The U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team is kicking off a new cycle at this week’s 2017 Nike International Friendlies. After two tough matches, the USA wraps up against Brazil on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. ET (ussoccer.com, Facebook, YouTube). Here are five things you need to know about the rising U-17s’ match against the Canarinho.
THE STORY SO FAR
Established in 2001, the Nike International Friendlies is one of the premier annual events on the youth soccer calendar, bringing high-quality opponents stateside for the U-17 MNT.
Giovanni has starred in Brazil’s first two matches, leading all players with three goals in matching two victories against the Netherlands and England. The Brazilians earned a 2-1 victory over a physical Dutch team in their first match, as Giovanni scored towards the end of each half while captaining the squad. Against England, Brazil was faced with an early deficit, but Giovanni knotted it up in the 32nd minute and assisted on Alejandro’s eventual game-winner in the 39th.
The opening two matches of the Friendlies have been a learning experience for the newly-minted USA U-17s. In a tight opener against England, goalkeeper Damian Las made several highlight-reel saves to keep things even until late in the match, but England finally broke through in the 79th minute to hand the USA a 1-0 loss. Fielding a fresh starting 11 on Wednesday night, the USA fell 5-1 to the Netherlands as Alfonso Ocampo Chavez scored the U-17s’ first goal of the cycle.
THE YOUNG AMERICANS
After the USA’s impressive run to the quarterfinals of October’s U-17 World Cup, the Nike International Friendlies turn the page for the U-17 MNT program. The 20-player roster, all born in 2002 or later, represent the beginning of a new cycle for the squad. This group competed at the U-15 level for the last two years – notably finishing second at the 2017 CONCACAF U-15 Boys Championship – and will now train and compete for the next two years in preparation for the 2019 CONCACAF U-17 Championship with hopes of qualifying to the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
All 20 players are U.S. Soccer Development Academy products. Two have already signed MLS Homegrown contracts with their clubs: Atlanta United FC’s George Bello and Sporting Kansas City’s Gianluca Busio. The Seattle Sounders are the most-represented club on the roster, supplying three players in Ocampo Chavez, Gilbert Fuente Perez and Ray Serrano.
U.S. U-17 MNT Roster – 2017 Nike International Friendlies (Club, Hometown):
GOALKEEPERS (2): Damian Las (Chicago Fire; Norridge, Ill.), Kashope Oladapo (Portland Timbers; Happy Valley, Ore.)
DEFENDERS (6): Axel Alejandre (FC United Soccer Club; Chicago, Ill.), Sebastian Anderson (Colorado Rapids; Highlands Ranch, Co.), George Bello (Atlanta United FC; Douglasville, Ga.), Mason Judge (Chargers Soccer Club; Tampa, Fla.), Kenneth Nielsen (Pateadores; Irvine, Calif.), Joseph Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Joshua Atencio (Seattle Sounders FC; Bellevue, Wash.), Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greensboro, NC), Adam Saldana (Real So Cal; Panorama City, Calif.), Gilbert Fuentes Perez (San Jose Earthquakes; Tracy, Calif.), Maximillian Goeggel (VFB Stuttgart; San Francisco, Calif.), Peter Stroud (New York Red Bulls; Chester, NJ)
FORWARDS (6): Julian Gaines (Lonestar Soccer Club; Austin, Tex.), Cade Hagan (Sockers FC; Naperville, Ill.), Diego Lopez (FC Golden State; Chino, Calif.), Alfonso Ocampo Chavez (Seattle Sounders FC; Fresno, Calif.), Dante Sealy (FC Dallas; Frisco, Tex.), Ray Serrano (Seattle Sounders FC; Graham, Wash.)
Brazil has been a frequent foe for the USA at the Nike Friendlies, as the Canarinho have attended nearly every iteration of the tournament. Last year, the U-17s closed out a championship run with a 3-0 victory against Brazil. Ayo Akinola, Josh Sargent and Tim Weah all scored in Lakewood Ranch and went on to score for the USA in India.
Some of Brazil’s current biggest stars have passed through the Friendlies, including Neymar, Marcelo and Philippe Coutinho.
BRAZIL YOUTH HISTORY
Like the USA, Brazil has missed just one of the 17 FIFA U-17 World Cups that have been contested. They’ve been incredibly successful at the tournament, winning it all back-to-back in 1997 and 1999 as well as in 2003. In 2003, Brazil became the first-ever nation to win both the U-17 and U-20 World Cup in the same year, a feat matched by England this year. In India at this year’s U-17 World Cup, the Brazilians were eliminated in the Semifinals by the same Englisih squad that knocked out the USA.
Brazil has dominated at the U-17 level in continental competition, winning 12 of 17 editions of South American U-17 Football Championship. The Canarinho has never placed lower than fourth at the tournament, which began in 1985.
Kicking off a new U-17 cycle, Brazil brings 20 players, all born in 2002, to the Premier Sports Campus. Every member of the roster competes for Brazillian clubs, with the most players (four) hailing from Palmeiras.
Brazil U-17 MNT Roster – 2017 Nike International Friendlies (Club):
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bruno Carcaioli (Palmeiras), Pedro Henrique (Cortitiba FC)
DEFENDERS (7): Alysson (Cruzeiro EC), Deivid (EC Juventude), Derick (Santos FC), Gabriel Rodrigues (São Paulo FC), Gustavo (Palmeiras), Emerson (Palmeiras), Yago (Grêmio FBPA)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Bruno Conceição (Fluminense FC), Dhouglas (CR Flamengo), Giovanni (Santos FC), Hiago (SE Palmeiras), Sandry (Santos FC)
FORWARDS (6): Alejandro (Cruzeiro EC), Bruno (Desportivo Brasil), Gabriel Borsatto (CR Vasco da Gama), Lazaro (CR Flamengo), Miguel (Fluminense FC), Wesley (Grêmio FBPA)