CHICAGO (Sept. 28, 2018) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will travel to Mexico City from Sept. 30-Oct. 8 to compete in the 2018 Four Nations Tournament. The USA will face Argentina on Oct. 4, Mexico the following day and conclude the competiton against Chile on Oct. 7.
U.S. U-16 Boys’ National Team head coach Shaun Tsakiris, who will lead the group during the tournament, has named 20 players to the roster. Six players are receiveing their first call-up to the U-17 player pool: Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes), Mauricio Cuevas (LA Galaxy), James Dunning (Feyenoord), Mario Penagos (Sacramento Republic FC), Daniel Robles (Seattle Sounders FC) and Aiden Weaver (PA Classics).
The roster, which consists of 18 players born in 2002 – the age cut off year for the next U-17 World Cup – and two born in 2003, is made up primarily of core players who have played in key parts of the current cycle.
“At this time of the cycle, it’s about trying to identify players to make the depth chart a little bit deeper,” Tsakiris said. “Any opportunity that we have to give players a chance to show they deserve to be in the pool and in the cycle at this important time is imperative. We want to reward guys who have done well for the U-16 Boys’ National Team. Tyler Freeman did very well in Costa Rica and now we’ll get a chance to evaluate if Cade Cowell and Mauricio Cuevas could potentially help our U-17s as they get closer to qualifying.”
Of the 20 players called up for the tournament, 18 have registered at least one season in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Four players from the roster have earned Academy Best XI selections: Axel Alejandre, Kobe Hernandez, Damian Las and Adam Saldana.
The trip to Mexico marks the seventh camp of the cycle. The squad has also traveled to Spain and Costa Rica, where the team’s international competition included games against India (1-0, 1-0), Norway (2-0, 1-0), Costa Rica (2-2, 2-1) and Mexico (1-0, 1-2).
“We respect all three teams that are in this tournament. Any chance we have to play these types of teams, I think there are many valuable takeaways that we can bring from this tournament when we start to prepare this team for qualifying,” Tsakiris said. “We want to gauge where our players match up against top teams, whether it’s in Central America or South America. This is a great test for our group and we are looking forward to three really good matches.”
This group of players is nine months into its two-year cycle as the U-17 MNT and will transition to the U-19 team in 2020. The group forms the core of players who will compete at the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship for a regional title and berth to the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The group began its cycle last December at the 2017 Nike International Friendlies before taking part in the inaugural U.S. Soccer Men's YNT Summit one month later.
Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Aaron Cervantes (Orange County Soccer Club; Chino Hills, Calif.), Damian Las (Chicago Fire; Norridge, Ill.)
DEFENDERS (7): Axel Alejandre (FC United; Chicago, Ill.), Adam Armour (North Carolina FC; Cary, N.C.), Michael Barragan (Atlas FC; Guadalajara, Mexico), Mauricio Cuevas (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Kobe Hernandez (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Antino Lopez (Shattuck-St. Mary's; Las Vegas, Nev.), Kenny Nielsen (Pateadores; Irvine, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Josh Atencio (Seattle Sounders FC; Bellevue, Wash.), James Dunning (Feyenoord; Rotterdam, Netherlands), Gilbert Fuentes (San Jose Earthquakes; Tracy, Calif.), Daniel Robles (Seattle Sounders FC; White Center, Wash.), Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy; Panorama City, Calif.), Aiden Weaver (PA Classics; Elizabethtown, Pa.)
FORWARDS (5): Sagir David Arce (Monarcas Morelia; Chihuahua, Mexico), Cade Cowell (San Jose Earthquakes; Ceres, Calif.), Alfonso Ocampo Chavez (Seattle Sounders FC; Kent, Wash.), Mario Penagos (Sacramento Republic FC; Elk Grove, Calif.), Ray Serrano (Seattle Sounders FC; Graham, Wash.)