches this month. The U.S. split a two-game set against Panama on Feb. 2 and 4, then showcased a strong offensive display this past weekend with a 5-2 victory against Bermuda on Friday, Feb. 20, followed by a 4-0 win in the rematch two days later.
  • The USA has qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup on 14 occasions, more than any other CONCACAF team. The U-17 MNT’s absence from the 2013 World Cup was the only occurrence that the USA did not qualify for that stage.

Photo Gallery: U-17 MNT Off to Flying Start at 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

Photos from the U-17 MNT's 5-0 win against Cuba in its opening Group A game at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which is being held in Honduras. The U.S. next plays Trinidad & Tobago on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast on FOX Sports 2 and Univision Deportes. Fans will also be able to follow all the action on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt and @ussoccer_esp

Quote Sheet: Richie Williams Discusses Roster for U-17 Qualifying

2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship
Roster Quote Sheet
Feb. 24, 2015

U-17 MNT head coach RICHIE WILLIAMS
On the 20-man roster that was chosen for the CONCACAF U-17 Championship:
“We’re very happy with the 20-man roster that we named, and we think it’s a strong and deep roster. Obviously there were difficult decisions that needed to be made because we have a very good group, and we have a lot of players that have been here for a year and a half to two years that have really worked hard and developed. That made it difficult in terms of choosing that 20-man roster. It’s not easy when you have to tell players that they haven’t made it. But again, we feel this is a strong roster and it’s a group that’s ready to go and compete and win a championship.”

On the strengths of the team:
“We think we’re a solid team from the defense to the midfield to the attack. I think a lot of the headlines that we’ve gotten is for our ability to score goals and get forward. We have some talented players in the attack. But you’re not able to be successful and win and compete if you don’t have a good defense also. We have guys that have the ability to create opportunities and to score goals, but we also have a very good midfield that we feel is a good passing midfield and is active, aggressive. We feel we have a good defense and goalkeepers. Overall, I think it’s a well-rounded squad, and a squad that’s ready to go.”

On the current cycle in the lead-up to this tournament:
“The great thing that we have here with our cycle is that we have a Residency Program, so we’re able to bring in players on a full-time basis where we can train them every day, with matches on the weekend. And on top of that, we still have our trips that we go to domestically and internationally. Most of the players that are on this 20-man roster – other than two or three – have been here at Residency full-time. We feel that we’ve been able to develop them and train them at a high level.”

On how the team prepared for such a big tournament:
“Throughout the year and a half, two years, we were able to travel around the world to go to different competitions and play in different tournaments, even our own tournament here with the Nike Friendlies over the last couple years. So we feel that they’re prepared. They’ve had opportunities to play teams from all over the world in some very good international games. They’ve gained valuable experience. We’ve been in games where we’ve been up, winning games, where we’ve been losing, where it’s been a draw and they’ve had to find a way to get results. The part that I like about this team is that we’re able to play a good brand of soccer, be proactive, attack, defense also, and get results playing soccer the right way. It’s a competitive group, and again, they care about playing well but also winning.”

On the format of this year’s tournament compared to the previous one:
“I think it’s a better format. The last format was basically playing two games and having a third game that you just had a one-off game – and whoever won that, went. We obviously weren’t successful against Honduras (in 2013). Our goal is to take a one-game-at-a-time approach and play every game like it’s our last game and hopefully get positive results in group play. Our goal is to win the group and then compete in the final game to play for the CONCACAF Championship.”

On if the U-17s can take anything from the U-20 team’s experience in qualifying:
“I think so, yes. You look at the U-20s, the first game they played against Guatemala and it was a game where they pretty much dominated, had the opportunities, [but] were only able to get one goal. And then Guatemala scores that amazing goal in the 90th-plus minute. So it’s a good learning experience that if you have the opportunity to score a couple more goals, even if the other team does get a goal like that, you still can come away with the three points. And the game against Panama, a very good opponent, I thought the U.S. also played well in that game. It kind of went either way, and it was a one-goal difference, and that makes all the difference in the world in terms of winning the group then having to play in the one-off game in the sixth game. Our guys watched the games and they saw that, again, with qualifying it’s very competitive. And when you have opportunities, you have to take your opportunities; you have to be solid defensively; and you can’t take any team for granted. Again, you approach it one game at a time. I think it was a great experience for them to be able to watch the U-20s.”

On the team’s expectations and goals:
“It’s always for us to go out, play well. When you’re with a young age group like this throughout this two-year cycle, it’s not always just about winning – it’s about development also. But as they get toward the end of the cycle, competition is part of development. And now the results matter, where you have to get good results in order to qualify for the World Cup. Our goal is to go out and play well, compete and get good results, win our group and play for the championship of CONCACAF and then move on to the World Cup.”

U-17s Hope Depth, International Success Translate in Qualifying

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team is coming off a 2014 campaign that had many highs and also a couple key learning moments as the group forges ahead for 2015.

The U-17s enter an important stretch that starts with the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in late February and early March, opening Group A play against Cuba on Feb. 27. Head coach Richie Williams feels there is a solid base heading into the qualifying stage, with the hopes of advancing to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.

“Over the past year and a half to two years, we’ve definitely been making sure we have a team that has some depth,” Williams said from the team’s January camp in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. “We feel confident in our pool, and we approach tournaments by giving them the opportunities, start in games and gain international experience. When we form our 20-player roster, we know we can rely on having a confident group of players, with anybody we put on the field.”

The U-17s recently named their Residency Program roster for the spring semester. A large contingent is returning to Bradenton, Florida, with 24 of the 28 players being a part of this group this past fall.

“This is an important semester for us and an important year for this cycle,” Williams said. “With World Cup qualifying at the beginning of March, it will be important for us to continue training well and performing well. We also need to find a balance with this group and some of the players who are not with us on a regular basis to form a 20-man roster that will head to qualifying to compete and get results.”

The U-17s had a 17-7-3 international performance in 2014, including a 13-game unbeaten streak to open the year. Williams’ group wrapped up its international schedule with the Nike International Friendlies in late November and early December. The USA opened with victories against England and Australia, but the defending champion fell short of retaining its crown with a loss to Brazil in the finale on Dec. 2.

“The first two games went very well against England and Australia, and the Brazil game just didn’t go the way that we wanted it to,” Williams said. “Certain parts of the game we played well and other parts we made mistakes. We didn’t have a consistent enough performance to compete with Brazil that day. In the past, we have had games against them where we’ve competed well, winning the previous Nike Friendlies against them. But it was a good learning experience. When you compete in an international game, you have to show up for 90 minutes, and it is a constant reminder when we go into qualifying.”

The U-20 MNT is coming off a third-place performance at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, and for some players who were part of the U-17 group that fell short in 2013 qualifying, it served as a good stepping stone to accomplish this task at the older age group two years later. Among this group, former U-17 captain Shaquell Moore was named to the all-tournament team.

“That is the goal of our youth national teams, to see the U-17s advance to the U-18s, U-20s and senior team,” Williams said. “It was great to see Shaq Moore, John Requejo, Conor Donovan, Tyler Turner, Junior Flores, Bradford Jamieson who wasn’t at U-17 qualifying but was a part of Residency, to be a part of this U-20 qualifying group. I’m happy for them. They worked extremely hard and they deserved it.”

Academy Select Game Catapulted Gaines’ Rise to U-17 MNT

The goal of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy to provide the education and support in an everyday environment to develop world-class players. From an international standpoint, one player who has made some significant strides over the past year is forward McKinze Gaines.

Gaines performed admirably at the 2013 Academy Select Game, and the 2014 version kicks off Monday, Dec. 1, at 5 p.m. ET. It is a primetime event on the third day of the Development Academy Winter Showcase at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.

The game serves as a platform for Academy players who have been hand-picked by U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors and Youth National Team staff to show their skills and get the opportunity to get noticed by a scouting network in a competitive environment with the chance to perhaps be called into the Youth National Team system.

U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team member Gaines understands the magnitude and the huge opportunity that this game represents.

One year ago, Gaines was playing in the Academy Select Game himself. Barely a few months after, he was called into the U-17 National Team and is now tied with teammate Haji Wright for the most appearances for the team in 2014.

“It was amazing,” Gaines said of being back in Florida with the U-17 MNT. “It just can show how much things can change in one year. Last year I had a really good game, and to be here was amazing; it was a great feeling.”

Gaines’ transition to being a vital participant of the U-17 MNT has showed the value of belonging and going through the Academy system, and the huge impact it can make toward sporting the Red, White and Blue.

In addition to his team-leading 21 caps this year, Gaines has also scored five goals, the latest coming during a 2-1 win against Australia on Nov. 30 at the 2014 Nike International Friendlies on the same field where merely one year ago Gaines was gaining the attention of Youth National Team coaches and Technical Advisors.

Gaines’ performance has been a terrific addition to an already successful offensive attack by the U.S. U-17s that includes 60 goals in 31 matches. Also, the forward has earned several minutes of play up front alongside team-leading scorer Haji Wright, a fact that does not go unnoticed by him.

“There is a lot of competition for spots and it makes you be at your best at all times,” Gaines said of earning playing time. “It’s awesome to score goals be able to see results like that. Anytime you can come in and play a good role in a team victory, it’s really rewarding and nice.”

Gaines and the U.S. U-17 MNT will close out the 2014 Nike Friendlies on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 6 p.m. against Brazil for the tournament title. The game will be a rematch of last year’s thrilling finale, which the USA claimed with a 4-1 victory.  

“Last year we beat them, but they’ve got the upper hand in the past two results,” Gaines said. “We just need to come out here in our house, beat them and win the tournament.”

McKinze Gaines and Matthew Real

U-17 MNT’s Freedom up Front Poses Versatile Threat

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team has experienced a successful 2014, compiling a 17-6-7 overall record and establishing itself as a strong force heading into the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in February that would qualify the team for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile in September.

A large factor in the strength of the team lies in its offense. In a span of 30 games this year, the U-17s have racked up 58 goals, with 15 different players scoring at least once. Forward Haji Wright leads the team with 18 goals in 20 matches played, while midfielder Christian Pulisic sits closely behind with 16 goals in 19 appearances.

Wright and Pulisic get much of the spotlight; however the USA offensive attack is successful because of the diversity it plays around with when it comes to lineups and positioning, as well as the liberty that U.S. U17 MNT head coach Richie Williams allows his players to have when they step on the field.

“We let them have a little bit of freedom,” commented Williams on the players moving from one spot to another up front. “We just want to make sure that they all earn a certain position but they can interchange positions at any time.

“Sometimes you see Haji wide or up front as a nine, and sometimes Christian will come a little bit deep, or also sometimes running behind the back four. As long as there is a balance with the top four positions, that they are not all on the same side of the field or all in the middle of the field, that we have some width, we encourage them to interchange positions and to look where the open areas are and the open spaces and I think it adds to our attack.”

For Pulisic and his teammates, having the green light to go ahead and create their own offensive attacks has proved to be a positive move that has in turn helped them find the back of the net much more often.

Wright has recorded four hat tricks this year and more recently, Pulisic scored a brace against England on Nov.28 to lead the USA to a 3-1 victory during the opening game of the 2014 Nike International Friendlies.

“We definitely have our freedom more up in the front four,” said Pulisic. “We have freedom up there. Richie likes to tell us that we can switch around, switch positions, and we’re all good at all positions up front.”


Wright Stuff: U-17 Forward and Young AOTY Nominee Enjoying Strong Year

U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team member Haji Wright has had what can only be described as a dominant year.

The U.S. forward is the leading scorer for the team in 2014, tallying 18 goals in 20 international matches and adding five assists. He has become a disruptive force for the USA up front, creating constant opportunities and attacking the net. For his entire U-17 MNT tenure, the former LA Galaxy Academy striker has accumulated a robust 24 goals in 24 matches, racking up 20 of his 24 caps this year alone.

Wright has had three hat tricks this year, including a four-goal game against Montenegro. He has also featured for the U.S. U-18 MNT in 2014, winning a championship title at the 21st International Tournament of Vaclav Jezek in the Czech Republic in mid-August.

With all of his accomplishments this year, the former member of the U-17 Residency Program is one of five nominees for this year’s prestigious U.S. Soccer Male Young Athlete of the Year award.

“This whole year has been kind of like a dream for me,” said Wright. “I feel like I’ve accomplished many of the things I wanted to accomplish, but of course there’s always room for getting better. I think I now can continue to help this team by not only scoring goals but creating danger for the opposition.”

Opposing defenses have dialed in on Wright as they try to shut the forward down, and this in part has opened chances for other U.S. teammates to find spaces and creating scoring chances.

“It’s become a definite for me,” Wright said of being aware that defensive game plans are singling him out. “I think when the opposition focuses on me, then it creates opportunities for my teammates, and that’s a good thing for us. It helps the team and every player on the field.”

Wright is back in action this weekend as the U.S. U-17 MNT is currently participating in the 2014 Nike International Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.

The USA opened up the tournament on Friday, Nov. 28, with a 3-1 victory over England. A powerful American defense, guided by a strong outing from goalkeeper Kevin Silva provided a strong backbone for the win. However, Wright’s presence also demonstrated to be a factor as it allowed players such as Josh Perez, Alejandro Zendejas and Christian Pulisic to come up with crafty plays and find the back of the net for the offensive spell.

“It’s really important for us to win the first game of this tournament,” Wright said. “We want to win the whole thing again and I think we came out and just wanted this more than England did, so we went out and got it.”

The Nike International Friendlies is the last tournament the U.S. U-17 MNT will be participating in before the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship kicks off in February. That tournament will qualify the top four teams to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.

“It’s really important that we do well in this tournament so we can get some results,” Wright said. “This will prepare us for qualifiers, and then hopefully for the World Cup.”

Academy Coaches Soak in U-17 MNT Program’s Methodology

The Southeast region of the Development Academy has the advantage of being located close to the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team’s Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida.

The connection from the Academy to the Youth National Team system and senior National Team is a continual point of emphasis, so for Academy coaches and scouts, it was an invaluable opportunity to spend a full day recently with the U-17 MNT and head coach Richie Williams. They had the chance to see firsthand how their program works.

U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor Juan Carlos Michia, who regularly scouts players and teams in the Academy’s Southeast Division, invited a group of coaches and scouts to take part in the event, and the response was strong. There were 42 coaches on hand from the Southeast, with nearly every Academy club represented.

The morning included a meeting with Michia, an introduction by Williams, and then the opportunity to watch a full training session, from the warm-up process to specific goalkeeping session work led by U-17 assistant coach Anthony Latronica.

The coaches had multiple meetings, including an afternoon presentation by Williams focusing on style of play, training sessions and scheduling.

Academy coaches and scouts also had an open conversation about systems and high-level training environments, as well as video analysis from previous U-17 MNT games.

“It was a very good experience, and I received some great response from many of the coaches who spent the day with the U-17 National Team,” Michia said. “Richie Williams and his staff did a tremendous job and were open with sharing the U-17 program’s system and methodology. It’s something that many of the coaches want to be a part of again in the future.”

Juan Carlos Michia

Current U-17 MNT Crop Reflects on Donovan’s Impact

While most people tend to focus on U.S. Men’s National Team forward Landon Donovan’s accolades on the senior team, it was his U-17 Men’s National Team impact that immediately put him on the map.

As Donovan prepares for his MNT swan song on Friday against Ecuador to cap off his illustrious 15-year career, ussoccer.com caught up with three players on the current U-17 MNT to get their perspective on Donovan: midfielder Christian Pulisic, forwards Haji Wright and defender Hugo Arellano.

The trio sat down with U.S. Soccer during its impressive three-game sweep to win the Panama U-17 International Tournament. Wright and Arellano both have ties to the Development Academy’s LA Galaxy, and Pulisic is a PA Classics product:

The Younger Yanks Are Coming

ussoccer.com: Having reviewed the win against the Czech Republic, what are your lasting impressions of the performance?
Jurgen Klinsmann: “There are a lot of positives we can take out of this game. We asked this younger generation - the group that here and there was not a big part of the World Cup in Brazil - to step it up and make statements. I think that young group made a very, very strong statement. We asked players such as Mix Diskerud, Joe Corona, Jozy Altidore and others to take the responsibilities into their hands and guide that young team in Prague, and that’s what they did. Winning in Prague against a Czech team that barely missed out on qualifying for the World Cup is a strong statement. So overall, it was a very positive trip. We learned a lot, and this group deserves to come along.”

ussoccer.com: There seemed to be an increased aggressiveness in the midfield. What were your instructions to those guys?
JK: “With every young group that comes through the system, you want them to step it up physically year by year. You want them to take over responsibilities, you want them to grow, to be louder on the field, but also to send out signals physically. It’s a physical sport, and in many cases it’s about one-on-one battles on the field and winning those battles. That’s what Mix, Michael Orozco, Joe Corona, John Brooks, Jozy Altidore, Ale Bedoya did. They stepped up and showed they can compete physically. That’s what we wanted to see, so for that reason they deserve a compliment.”

ussoccer.com: The team also seemed to show a commitment to playing out of the bac, particularly with the distribution by Brad Guzan. Did you ask them to stick with that plan and not be afraid to take risks? Is that something you plan to preach moving forward?
JK: “It’s definitely a huge step for us to play out of the back, to find defenders and open up the game right away and not to play long balls all the time. Pretty much every long ball is a turn over. In the first half with Brad Guzan delivering those balls into Diskerud, into the fullbacks, into the centerbacks, that looked really nice. Obviously for Nick Rimando, he’s used to doing that. He’s almost like a field player and he’s very comfortable playing out of the back. We told them not to worry about making mistakes. Here and there it might happen, but we want this game to be developed from the back into the midfield and then into the forwards and not to be forced always to play long balls. This is something we are going to encourage more and more going forward. We want to keep the ball. We want to build out of the back. We want them to have the confidence to do that and not worry about mistakes. I think it was a big step forward, and we will emphasize that going into the October games as well.”

ussoccer.com: While Jozy didn’t have many scoring chances, he seemed to show improved hold up play. What were your impressions?
JK: “It was huge for us to have Jozy Altidore back in our lineup. This was the biggest bummer for us in the World Cup, to lose Jozy in the first game. I think we could have made a huge step in the World Cup, especially facing a team like Belgium in the Round of 16, if Jozy had been on the field.  I asked him to guide this young group. He’s still a young guy himself - he’s 24 years old but he already has 70 caps. We made him the captain and told him to guide these guys and he enjoyed that. He battled the whole game. He won most of his one-on-one battles, he provided great assists. He connected with Joe Gyau to the right and Julian green to the left, and connected to the midfield. It was a very strong performance by Jozy, even if he didn’t score. This is what we want to see from him. Sooner or later, I told him you are going to score your goals in the Premier League and continue to score goals for the National Team.”

Photo Gallery: Nike International Friendlies Over the Years

The Nike International Friendlies event has been a stomping ground for players who have featured for the U.S. Men’s National Team. From Jozy Altidore in 2004 to Rubio Rubin in multiple Nike Friendlies, here is a sampling of the players who have progressed to the senior team after playing for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team at this prestigious tournament. The 2014 Nike International Friendlies will be held Nov. 28-Dec. 2 at Lakewood Ranch, Florida.

U-17 MNT Continues World Cup Qualifying against Trinidad & Tobago Tonight

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team resumes Group A play at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship when it faces Trinidad & Tobago at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, March 2, at Estadio Francisco Morazán in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The game is live on FOX Sports 2 and Univision Deportes, and fans can follow on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt and @ussoccer_esp.

The USA took hold of first place in the group with a resounding 5-0 victory against Cuba on Feb. 27. Joe Gallardo led the way with three goals, while Hugo Arellano and Alejandro Zendejas each contributed a goal. The U-17 MNT’s plus-5 goal differential puts the team ahead of Guatemala (1-0-0, plus-3 goal differential) and host Honduras (1-0-0, plus-2 goal differential).

Trinidad & Tobago dropped its group opener 4-1 go Guatemala on Feb. 27. Keston Julien’s 45th-minute goal cut Guatemala’s lead to 2-1, but Guatemala responded in first-half stoppage time and padded its lead early in the second half.

Here is breakdown of the USA’s history against Trinidad & Tobago in this tournament:

  • The USA has faced Trinidad & Tobago eight previous times in this tournament, which ties for the most games (along with Honduras) against the Group A opponents. The U.S. is 4-1-3 all-time.
  • The first two meetings came at the 1983 CONCACAF U-16 Championship. The USA and Trinidad drew 1-1 in the opening round on Aug. 30, and then played to a scoreless draw through regulation in the title match on Sept. 3. The U.S. won the tournament title 5-3 in penalties.
  • The U.S. earned a 4-0 win to open the preliminary round of the 1987 CONCACAF U-16 Championship on Feb. 15.
  • At the 1988 CONCACAF U-16 Championship, the USA lost 1-0 to Trinidad on Nov. 20 to cap off the group stage, but made up for that result with a 1-0 U.S. win on Nov. 27 in the tournament’s final round in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
  • At the 1991 CONCACAF U-16 Championship, the USA and Trinidad & Tobago drew 1-1 in the final round on March 31.
  • The USA’s top offensive performance against Trinidad was at the 1994 CONCACAF U-16 Championship with a 5-3 victory on Nov. 5 in the group stage.
  • The last time the U.S. and Trinidad & Tobago faced each other was at the 2007 CONCACAF U-17 Tournament, where the USA garnered a 3-0 victory on April 30. Alex Nimo scored twice, with Brek Shea assisting his second goal. Ellis McLoughlin contributed the other U.S. tally off of a Sheanon Williams assist.

Quote Sheet: U-17 MNT Excited by Big Win in Opening game of 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Quote Sheet
USA 5, CUBA 0
Feb. 27, 2015

U-17 MNT head coach RICHIE WILLIAMS
On the 5-0 victory to begin the Under-17 Championship:
"It was a good start for the team. Obviously it was important to come in and start off on the right foot, get three points and score some goals. So I thought it was a solid showing today against a Cuba team that is difficult and makes it hard on you, and I thought at times were physical and defended well. So it was difficult at times but I thought the guys did a great job.”

On being considered a favorite to win the Championship:
"You’re always happy with a win, no matter what. The objective is to go out and win. Again, we want to take one game at a time. Trinidad is next and we have to focus on Trinidad, who’s going to be a good opponent. Again we take one game at a time. We have to get the results, play well, and then hopefully we’ll continue that one game after another and into the final on the last day of the tournament.”

On how the team dealt with the climate:
“We were fine. We train full time in Florida so we also have a lot of heat in Florida - we trained the last year and half in Florida. We felt fine. The guys came through the game with no issues. We have a strong squad of 20 players that we trust that will be able to come in and play for us at certain times and do well for us if need be.”

On the play of Joe Gallardoin his first major competition after coming back from a broken leg in August 2014:
“It’s great to see Joe back from his injury. Joe’s a good goal scorer – he was proving it up until his injury. Now he’s back, and obviously got three goals tonight. He worked extremely hard, he played well and he was rewarded with his three goals. I believe that he’ll continue to do that throughout the tournament. Again it’s great for him to be able to recover from the injury and to be back with this team.”

On if he expects the coming games will be more difficult:
“Anybody in international soccer can beat anybody. So we’re not going to relax and take any team for granted. We respect all the teams; they’re all competitive and we don’t feel that there’s going to be any easy game. We have to show up and make sure that we play well offensively and defensively and have good team outings.”

U.S. U-17 MNT midfielder CHRISTIAN PULISIC
On starting the tournament with a 5-0 victory:
"It was great. We played really hard right from the start and got that early goal, which really helped us. After that we didn’t hold back. All the guys did their job and played really well. We kept a clean sheet and we’re all happy and looking forward to the next game.”

On turning corner kick drills into an early goal:
“It’s awesome. To practice that with Richie showing us the plays we’d like to do, and just being able to execute is really important. So it was really good to get that first goal like that.”

On having two goals called back early on:
“We weren’t worried. Things like that happen. We just had to keep pushing and we knew they’d (goals) come.”

U.S. U-17 MNT midfielder ALEJANDRO ZENDEJAS

On starting the tournament off with a convincing win:
"It’s definitely exciting. Of course we still want to look at the good things we did and the things we can do better. But I think we’re all very happy to start off with a win. And now we’re just ready for the next game.”

On getting an early goal and being able to add to the lead:
“It was great, but we knew we still had to keep our composure and keep playing, keep scoring. And obviously we were able to do that.”

On how his goal came about:
“Josh (Perez) sent a ball from the left side and Haji (Wright) tried to play it back. It was kind of bouncing around. Joe (Gallardo) laid it off and I just hit it first time. We’ve practiced finishing a lot, and it paid off, so I’m happy.”

U.S. U-17 MNT forward JOE GALLARDO
On scoring three goals in the win to start the tournament:
"I’m happy I got the hat trick, but more happy that we got the win as team. We played really well and I’m just happy for the victory today.”

On how he scored the first goal:
“As coach always tells me, run to the first post, and that’s what I did. I saw a clear path for Christian, he got it across and I was able to tap it in.”

On returning to the form he had prior to his injury:
“I’m just happy that I’m back to how I used to play. I’m thankful to God that he gave me the strength and perfect mindset to come back and play really well.”

U-17 MNT Posts 5-0 Victory against Cuba to Open 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (Feb. 27, 2015) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team got off to a strong start at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, earning a 5-0 victory against Cuba in the Group A opener at Estadio Francisco Morazán. 

Joe Gallardo scored three goals, Hugo Arellano and Alejandro Zendejas tallied in the first half, while Christian Pulisic and Luca de la Torre each provided two assists to lead the way for the USA. 

With the victory, the U-17 MNT has now won seven straight group openers at this qualifying event, starting with the 2001 edition of the tournament. 

It was a dominant performance by the USA, which had ample chances to pad the lead in both halves. Gallardo struck the right post in the 20th minute and Haji Wright had a wide-open scoring opportunity but hit the left of the frame in the 50th minute. 

In Friday’s earlier Group A match, Guatemala defeated Trinidad & Tobago 4-1. Jamaica and Honduras kicked off their group opener following USA-Cuba. 

The USA next faces Trinidad & Tobago at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, March 2, at Estadio Francisco Morazán (FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes). 

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Hugo Arellano (Christian Pulisic), 5th minute: Pulisic, who had threatened the net just one minute earlier to earn the corner kick, took the set piece opportunity from the left side, whipping the ball into the box to Arellano. The team captain rose over three Cuba defenders and headed it into the right side of the frame for the early lead. It was Arellano’s first goal of the year and second during his U-17 MNT tenure. USA 1, CUB 0 

USA – Joe Gallardo (Christian Pulisic), 40th minute: Pulisic and Alejandro Zendejas played a swift give-and-go down the right side and Pulisic crossed from the edge of the six-yard box. Gallardo tapped it home with ease for his second goal of the year and 11th of his U-17 MNT career. USA 2, CUB 0 

USA – Alejandro Zendejas, 43rd minute: Just before halftime, the USA worked the ball in from the left and Cuba’s Felipe Hurtado attempted a header clearance. Zendejas was there to settle the ball and ripped a long distance shot into the left of the frame to push the lead to three goals. Zendejas tallied his first international goal of 2015 and fourth during his U-17 career. USA 3, CUB 0 

USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre), 65th minute: Just seconds after entering the match, de la Torre took two quick touches in the box and set up Gallardo from 20 yards out. Gallardo fired toward the left of the frame, his shot bouncing once in the six-yard box, slightly deflected by Cuba goalkeeper Jesus Enrique Hernandez and finding its way into the back of the net. USA 4, CUB 0 

USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre), 88th minute: The USA wrapped up its scoring when de la Torre played a through ball to Gallardo at close range. Gallardo’s shot was stopped briefly by Jesus Enrique Hernandez, but bounced right back to Gallardo who capitalized on the second chance and found the left side of the frame for the hat trick. He now leads the U-17s this year with four goals this year and has 14 career goals. USA 5, CUB 0 (FINAL) 

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
CUB – Jesus Enrique Hernandez, 10th and 13th minutes: The Honduras goalkeeper was challenged early and often, required to limit the damage on a couple occasions. In the 10th minute, Hernandez lunched to his right for a diving save on Josh Perez’s strike. Hernandez allowed a rebound, but Christian Pulisic was offside. Then in the 13th minute, Hernandez again dove to his right to smother another Perez shot. 

USA – Will Pulisic, 23rd minute: Cuba’s Eduard Puga drove a free kick into the box that Alejandro Zendejas headed away. But Cuba continued to threaten in the area and had a chance to attack the net again from the left side of the box with much of the back line pushed up. Pulisic alertly darted off of his line and snared the ball at the edge of the box. 

CUB – Jesus Enrique Hernandez, 62nd minute: U.S. forward Joe Gallardo found a window to shoot from 21 yards out. Hernandez once again made a diving save to his right, making up for a Cuba back line that allowed plenty of space for the USA to work the ball in. 

Next on the Schedule:
The U-17 MNT resumes Group A play against Trinidad & Tobago at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, March 2, at Estadio Francisco Morazán in San Pedro Sula.
Broadcast information: FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_ynt; @ussoccer_esp

Additional Notes:

  • The U-17 MNT is now 4-1-0 in international play this year.
  • The USA moved to 6-0-2 all-time against Cuba in this tournament’s history.
  • Head coach Richie Williams’ starting lineup featured a 4-3-3 formation, with Will Pulisic in net and a defensive line that included John Nelson at left back, Matthew Olosunde at right back and a center back duo of team captain Hugo Arellano and Alexis Velela.
  • The midfield trio comprised of Alejandro Zendejas, Eric Calvillo and Christian Pulisic in an attacking role.
  • The front line featured Josh Perez on the left, Haji Wright on the right and Joe Gallardo in the middle.
  • Christian Pulisic and Wright earned their 30th international caps in this age group, tying for the most by any player in this cycle.
  • Every starter – other than Gallardo who was injured for much of 2014 with a leg injury – has earned 19 or more caps in this age group.
  • The USA was forced to burn an early substitution in the 28th minute when Tyler Adams entered for Calvillo, who suffered a lower leg injury.
  • Midfielder Luca de la Torre made his first appearance of the year when he entered for Zendejas in the 64th minute.
  • In the 84th minute, McKinze Gaines entered the game for Wright. Gaines is the only USA player to appear in all five international matches this year.

- U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team vs. Cuba U-17 Men’s National Team
Date: Feb. 27, 2015
Competition: 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship
Venue: Estadio Francisco Morazán; San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET (5 p.m. local)
Attendance: 720
Weather: 86 degrees; clear

Scoring Summary:    1 2 F

USA                            3 2 5 
CUB                            0 0 0

USA – Hugo Arellano (Christian Pulisic)                   5th minute
USA – Joe Gallardo (Christian Pulisic)                      40
USA – Alejandro Zendejas                                         43
USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de le Torre)                      65
USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre)                      88

Lineups: 
USA: 1-Will Pulisic; 2-Matthew Olosunde, 4-Alexis Velela, 5-Hugo Arellano (capt.), 3-John Nelson; 6-Eric Calvillo (18-Tyler Adams, 28), 20-Alejandro Zendejas (8-Luca de la Torre, 64), 10-Christian Pulisic; 7-Haji Wright (13-McKinze Gaines, 86), 9-Joe Gallardo, 11-Josh Perez
Subs Not Used: 12-Kevin Silva, 14-Tanner Dieterich, 16-Thomas McCabe, 17-Pierre da Silva, 19-Brandon Vazquez
Head coach: Richie Williams

CUB: 12-Enrique Hernandez; 2-Felipe Hurtado (18-Neisser Sando, 54), 3-Dariel Morejon, 4-Carlos Borromeo (capt.), 15-Jeffrey Delgado; 5-Jansiel Blanco, 6-Jonathan Ramirez (17-Yordan Alonso, 66), 7-Raycharles Herrera (16-Brian Savigne, 87), 10-Eduard Puga, 13-Serguey Campillo; 8-Yosniel Gonzalez 
Subs Not Used: 1-Lazaro Garcia; 9-Carlos Sebrango, 11-Nelson Betancourt, 14-Yon Hernandez, 19-Omar Romero, 20-Yordanis Barreto  
Head coach: Fidel Salazar

Stats Summary: USA / CUB
Shots: 21 / 6
Shots on Goal: 13 / 0
Saves: 0 / 8
Corner Kicks: 4 / 2
Fouls: 11 / 14
Offside: 4 / 1

Misconduct Summary: 
CUB – Felipe Hurtado (caution)                                39th minute
USA – Alejandro Zendejas (caution)                        51
USA – Haji Wright (caution)                                     69

Officials: 
Referee: Mathieu Boudeau (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Kenroy Willis (CAY)
Assistant Referee 2: Zachari Zeegelar
Fourth Official: Drew Fisher (CAN)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Joe Gallardo

U-17 MNT Kicks Off 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Today

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team kicks off the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship  (Feb. 27 to March 12) today at 5 p.m. ET. The USA has been drawn with host Honduras, Cuba, Guatemala, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in Group A. 

The U.S. opens against Cuba today at 5 p.m. ET, followed by Trinidad & Tobago (March 2), Guatemala (March 5), Honduras (March 8) and Jamaica (March 11). All of the USA’s group matches will be broadcast on FOX Sports 2, with the exception of its March 8 game against Honduras, which will be on FOX Soccer Plus. Fans can also follow on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt

The tournament, which takes place at two venues: Estadio Francisco Morazán for all Group A matches, and Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano for all Group B matches, the two Playoff games and the title match, will qualify four teams to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile this October. 

On Feb. 24, U-17 MNT head coach Richie Williams named a 20-player roster for the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship.

 u17mnt

U.S. U-17 MNT Roster by Position: Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond United), Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy)
DEFENDERS (7): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy), Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy Academy), Daniel Barbir (West Bromwich Albion), Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake AZ), John Nelson (Internationals), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal), Luca de la Torre (Fulham), Thomas McCabe (Players Development Academy), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS (6): Pierre da Silva (Orlando City Academy), McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey), Josh Perez (Unattached), Brandon Vazquez (Club Tijuana), Haji Wright (Unattached)

Qualifying Format Change: The CONCACAF U-17 Championship format has changed for 2015 with two groups of six teams. Previous tournaments had featured four groups of three teams. Under the new setup (which was also implemented earlier this year in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship), the first-place teams in Group A and Group B will automatically qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup and advance to face each other in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship Final. The second- and third-place teams in each group (four teams) will be reseeded based on group-stage results. In this playoff stage, the top seed will play the No. 4 seed and the second seed will face the No. 3 seed. The two winners from these respective games will also qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Eyes on Chile 2015: The U.S. has qualified in 14 FIFA U-16 or U-17 World Championships, which ties for the most appearances with Brazil. The 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup was the only occurrence in which the USA did not qualify for this tournament. The USA’s best performance was a fourth-place finish at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. Landon Donovan earned the Golden Ball, which honors the tournament’s MVP.

2015 U.S. U-17 MNT RESULTS 

International record: 3-1-0; overall: 3-1-0

Date

Opponent

Result

U.S. Goal Scorers

Venue

Feb. 2

Panama

2-0 W

C. Pulisic, Perez

IMG Academy; Bradenton, Fla.

Feb. 4

Panama

0-2 L

--

IMG Academy; Bradenton, Fla.

Feb. 20

Bermuda

5-2 W

C. Pulisic, Gallardo, Perez, Wright (2)

IMG Academy; Bradenton, Fla.

Feb. 22

Bermuda

4-0 W

Vazquez (2), del Rosario

IMG Academy; Bradenton, Fla.


USA Opens CONCACAF U-17 Championship against Cuba

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team faces Cuba in Group A play to open the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship on Friday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. ET. The match, which takes place at Estadio Francisco Morazan in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, will be shown live on FOX Sports 2. Four teams from the tournament will qualify directly to the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.

Here is a breakdown of the USA’s previous encounters with Cuba in this event:

  • The USA is 5-0-2 in the all-time series against Cuba in this tournament.
  • The series started with the USA defeating Cuba 1-0 on Nov. 25, 1988, in the final round of the 1988 CONCACAF U-16 Championship. The USA and Cuba, as well as Canada, advanced out of the group to qualify for the 1989 FIFA U-16 World Championship.
  • The U.S. and Cuba met twice in the 1991 CONCACAF U-16 Championship, drawing 1-1 in Group 2 on March 28, followed by the USA’s 1-0 victory in the final round on April 2 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. It was the USA’s only win in the final round, but it was enough as the U.S., Cuba and Mexico advanced to the 1991 FIFA U-17 World Championship.
  • On Aug. 23, 1992, the USA defeated Cuba 2-0 in the final round of the 1992 CONCACAF U-16 Championship. With its second consecutive win, combined with a draw between Mexico and Canada, the U.S. leapfrogged Mexico to win the tournament.
  • The USA and Cuba tied 1-1 in Group A of the 2005 CONCACAF U-17 Tournament, which proved to be the only small setback for the U.S., which won its group with a 2-0-1 record.
  • The USA’s most lopsided win against Cuba was on the shortened 2009 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, opening the tournament with a 5-0 win on April 21. Jack McInerney scored two goals and assisted two others. Luis Gil added a goal and set up both McInerney goals, and Stefan Jerome’s opening goal proved to be the game-winner. The U.S. won Group A with a 3-0-0 record. The event in Tijuana was then canceled because of a swine flu outbreak. The four semifinalists advanced to the FIFA U-17 World Cup: Group A winner USA, Group A runner-up Honduras, Group B winner Mexico and Group B runner-up Costa Rica.

Richie Williams Names 20-Player Roster for 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

CHICAGO (Feb. 24, 2015) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams has named the 20-player roster that will represent the USA at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. The U.S. opens Group A play against Cuba on Friday, Feb. 27, at Estadio Francisco Morazan in San Pedro Sula, Honduras (FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes).

“We’re very happy with the 20-man roster that we named, and we think it’s a strong and deep roster,” Williams said. “Obviously there were difficult decisions that needed to be made because we have a very good group, and we have a lot of players that have been here for a year and a half to two years that have really worked hard and developed. That made it difficult in terms of choosing that 20-man roster. It’s not easy when you have to tell players that they haven’t made it. But again, we feel this is a strong roster and it’s a group that’s ready to go and compete and win a championship.”

The USA is paired with Cuba, Guatemala, host side Honduras, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in Group A at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. After the USA’s game against Cuba on Feb. 27, the U-17 MNT faces Trinidad & Tobago on March 2, followed by Guatemala (March 5), Honduras (March 8) and Jamaica (March 11).

U.S. U-17 MNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond United), Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy)
DEFENDERS (7): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy), Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy Academy), Daniel Barbir (West Bromwich Albion), Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake AZ), John Nelson (Internationals), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal), Luca de la Torre (Fulham), Thomas McCabe (Players Development Academy), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS (6): Pierre da Silva (Orlando City Academy), McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey), Josh Perez (Unattached), Brandon Vazquez (Club Tijuana), Haji Wright (Unattached)

Four countries from the CONCACAF region will directly qualify from this tournament for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. The Group A and B winners will clinch a berth for the World Cup and earn a spot in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship title match on March 15. The group’s second- and third-place teams will advance to a playoff stage. Those four teams will be seeded, with the No. 2 and 3 seeds playing in one playoff and the No. 1 and 4 seeds in the other playoff game, both taking place on March 15. The two playoff victors will earn the other two berths for the U-17 World Cup.

Additional Roster Notes:

  • Nineteen of the 20 players also have ties to the Development Academy.
  • Much of this U-17 MNT roster played a big role in the USA’s 17-7-3 international campaign in 2014.
  • The roster includes forward Haji Wright, the leading goal scorer last year with 18 goals in 22 matches. Midfielder Christian Pulisic, who officially joined German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund earlier this month, is coming off a strong 2014 with the U-17s that included 17 goals and seven assists in international play. Both Wright and Pulisic were nominees for 2014 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year.
  • The U-17s have had a successful cycle in international competition, including four tournament titles.
  • Most of this group was part of the 2013 Nike International Friendlies championship side and earned a runner-up finish in the 2014 Nike Friendlies.
  • Also in 2014, the USA defeated host Turkey to win the Aegean Cup title, followed by a championship crown at the Josip Katalinski International Tournament in Bosnia-Herzegovina and a title run at the Panama U-17 International Tournament in early October.
  • In preparation for qualifying, the U-17s have had four international matches this month. The U.S. split a two-game set against Panama on Feb. 2 and 4, then showcased a strong offensive display this past weekend with a 5-2 victory against Bermuda on Friday, Feb. 20, followed by a 4-0 win in the rematch two days later.
  • The USA has qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup on 14 occasions, more than any other CONCACAF team. The U-17 MNT’s absence from the 2013 World Cup was the only occurrence that the USA did not qualify for that stage.

U-17 MNT Tops Bermuda 4-0, Heads to Honduras for Qualifying

BRADENTON, Florida (Feb. 22, 2015) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team wrapped up camp with a 4-0 win against Bermuda on Sunday morning at IMG Academy. U.S. forward Brandon Vazquez scored three goals in an 11-minute span in the first half, and Lucas del Rosario closed out the scoring with a goal one minute into the second half.

With possession in the offensive third, Tyler Adams sent a cross in from the right side to the back post to Pierre da Silva, who was denied from close range by the Bermuda goalkeeper. However, the rebound fell to the feet of Vazquez who knocked in from 10 yards out in the 29th minute for a 1-0 lead.

Vazquez extended the lead seven minutes later when he received a ball from George Braima and shot from just inside the box from the left side past the goalkeeper. Vazquez completed his hat trick in the 40th minute. Attacking from the left side, Da Silva found Braima at the top of the box. Braima calmly left the ball back for the on-rushing Tommy McCabe, whose shot clanked off the left post. The rebound fell to Vazquez who was kept onside to tap it in.

Just after the break, Vazquez played the setup role when he fed Del Rosario as he entered the box just right of center. Del Rosario ripped a shot high past the goalkeeper to close out the scoring in the 46th minute.

The match was the USA’s final tune-up in preparation for the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which opens with a Group A match against Cuba on Friday, Feb. 27, at Estadio Francisco Morazan in San Pedro Sula, Honduras (FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes).

U-17 MNT Rallies Past Bermuda 5-2 in Qualifying Primer

BRADENTON, Florida (Feb. 20, 2015) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team scored five unanswered goals for a 5-2 victory against Bermuda at IMG Academy. After falling behind by two goals in the opening 18 minutes, the USA stormed back, with Josh Perez’s 50th-minute goal serving as the winner.

Christian Pulisic and Joe Gallardo scored first-half goals to tie the score at 2-2 heading into the half. After Perez’s tally gave the U.S. a 3-2 lead, Haji Wright added a brace, with a penalty kick goal in the 86th minute and another score in the 88th minute. Perez had two assists on the day, setting up Gallardo and assisting Wright’s second goal.

The U.S. and Bermuda square off one more time on Sunday, Feb. 22, at IMG Academy. This will be the USA’s final match in preparation for the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which opens with a Group A match against Cuba on Friday, Feb. 27, at Estadio Francisco Morazan in San Pedro Sula, Honduras (FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes).

U-17 MNT Splits Two-Game Set with Panama

BRADENTON, Florida (Feb. 5, 2015) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team faced Panama’s U-17s and split the two-game set over a three-day stretch at IMG Academy.

The USA defeated Panama 2-0 on Monday, Feb. 2, with Christian Pulisic scoring a 42nd-minute penalty kick goal. Josh Perez padded the lead with a tally off of a Joe Gallardo assist in the 83rd minute.

In the rematch on Wednesday, Feb. 4, the USA and Panama were scoreless through nearly the entire match. However, Panama’s Jose Rodriguez scored in the 89th minute and Cesar Blackman added a goal in the third minute of stoppage time to grab the 2-0 victory.

The U-17 MNT is gearing up for the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. The USA opens Group A play against Cuba on Friday, Feb. 27, at San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Four teams from the tournament will directly qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.

Richie Williams Names 28 Players to U-17 MNT 2015 Spring Residency Roster

CHICAGO (Jan. 27, 2015) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams has invited 28 players to the 2015 Spring Semester of the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida.

In late February and early March, the U-17 MNT will be participating in the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which serves as the qualifying tournament for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup for the CONCACAF region.

“This is an important semester for us and an important year for this cycle,” Williams said. “With World Cup qualifying at the beginning of March, it will be important for us to continue training well and performing well. We also need to find a balance with this group and some of the players who are not with us on a regular basis to form a 20-man roster that will head to qualifying to compete and get results.”

The U-17 Residency Program roster features 24 players who were with the team during the 2014 fall semester. The four newcomers to the group are defender Matthew Constant, midfielder Giuseppe Barone and forwards Elvir Ibisevic and Josh Perez.

The Residency roster also includes 25 players currently registered with Development Academy clubs, and 27 in all with ties to the Academy.

U.S. U-17 MNT Roster by Position: Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Eric Lopez (LA Galaxy; Westminster, Calif.), Will Pulisic (Richmond United; Mechanicsville, Va.), Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy; Bethlehem, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (9): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy; Wappingers Falls, N.Y.), Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy Academy; Norwalk, Calif.), Matthew Constant (Dallas Texans; Carrollton, Texas), Nikkye De Point (Revolution Empire; Rochester, N.Y.), Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake AZ; Nashville, Tenn.), John Nelson (Internationals; Medina, Ohio), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy; Trenton, N.J.), Logan Panchot (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; St. Louis, Mo.), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Giuseppe Barone (Crew SC Academy Wolves; Grandville, Mich.), George Braima (Crew SC Academy; Columbus, Ohio), Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal; Palmdale, Calif.), Keegan Kelly (Baltimore Celtic; Baltimore, Md.), Thomas McCabe (Players Development Academy; South Orange, N.J.), Luka Prpa (Chicago Magic PSG; Wind Lake, Wis.), Nick Taitague (Richmond United; Midlothian, Va.), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas Academy; El Paso, Texas)
FORWARDS (8): Pierre Da Silva (Orlando City SC; Port Chester, N.Y.), Lucas Del Rosario (Capital Area RailHawks Academy – CASL; Durham, N.C.), McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC; Austin, Texas), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey; San Diego, Calif.), Elvir Ibisevic (Sporting Iowa; Urbandale, Iowa), Eric Matzelevich (Bethesda-Olney; Washington, D.C.), Josh Perez (Unattached; La Habra, Calif.), Elijah Rice (Chicago Magic PSG; Highland Park, Ill.)

About the U-17 Residency Program:
The U.S. players live on campus at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and train in the morning under the guidance of the U.S. U-17 MNT coaching staff. In the afternoon, the players attend classes at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. While in the full-time residency program, the U.S. not only trains daily, but also has access to the IMG Academy facilities. The team regularly uses IMG’s state-of-the-art strength-training facilities, as well as some of the nation’s best sports psychologists who work at the Academy. The IMG Academies include top-of-the-line soccer equipment, Bermuda grass fields, renovated student housing and dining facilities.

Since its inception, approximately 400 players have been through the full-time Residency Program, and more than 100 players have moved on to Major League Soccer and other professional leagues.

The first full-time U.S. Soccer Residency Program began on Jan. 17, 1999, when U.S. Soccer collected 20 of the country’s elite youth players to train year-round.

U-17 MNT Ready to Tackle Trinidad & Tobago

The U-17 MNT prepares for the second game in the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship against Trinidad & Tobago.

U-17 MNT vs. Cuba: Highlights - Feb. 27, 2015

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team kicks off the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship with a 5-0 victory against Cuba.

U-17 MNT Ready to Open World Cup Qualifying

U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team head coach Richie Williams and captain Hugo Arellano talk about prepping for the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship ahead of the opening match against Cuba on Friday in Honduras.

U-17 MNT Plays 2014 Nike International Friendlies

ussoccer.com takes a look back at the U-17 MNT's run through the 2014 Nike International Friendlies, culminated by a chance to win the title in the pivotal final game against Brazil.

U-17 MNT vs. Australia: Reaction – Nov. 30, 2014

Richie Williams recaps the USA’s win against Australia at the Nike International Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

U-17 MNT vs. Australia: Highlights – Nov. 30, 2014

The U.S. U-17 MNT overcame an early Australian goal with a goal in each half to post a 2-1 win on match day 2 of the 2014 Nike International Friendlies.

U-17 MNT vs. England: Reaction - Nov. 28, 2014

U-17 MNT Head Coach Richie Williams, midfielder Christian Pulisic, and goalkeeper Kevin Silva talk about the USA's opening win of the 2014 Nike International Friendlies.

U-17 MNT vs. England: Highlights - Nov. 28, 2014

Guided by a balanced attack and a strong defense, the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team took down England 3-1 in its opening match of the 2014 Nike International Friendlies.

Christian Pulisic, U-17 MNT Riding Yearlong Wave of Success

Christian Pulisic reflects on the U-17 MNT's improvement and growth after a year of residency, his start at PA Classics, and the healthy pressure the team feels after tasting international success.

U-17 MNT vs. Ecuador: Highlights - Aug. 8, 2014

The U.S. U-17 MNT fell to Ecuador 2-1 in the semifinals of the 2014 Copa Mexico de Naciones.
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