Preview: USA Primed For Success At FIFA U-17 World Cup

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team kicks off the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil on Sunday, Oct. 27 against Senegal (3:50 p.m. ET; FS1, Telemundo).
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team kicks off the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil on Sunday, Oct. 27 against Senegal (3:50 p.m. ET; FS1, Telemundo). The tournament represents the culmination of a two-year cycle, as the U-17s have put together a 17-8-5 international record since Dec. 2017. Participating in a record 17th FIFA U-17 World Cup, the USA continues Group D play on Wednesday, Oct. 30 vs. Japan (6:50 p.m. ET; FS2, Universo) and wraps up the group stage on Saturday, Nov. 2 vs. Netherlands (6:50 p.m. ET; FS2, Universo).

The USA’s first two games will be played at Estadio Kleber Andrade in Cariacica on Brazil’s southeastern coast, while the final group game will be played at Estadio da Serrinha in Goiania, about 125 miles southwest of Brasilia. Follow the U-17 MNT throughout the tournament on, Twitter and Instagram.

U-17 MNT Schedule – FIFA U-17 World Cup Group D




Time (ET)

TV Info

Sunday, Oct. 27


Estadio Kleber Andrade; Cariacica, Brazil

3:50 p.m.

FS1, Telemundo

Wednesday, Oct. 30


Estadio Kleber Andrade; Cariacica, Brazil


6:50 p.m.

FS2, Universo

Saturday, Nov. 2


Estadio da Serrinha; Goiania, Brazil


6:50 p.m.

FS2, Universo


DIGITAL MEDIA GUIDE: For more information on the U.S. U-17 MNT at the U-17 World Cup in Poland, check out the team’s digital media guide here.

WATCH THE FIFA U-17 WC: All of the USA’s matches at the U-17 World Cup will be broadcast on the Fox Sports and Telemundo platforms. The first game will be broadcast live on FS1 and Telemundo, while the second and third matches will be broadcast live on FS2 and Universo. The full broadcast schedule can be found here.

HOW WE GOT HERE: The 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship presented the confederation’s most expansive U-17 World Cup qualifying tournament ever, with 20 teams vying for four tickets to Brazil. 

Drawn into Group F, the USA faced Canada in its opener and quickly fell behind 2-0, but roared back with three second-half goals for a 3-2 win before adding victories against Barbados and Guatemala in the group stage.

Entering the knockout round, the USA needed two victories to punch its World Cup ticket. In the Round of 16 vs. Guadeloupe, the U-17s left no doubt, rolling past the island nation 8-0. Despite a testy first half vs. Panama in the quarterfinals, the U.S. broke through in the second with goals from Gianluca Busio, Gio Reyna and forward Ricardo Pepi to clinch a record 17th FIFA U-17 World Cup berth.

A rematch with Canada awaited in the semifinals, and despite another scoreless first half, the floodgates opened in the second for a 4-0 victory. Archrival Mexico loomed in the championship match and while the USA got off to a quick start, ultimately fell 2-1 in extra time.

The U.S. defense was impressive throughout qualifying, not allowing a goal for 323 consecutive minutes during the stretch run of the tournament. In total, the USA outscored its opponents 28-5 at the competition. Four players were named to the tournament Best XI: defender Kobe Hernandez, midfielder Daniel Leyva and forwards Gianluca Busio and Gio Reyna.

RUN-UP TO BRAZIL: Since securing its berth in Brazil last May, the USA gathered for a domestic training camp in July/August and a friendly tournament in the Netherlands. There, the USA got some revenge against Mexico, using a 90th minute goal to earn a 2-1 win and downed European champion and fellow Group D member Netherlands 3-1. The U-17s gathered in Brazil on Oct. 16 to begin preparations for the tournament.

A number of players on the World Cup squad arrived in South America after reaching milestones at the club level. Forward Gianluca Busio will enter the World Cup as the USA’s most-experienced professional ever at this tournament after making 22 appearances for Sporting Kansas City this season. Forward Ricardo Pepi bagged a brace in the USL League One Championship Semifinals just before leaving for Brazil, finishing the regular season as the league’s fifth-leading scorer. Defenders George Bello and Joe Scally as well as midfielder Daniel Leyva netted their first goals of the season in the lead-up to Brazil. Leyva’s tally was his first professional goal.

REPPING THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE: Head coach Raphael Wicky has assembled a talented 21-player roster for the 2019 World Cup. Thirteen players have seen professional minutes this season in MLS or USL and 14 return from the USA’s 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship squad that punched the team’s ticket to Brazil.

The roster is made up of 19 players born in 2002 and two born in 2003. Seventeen players are based domestically, while four ply their trade abroad in England (two) and Germany (two).


GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Aaron Cervantes (Orange County SC; Chino Hills, Calif.; 4/0), 1-Damian Las (Fulham/ENG; Norridge, Ill.; 19/0), 12-Chituru Odunze(Leicester City/ENG; London, England; 7/0)

 15-Sebastian Anderson (Colorado Rapids; Highlands Ranch, Colo.; 4/0), 13-Adam Armour (North Carolina FC; Cary, N.C.; 18/0), 3-George Bello (Atlanta United FC; Douglasville, Ga.; 8/1), 4-Nicolas Carrera (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas; 3/0), 14-Tayvon Gray (New York City FC; Bronx, N.Y.; 17/0), 5-Kobe Hernandez-Foster (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.; 23/3), 2-Joe Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.; 19/1)

MIDFIELDERS (5): 18-Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg/GER; Frankfurt, Germany; 2/0), 17-Ethan Dobbelaere (Seattle Sounders FC; Seattle, Wash.; 3/0), 8-Bryang Kayo (Orange County SC; Poolesville, Md.; 8/1), 6-Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders FC; Las Vegas, Nev.; 7/0), 16-Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy; Panorama City, Calif.; 25/2)

 7-Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greensboro, N.C.; 15/7), 20-Andres Jasson (New York City FC; Greenwich, Conn.; 11/1), 19-Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Seattle Sounders FC; Merced, Calif.; 24/9), 9-Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas; 15/5), 10-Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; Bedford, N.Y.; 15/8), 11-Griffin Yow (D.C. United; Clifton, Va.; 12/7)


  • Nine players have been signed to MLS Homegrown contracts.

  • Twelve different states are represented on the roster, with the most players coming from California and New York (three each).

  • This will be head coach Raphael Wicky’s first World Cup at the helm of the U-17 USMNT. He played in the 2006 FIFA World Cup for Switzerland, making four of his 75 appearances during that tournament.

  • Wicky brings 27 years of experience as a player and coach in Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the United States to U.S. Soccer. Prior to joining the U-17s, he coached FC Basel to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 after rising through the ranks of the club’s youth system.

  • Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez enters the tournament as the U-17s’ leading scorer with nine goals.

  • Adam Saldana is the team’s most experienced player with 25 caps. Both Saldana and goalkeeper Damian Las have participated in all fourteen U-17 training camps/events in the lead-up to the World Cup.

A number of players on the World Cup squad joined the team for the first time this summer and made their U-17 debuts in the Netherlands. Defender Nicolas Carrera and midfielder Ethan Dobbelaere all earned their first Youth National Team call-up for the U-17s’ July/August training camp in Southern California and impressed in their international debuts vs. Mexico at the 4 Nations Tournament. The summer California camp was midfielder Maximilian Dietz’s second call-up, and he also picked up his first cap in the Netherlands.

FOUR-YEAR JOURNEY: On the other hand, a number of players have been a part of this squad since the U-15 Boys’ National Team in 2016-17. Seven players represented the USA at the 2017 Concacaf U-15 Boys’ Championship, the culmination of the U-15 BNT cycle: goalkeeper Damian Las, defenders George Bello and Joe Scally, midfielder Adam Saldana and forwards Gianluca Busio, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Gio Reyna.

FROM DA TO THE GLOBAL STAGE: Twenty of the 21 players on the U-17 World Cup roster have spent at least one season in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. Launched in 2007 with the goal to impact everyday club environments to develop world-class players, the program has had a tremendous impact on the Youth National Team setup.

In addition to the 14 players from MLS clubs who came up through their respective academies and North Carolina FC’s Adam Armour, the remaining five players last played for the following DA teams: Aaron Cervantes (Pateadores), Kobe Hernandez-Foster (LA Galaxy), Bryang Kayo (D.C. United), Damian Las (Chicago Fire), Chituru Odunze (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Gio Reyna (New York City FC).

Four players were named to Academy Best XIs at the end of last season- defender Adam Armour (East), Tayvon Gray (East), Hernandez-Foster (West) and Kayo (East), while three players have won Academy Player of the Year honors- Hernandez-Foster (West, 2019), Reyna (East U-16/17, 2018) and defender George Bello (East U-15/16, 2017).

Gray and forward Andres Jasson are two-time Academy champions with New York City FC U-18/19 (2018 and 2019). Reyna and defender Joe Scally were also a part of NYC’s 2018 national champion squad. Midifelders Ethan Dobbelaere and Daniel Leyva as well as forward Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez won the 2018 U-16/17 Academy Championship with Seattle Sounders FC, while Bello helped Atlanta United U-15/16 take home the 2017 U-15/16 Academy Championship.

TWENTY-FOUR TEAMS, ONE CHAMPION: This year marks the 18th edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The biennial competition began in 1985 as the FIFA U-16 World Championship. Twenty-four teams have qualified for the U-17 World Cup through continental competitions and have been drawn into six groups. The top two finishers in each group, as well as the four best-ranked third-place teams will advance to the Round of 16. From there, it’s a knockout round bracket to the tournament final. The competition will be played at four venues across Brazil.

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group E

Group F



Korea Republic










New Zealand












The United States have qualified for a record 17 U-17 World Cups, tied with Brazil for the most appearances all-time. The 2019 tournament marks the 20-year anniversary of the USA’s best performance at this competition: a fourth-place finish at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. Future Men’s National Team legends Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley won the Golden and Silver Balls as the tournament’s best players after leading the red, white and blue to the semifinals alongside fellow future senior team stars Kyle Beckerman, Bobby Convey and Oguchi Onyewu.

LAST TIME OUT: Two years ago at the 2017 edition in India, the USA enjoyed a thrilling ride to the quarterfinals. The tournament smashed attendance records for a U-17 WC, and over 46,000 fans were in attendance for the opening match that pitted the USA against host India. In the Round of 16, Tim Weah netted the first-ever hat trick by a U.S. Men’s player in the knockout round of a World Cup during a 5-0 rout of Paraguay before the USA fell to eventual champion England in the quarterfinals.

Three players from the 2017 U-17 squad have already made their debuts for the USMNT: Sergiño Dest, Josh Sargent and Weah, with the latter pair being two of the youngest players to score for the senior squad.


  • The USA will face Senegal in the African nation’s first-ever match at the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
  • African nations have a history of success at this competition, winning seven of 17 tournaments.
  • Twenty of twenty-one players are based domestically at six clubs in Senegal, with the most players coming from Diambars FC.
  • One player, midfielder Ibrahima Sy, is on the books at French Ligue 1 club Reims.
  • Head coach Malick Daf will lead Senegal at the World Cup. He also coaches at Jaraaf Dakar, one of the country’s most-successful clubs.

Senegal Roster by Position (Club)

GOALKEEPERS (3): 16-Aliou Diallo (Diambars FC), 1-Ousmane Ba (Generation Foot), 21-Pape Dione (Acad. Foot Darou Salam Dakar)

DEFENDERS (7): 2-Thibaut Aubertin (Generation Foot), 12-Birame Diaw (Galaxy Football Academy Dakar), 3-Cheikh Diouf (Diambars FC), 15-Mikayil Faye (Diambars FC), 4-Bacary Sane (Diambars FC), 5-Cheikhou Ndiaye (Generation Foot), 17-Mbaye Ndiaye (AS Dakar Sacre Coeur)

MIDFIELDERS (8): 19-Insa Boye (Diambaars FC), 14-Ibrahima Cissoko (US Goree), 8-Boubacar Diallo (Diambars FC), 11-Samba Diallo (Acad. Foot Darou Salam Dakar), 6-Amete Faye (Diambars FC), 13-Issaga Kane (Galaxy Football Academy Dakar), 18-Pape Sarr (Generation Foot), 20-Ibrahima Sy (Reims/FRA)

FORWARDS (3): 7-Aliou Balde (Diambars FC), 10-Mouhamadou Diaw (Diambars FC), 9-Souleymane Faye (Galaxy Football Academy Dakar)


  • Senegal qualified for the tournament at the 2019 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations after runner-up Guinea was disqualified for fielding overage players at the competition. Senegal finished behind Guinea in the group stage.

  • Les Lions de la Téranga were making just their second appearance at the African World Cup qualifying tournament, and finished 0-2-1, drawing Morocco and eventual champion Cameroon.

  • Forward Allou Balde and midfielder Boubacar Diallo scored Senegal’s two goals at the competition.


  • Players born on or after Jan. 1, 2002 are eligible for this tournament.

  • Single yellow cards will be absolved after the quarterfinal round.

  • Two cautions received during two different matches will result in suspension for the following match.

  • If a player is sent off as a result of a direct or indirect red card, she will be suspended for the following match.

  • Should teams be tied on points at the end of the group stage, the tie-breakers are as follows:

  • a) greatest number of points obtained in all group matches

  • b) goal difference in all matches

  • c) greatest number of goals scored

  • If two or more teams are still tied on the basis of the first three criteria, the ranking will be determined as follows:

  • d) greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned

  • e) goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned

  • f) greatest number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned

  • g) FIFA Fair Play points

  • h) drawing of lots

  • Third-placed teams will be ranked as follows:

  • a) Greatest number of points obtained in all group matches

  • b) Goal difference in all group matches

  • c) Greatest number of goals scored in all group matches

  • d) FIFA Fair Play points

  • e) Drawing of lots

  • In the knockout stages, if a match is tied at the end of regulation, no extra time will be played and the winner will be determined by a penalty-kick shootout.


  • 2 players born in 2003, playing a year up at the U-17 World Cup: midfielder Daniel Leyva and forward Ricardo Pepi.

  • 3 players each come from New York City FC and Seattle Sounders FC, the most-represented clubs on the roster.

  • 4 players based internationally on the roster, two in England and two in Germany.

  • 7 teams have qualified for the last three U-17 World Cups, including the USA.

  • 9 appearances for the U.S. in the knockout rounds of the U-17 World Cup.

  • 14 clubs are represented on the roster.

  • 17 appearances for the USA at the U-17 World Cup, tied for the most all-time

  • 20 years since the U-17 MNT’s best performance ever at this tournament: a fourth-place finish at the 1999 tournament in New Zealand, led by future USMNT legends Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley.

  • 25 caps for midfielder Adam Saldana, the most on the team.

  • 29 MLS appearances for Gianluca Busio heading into the World Cup, the most first-division pro appearances for any U.S. player ever.

  • 30 international games played by the U-17 MNT this cycle, facing off against 18 different countries.

  • 40 teams that the U-17s have played at the U-17 WC. They will add another when they face Senegal in their tournament opener.

  • 58 goals scored by the U-17 MNT this cycle. Nineteen players have scored bfor the USA, led by nine from forward Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez.

  • 58 players have logged minutes for the U-17 MNT this cycle.

  • 60 games played all-time by the U-17 MNT at this tournament.

  • 85 goals scored by the USA all-time at the U-17 WC

  • 651 minutes played by Gianluca Busio this year, the most on the team.

Wicky was named head coach of the U-17 MNT in March 2019, joining U.S. Soccer with 27 years of experience as a player and coach in Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.

  • Wicky most recently coached FC Basel to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 in 2018. His appointment at Basel, one of Switzerland’s most successful clubs, came after climbing the ladder as head coach for the club’s U-18, U-19 and U-21 squads.

  • Prior to Basel, Wicky worked in the youth system for another of Switzerland’s most successful clubs, Servette FC, at the U-14, U-15 and U-16 levels.

  • He also spent time as an assistant with the Swiss U-20 Men’s National Team and FC Thun’s U-21 team.

  • As a player, Wicky was a 12-year veteran with the Swiss National Team, earning 75 caps. His career was highlighted by appearances at the 2006 FIFA World Cup as well as the 1996 and 2004 UEFA European Championships.

  • A fixture for the Swiss, Wicky started all four matches for his country at the 2006 World Cup. He was the second youngest player for Switzerland at Euro ‘96, the country’s first-ever appearance at the tournament.

  • During his pro career, Wicky won three straight Swiss Cups with FC Sion before a long Bundesliga career with Werder Bremen and Hamburg, making 200 combined appearances for the two clubs.