CHICAGO (Tuesday, February 25, 2003) - U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Ellinger announced his 18-man roster today for the CONCACAF Group A Qualifying Tournament that takes place from March 5-9 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The U.S., who have posted a 46-18-12 record since January 2002, will depart for Guatemala on March 2, after spending four days training in Sunrise, Fla.
The U.S. Under-17s are the only country in the world to qualify for every Under-17 FIFA World Championship, but head coach John Ellinger and his team will face one of their toughest tasks to advance to their tenth world championship. The U.S. opens the qualifying tournament on March 5 against Jamaica, before facing El Salvador on March 7 and wrapping up the qualifying tournament against the hosts, Guatemala, on March 9.
The top team from the four-team qualifying group will advance to the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Finland, and the second-place team will advance to a home-and-home play-off against the second-place team from CONCACAF Group B, which includes Mexico, Canada, Cuba and Costa Rica. The Group B tournament will be held in Canada from March 26-30, 2003.
“We have quite a challenging road in front of us with matches against Jamaica, El Salvador and Guatemala, and we will need to play three very solid games to give ourselves a chance to advance to Finland 2003,” said U.S. Under-17 head coach John Ellinger. “However, I have confidence that our players will rise to the challenge and put forth a great effort in a very difficult environment. We know what we need to do to qualify, and I know the players are looking forward to getting to Guatemala and stepping onto the field.”
Ellinger will turn to a quartet of talented attackers to generate the majority of the team’s offense in Guatemala. Recent MLS draftees Guillermo Gonzalez (26 goals) and Eddie Gaven (17), along with fleet-footed Corey Ashe (14) and 13-year-old Freddy Adu (24) have combined to score 81 goals in the past 14 months. Forward Jamie Watson, who has totaled nine goals and seven assists in 16 matches since joining the team last fall, will provide the U.S. with an offensive spark off the bench.
John DiRaimondo and Ashe patrol the midfield flanks for the Ellinger’s squad, and Brian Grazier, Danny Szetela and Gonzalez combine to man the center of the field. Michael Harrington and Steve Curfman provide the U.S. side with depth and options in the midfield.
Defensively, the U.S. is headed by a pair of skillful, physical centerbacks in Jonathan Spector and Brandon Owens, and a set of two talented goalkeepers, Phil Marfuggi and Quentin Westberg. Adrian Chevannes and Chris Germani have started recently at right and left back, respectively, and they’ll be ably backed up by Kyle Helton, while Julian Valentin gives support at all four backline positions.
The U.S. Under-17s shattered several U.S. Soccer records in 2002, setting new marks for wins in a year (40), games played (66) and shutouts (25). The Under-17s posted a 40-15-11 record in 2002, scoring more than twice as many goals as their opponents (153 goals for, 74 goals against). The team closed out the year with only two losses in their final 25 matches, losing a pair of 1-0 games in the final week of December.
The U.S. Under-17s won the CONCACAF Group A qualifying tournament in 2001, finishing with a perfect 3-0-0 record after wins against Jamaica (2-1), Canada (4-2) and El Salvador (4-0). In 1999, Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Co., finished second in their CONCACAF Group with one win and two draws and were thrown into a two-game playoff against El Salvador for CONCACAF’s final berth in the world championship. The U.S. won both legs of the playoff (6-1 in El Salvador and 4-0 in Columbus, Ohio) and advanced to New Zealand ’99, where they finished a U.S. Soccer-best fourth place.
The 2003 Under-17 World Championship will be held in Finland in August 2003. Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Lathi will serve as the four host cities for the 32 matches that will take place from August 13-30, 2003.
|Adu, Freddy||F||5'8"||140||06/02/89||Potomac, Md.||Bethesda International|
|Ashe, Corey||F||5'5"||135||03/14/86||Virginia Beach, Va.||Beach FC Impact|
|Chevannes, Adrian||D||5'11"||175||06/17/86||Ft. Worth, Texas||Club Dallas|
|Curfman, Steven||M||5'11"||155||10/08/86||Raleigh, N.C.||CASL Elite|
|DiRaimondo, John||M||5'6"||140||04/23/86||St Louis, Mo.||Busch SC|
|Gaven, Eddie||F||6'0"||145||10/25/86||Hamilton, N.J.||MetroStars (MLS)|
|Germani, Chris||D/M||5'6"||140||07/10/86||Yardley, Pa.||FC Delco|
|Gonzalez, Guillermo||M||5'11"||145||01/04/86||Paramount, Calif.||Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)|
|Grazier, Brian||M||5'11"||145||03/17/86||Edwardsville, Ill.||Metro FC|
|Harrington, Michael||F||5'11"||155||01/24/86||Greenville, N.C.||CASL Elite|
|Helton, Kyle||D||5'7"||155||05/20/86||Alpharetta, Ga.||Atlanta Fire|
|Marfuggi, Phil||GK||5'11"||165||01/15/86||West Windsor, N.J.||PDA United|
|Owens, Brandon||D||5'11"||160||01/23/86||Murrieta, Calif.||La Jolla Nomads|
|Spector, Jonathan||D||6'0"||165||03/01/86||Arlington, Heights, Ill.||Sockers FC|
|Szetela, Daniel||M||5'9"||160||06/17/87||Clifton, N.J.||World Class Olympic|
|Valentin, Julian||M||5'10"||155||02/23/87||Lancaster, Pa.||Leeds United|
|Watson, Jamie||F||5'8"||145||04/10/86||Coppell, Texas||Dallas Comets|
|Westberg, Quentin||GK||6'0"||165||04/25/86||Saint Cloud, France||Troyes (France)|
Under-17 Men’s National Team Staff
Head Coach: John Ellinger (Bradenton, Fla.)
Assistant Coach: John Hackworth (Bradenton, Fla.)
Goalkeeper Coach: Peter Mellor (Longboat Key, Fla.)
Scout: Juan Carlos Michia (Miami)
Manager: Jeff McRaney (Palmetto, Fla.)
Doctor: Jimmy Gilbert (Silver Spring, Md.)
Trainer: Jacob Joachim (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Team Coordinator/Equipment Manager: R.J. Noto (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Security Officer: Gene Williams (Bracy, Va.)
Press Officer: Forrest Eber (Chicago)