The youngest U.S. player at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 20 years, forward Nimfasha Berchimas has made a splash with a team-leading three goals at the competition. Here are five things to know about the 15-year-old forward that helped the U.S. to a strong start in Indonesia:
GROWING UP/OFF THE FIELD
Berchimas was born in Tanzania before his family moved to the United States in search of a better life when he was just a few months old. The fourth of six boys, his family first settled in Georgia, where he lived until he was nine, before moving to High Point, N.C.
He started playing soccer at age four after watching his dad kick the ball around the backyard. In addition to English, he speaks a bit of Kirundi, the main language of Burundi, which his parents also speak at home.
When he’s not on the pitch, Nimfa enjoys hanging out with his friends and brothers and playing video games. Favorites include EA FC, NBA2K, UFC and Mortal Kombat. Berchimas usually opts for Chelsea or Napoli in EA FC, while he’s a Kung Lao main in Mortal Kombat.
YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM PATHWAY
Berchimas earned his first YNT call-up in January 2022, playing up a year at a domestic training camp with the Under-15s in Chula Vista, Calif. He saw his first international action a few months later with the U-15s at the famed Torneo delle Nazioni, held across Austria, Italy and Slovenia. Berchimas played in all four U.S. games, including a 3-2 win vs. Belgium in the tournament opener.
He also represented the U.S. as part of the U-16 MYNT at November 2022’s Football Federations Cup U-16 in Albir, Spain, scoring his first U.S. goal in a 2-2 draw vs. Spain. Earlier this year, Berchimas was part of the U-16 squad at the 2023 International Dream Cup in Fukushima, Japan. He added an assist on U-17 World Cup teammate Santiago Morales’ opening goal vs. host Japan in a 2-1 win on May 31.
Before the World Cup, the Japan trip was Berchimas’ favorite experience with the Youth National Teams. He broke out his signature back flip at a pre-tournament dinner and after a misfire on the first attempt, landed the trick on the second try to thunderous applause.
CHARLOTTE FC HOMEGROWN
After a few seasons with U.S. Soccer Development Academy club NC Fusion, Berchimas joined the Charlotte FC academy when it launched in 2020.
The following season is when things started to get more serious on the pitch and the forward started working towards the Major League Soccer Homegrown pathway. Berchimas signed as Charlotte’s second Homegrown from its academy in November 2022, becoming the sixth-youngest player to sign an MLS contract.
This past MLS Next Pro season, Berchimas made his professional debut with Crown Legacy FC in its season opener on March 26. He made eight appearances on the year and netted his first pro goal on Sept. 17 in a 1-0 win vs. New England Revolution II. Instead of the back flip, he opted for a Dragonball Z-esque celebration.
MEMORABLE U-17 DEBUT
Used to playing up age groups for club and country, Berchimas made quite an impression in his first U-17 MYNT call-up this September at the Jezek Cup in the Czech Republic. Named to the U.S. roster for one of its final pre-World Cup training camps, he entered in the 76th minute with the USA down 2-1 to Ukraine. The 15-year-old scored in the 88th, then added another in stoppage time to secure a tournament-opening win.
Berchimas made two more appearances for the U-17s at the Jezek Cup, adding an assist vs. Switzerland in the second match, and was also a part of the team’s final pre-World Cup training camp in Brazil last month.
MAKING WAVES AT THE U-17 WC
Two weeks after the Brazil trip, Berchimas received a text that he’d be a part of the U.S. squad in Indonesia and immediately told his mom. Now, he’s one of the tournament’s leading scorers as its fifth-youngest player.
The youngest American at the U-17 World Cup in 20 years, Berchimas made a statement in the tournament opener as he led the U.S. to a 3-1 victory vs. Korea Republic. He tallied on an impressive finish in the seventh, set up midfielder Cruz Medina’s goal in the 49th and bagged his brace in the 73rd.
At 15 years, 267 days, his efforts saw him become the fourth-youngest player to score for the U.S. at the U-17 World Cup. With two goals, he became just the fifth player to put together a multi-goal game at the tournament and the second-youngest to accomplish the feat.
Berchimas added another goal in the USA’s second match vs. Burkina Faso, netting the second goal of the afternoon in the sixth minute of first-half stoppage time. The young winger became the 17th player to score in multiple games for the U.S. at the U-17 World Cup and moved him into a tie for third on the all-time American scoring charts at the tournament.