After leading the Under-17 U.S. Men’s National Team to the Quarterfinals of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, John Hackworth now takes over a new U-17 player pool that will work towards qualifying for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup, a journey that begins at the 2017 Nike International Friendlies. With a complete coaching resume that includes stops at the youth, collegiate and professional ranks, Hackworth has continued to pave the way in player development.
Here are five things you should know about the U-17 MNT head coach:
THE SOCCER PLAYER
After graduating from Dunedin High School (Dunedin, Fla.), Hackworth played two seasons at Brevard College (Brevard, N.C.) in 1989 and 1990 before transferring to Wake Forest. In his three seasons at Wake Forest, where his primary position was right back, Hackworth earned Academic All-ACC honors.
After college, Hackworth began his professional career with the lower league Carolina Crunch. Following two seasons with the Crunch, Hackworth was signed by the Carolina Dynamo of the A-League after he was spotted playing against the Dynamo, locking down future Trinidad & Tobago and English Premier League striker Stern John. Though he made good memories, Hackworth recalls his one season with the Dynamo as, “Having a cup of coffee in the A-League,” and hung up his cleats shortly after his run in the A-League.
PLAYER TURNED COACH
Always having had a view towards coaching, Hackworth began working on his craft while still in his playing days at Wake Forest when he served as a youth coach at Twin City Youth Soccer (now NC Fusion). During his playing days with the Carolina Crunch, Hackworth also simultaneously worked as an assistant for the Wake Forest University Women’s Soccer team. One year later in 1993, Hackworth became an assistant with the school’s Men’s Soccer Team, a position he held until 1997. In his four seasons under one of his key mentors Jay Vidovich, the tandem helped lay the foundation for a program that would later go on to win a national title (2007).
In 1998 Hackworth took the head coaching job at the University of South Florida, where the 28-year-old became the youngest head coach in NCAA Division 1 Soccer at the time. In his four seasons at the USF helm, Hackworth led the Bulls to two Conference USA Championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances.
Hackworth also continued to hone his role in player development, going through the State and Regional Olympic Development Program (ODP) coaching ranks in North Carolina and Florida from the time he became the assistant Women’s Coach at Wake Forest.
THE RED WHITE AND BLUE CALLING
After success at USF and his experiences at the ODP levels, Hackworth left to take on his first coaching opportunity with U.S. Soccer as an assistant to John Ellinger with the U-17 Men’s National Team leading up to the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Coaching a roster of players led by Freddy Adu and Jonathan Spector, the U.S. used wins against Korea Republic (6-1) and Sierra Leone (2-1) to advance to the Quarterfinals where they fell to eventual champions Brazil.
In 2004, Hackworth moved into the head coaching role when Ellinger departed the U-17 MNT to become the first head coach of expansion M.L.S. side Real Salt Lake.
Hackworth led the U-17 MNT back to the Knockout Round of the next two World Cups. At the 2005 competition in Peru, a side featuring Jozy Altidore and Omar Gonzalez helped the USA defeat Korea DPR (3-2) and Italy (3-1) before a 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals to finish fifth in the world. In 2007, a U.S. team with Brek Shea and Greg Garza downed Belgium 2-0 in its final Group Stage game before a narrow 2-1 defeat to third-place finisher Germany in the Round of 16.
Upon the conclusion of the 2007 U-17 World Cup, Hackworth became an assistant coach with the Men’s National Team, assisting Bob Bradley in qualifying the USA for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Starting the Development Academy
Concurrent to his role under Bradley, in 2007 Hackworth was also charged with starting the U.S. Soccer Development Academy where he served as the inaugural Technical Director.
Working closely alongside several key U.S. Soccer management officials, Hackworth collaborated in bringing to fruition the philosophies that continue to drive the Academy: more training, less games, more meaningful games, international standards and a holistic environment centered around individual player development. One of the key notions behind the Academy was to create everyday club environments that were similar to the U.S. Soccer Residency Program, where the daily, consistent focus was on development, something Hackworth nurtured first hand with the U-17 Residency Program.
Having just celebrated its 10th anniversary, the Development Academy is the highest level of youth soccer in the United States. Working to create elite, everyday environments to maximize youth player development in the country, the DA is responsible for helping develop current U.S. internationals Christian Pulisic, Kellyn Acosta, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Matt Miazga, among many others.
MLS Experience and Return to U.S. Soccer
In November 2009, Hackworth took on his first challenge in the professional ranks, becoming the first assistant and Youth Development Coordinator for Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union. In 2012, Hackworth was quickly tagged as head coach after a promising record in an interim role. Though he departed the club during the 2014 season, his legacy there can still be felt in the Academy ranks, where he laid the early seeds for the club’s burgeoning youth system.
In 2014, Hackworth rejoined U.S. Soccer as head coach of the U-15 Boys’ National Team, as well as serving as Andi Herzog’s assistant with the U-23 MNT. Things came full circle for the veteran coach at the end of 2015, when he continued on with the 2000 birth year to return as head coach of the U-17 MNT, tasked with leading the USA back to the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
Nearly two years later, Hackworth and his team fulfilled their mission in making their way to the U-17 World Cup. A high-flying attack which featured Josh Sargent, Timothy Weah and Andrew Carleton earned Group Stage wins against host India (3-0) and Ghana (1-0), before an emphatic 5-0 victory against Paraguay in the Round of 16. The victory was the USA’s first Knockout Round since the tournament expanded to 24 teams, but was also sixth overall for Hackworth as a head coach, tying him with Roy Rees (1987, 1989, 1991, 1993) for most wins by a U.S. coach at the U-17 World Cup. Though the side’s magical run ended with a defeat to eventual champs England in the Quarterfinals, Hackworth’s team once again showed well.
Equally as impressive, Hackworth’s U-17 World Cup Qualifying record continues to be a standard in the CONCACAF region. Overall, Hackworth-led teams have posted an 11-2-1 mark in qualifying after successful campaigns in 2005 (2-1-0), 2007 (4-1-0) and 2017 (5-0-1).
Beginning with the 2017 Nike international Friendlies, Hackworth now leads a new crop of players towards qualification for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Since 2002, Hackworth has been a U.S. Soccer coaching education instructor for the A, B and C licenses. Most recently in December 2016, Hackworth was part of the first graduation class of the highest form of soccer licensing offered in North America, the U.S. Soccer Pro License course.
Some of Hackworth’s fondest U-17 MNT memories come from summer trips to Lake Burton, where he would bring his group to Rabun County, Ga. to explore the body of water near the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
Circa 2005: U-17 Men’s National Team at Lake Burton
July 2017: U-17 Men’s National Team at Lake BurtonRead more
CONCACAF is a grind at any age. Every continental competition for the USA promises matchups against arch-rival Mexico, soccer-crazed Central American nations and constantly-improving Caribbean countries.
For the first time this year, the USA faced off against the confederation’s best when the U-15 Boys’ National Team took second place at August’s CONCACAF U-15 Championship in Bradenton, Fla.
Coming off that experience, the rising age group will tackle their first matches at the U-17 level, coming at the 2017 Men's Nike International Friendlies. As they take on England, Netherlands and Brazil this week, it’s clear that the continental championship provided valuable experience for the age group.
“It was good to see the competition these boys will be facing for the next 20 years of their career,” said U-15 BNT head coach Dave van den Bergh. “It’s important for us to see the way our opponents in CONCACAF play and the way they go about facing us when we’re the favorites.”
The U-15 BNT is the first competitive team for players in the Youth National Team pathway and the initial level at which players are exposed to major international tournaments. Over the last two-year cycle, the U-15s competed in two events: last spring’s Torneo delle Nazioni in Italy, taking on the likes of England, Portugal, and Russia, and August’s regional championship, facing seven other top teams from the confederation.
While elite players are called to the U-14 Boys’ National Team, it’s considered a national development program. The U-14s compete in international friendlies, but it’s at the U-15 level that the real international programming begins.
“The World Cup for the U-17s is only two years from now,” said Van den Bergh, who is also serving as an assistant with the U-17 MNT during the Nike International Friendlies. “It’s very important to prep these guys, get them used to that kind of competition, and what a knockout competition is like. It’s very beneficial for U-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth that these guys have already gone through that.”
After taking home the Torneo delle Nazioni title, the U-15s turned their attention to CONCACAF. While the first edition of the U-15 Championship, in 2013, featured just 22 teams of smaller Central American and Caribbean federations, the 2017 iteration was the largest CONCACAF tournament at U-15 level, featuring 39 nations and over 700 youth players. Teams were sorted into three divisions based on qualification for the event and previous U-17 Championship results.
“CONCACAF is one of the biggest tournaments the U.S. plays in,” rising U-17 MNT midfielder Gianluca Busio said. “It’s good to go against opponents early and see how they play. You’re going to play them over and over for years. It’s great to get to know them, play with them and compete at a young age.”
Playing at a familiar training ground, IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., the USA was drawn into Group B alongside Canada (2-0), Costa Rica (4-1) and Trinidad & Tobago (6-0). The Americans cruised through the group stage, topping the quartet with an impressive plus-11 goal differential and trailing for only 12 minutes in the three games. Busio, a MLS Homegrown signing for Sporting Kansas City, starred in group play, scoring two braces in the first two games.
“In that tournament, he found the back of the net with so much ease,” Van den Bergh said. “He was very important to us. He’s extremely versatile, he’s on the rise. Hopefully he can keep grinding, keep working hard and know this is the beginning, not the end of his road.”
In the Semifinals, the USA took the lead against Panama in the sixth minute and never looked back, winning 3-0 to advance to the Final. There, the USA fell 2-0 to Mexico on a pair of late goals. It promises to be just the first of many showdowns for the age group against El Tri. The North American foes faced off at every CONCACAF youth championship this earlier year.
“It left them hungry because we didn’t win it,” Van den Bergh said. “It was a huge disappointment. We need to make sure we channel that the right way, make sure to learn from the experience.”
Now, the U-15 age group is transitioning to the U-17 level at this week’s Nike International Friendlies. They will spend the next two years competing and training in preparation for the 2019 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, where four teams will punch their tickets to the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup. With one journey through the CONCACAF gauntlet under their belts, this iteration of U-17s should be more prepared for the rigors ahead, starting with this week’s showdowns against world powers England, Netherlands and Brazil.
“It prepped them well for the Nike International Friendlies because it’s good international competition,” Van den Bergh said. “It’s very important for them, once they have to qualify for the World Cup (in 2019) it’s not the first time that they see that.”Read more
CHICAGO (Nov. 28, 2017) - U.S. U-17 Men's National Team head coach John Hackworth has named a final 20-player roster for the 2017 Nike International Friendlies, which run from Nov. 29-Dec. 3 at Premier Sports Complex in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
After a preparatory training camp, Hackworth narrowed his preliminary squad down from 24 players, releasing D.C. United goalkeeper Khamari Culcleasure, Sporting Kansas City defender Mitchell Eise, Shattuck-Saint Mary's goalkeeper JT Harms and Atlanta United FC forward Daniel Mangarov, who will now feature for their respective clubs during the 2017 U.S. Soccer Boys' Development Academy Winter Showcase, which runs concurrently from Nov. 30-Dec. 4 at Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
U.S. U-17 MNT 2017 Nike International Friendlies Roster by Position:
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; Greenboro, 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.)