CHICAGO (Sept. 21, 2017) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach John Hackworth has named a 21-player roster for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India, which runs from Oct. 6-28. Real Salt Lake Academy MF Taylor Booth – a native of Eden, Utah – is among the squad as the U.S. departs Sept. 24 for training in Dubai, where the remaining players will join the camp prior to arrival in India.
“This cycle of players is unique in terms of the quality, depth and work ethic of the group,” Hackworth said. “The biggest challenge in selecting this roster was the competition for spots at almost every position. Our team is looking forward to this opportunity to compete for the U-17 World Cup and are motivated to prove themselves on the world stage.”
The USA was drawn into Group A with Colombia, Ghana and India. The team opens group play vs. India on Oct. 6 (8:30 a.m. MT), followed by matches against Ghana on Oct. 9 (5:30 a.m. MT) and Colombia on Oct. 12 (8:30 a.m. MT). The first two games will be played at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, while the final group game will be played at Dr. DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. All of the U.S.’s group matches will be broadcast live on FS2 and UNIVERSO.
The World Cup will be played in six cities across India: Kochi, Goa, Navi Mumbai, New Delhi, Guwahati, and Kolkata. A total of 24 countries participate in the tournament with the top two teams from each of the six groups, as well as the four best third-place teams, advance to the Round of 16 on October 16, 17, and 18. The championship and third-place matches take place Saturday, Oct. 28, at the 66,600-capacity Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata.
U.S. 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Alex Budnik (Sockers FC; Arlington Heights, Ill.), Carlos Joaquim Dos Santos (S.L. Benfica; Philadelphia, Penn.), Justin Garces (Atlanta United FC; Miami, Fla.)
DEFENDERS (6): Sergiño Dest (Ajax; Almere-stad, Netherlands), Christopher Gloster (New York Red Bulls; Montclair, N.J.), Jaylin Lindsey (Sporting Kansas City; Charlotte, N.C.), James Sands (New York City FC; Rye, N.Y.), Tyler Shaver (New York City FC; Greenwich, Conn.), Akil Watts (Portland Timbers, Fort Wayne, Ind.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): George Acosta (North Carolina FC; Hollywood, Fla.), Taylor Booth (Real Salt Lake; Eden, Utah), Christopher Durkin (D.C. United; Glen Allen, Va.), Blaine Ferri (Solar Soccer Club; Southlake, Texas), Chris Goslin (Atlanta United FC; Locust Grove, Ga.), Indiana Vassilev (Unattached; Savannah, Ga.)
FORWARDS (6): Ayo Akinola (Toronto FC; Brampton Ont.), Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United FC; Powder Springs, Ga.), Jacobo Reyes (C.F. Monterrey; Houston, Texas), Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas; Little Elm, Texas), Joshua Sargent (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; O'Fallon, Mo.), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Rosedale, N.Y.)
The U-17 MNT began its qualifying run at the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship with five-straight wins. After opening the tournament with a 5-0 win against Jamaica, the team went on to defeat Mexico (4-3) and El Salvador (1-0) to earn first place in Group C and advancement to the Classification Stage. The result against Mexico was particularly historic as it marked the first time the USA defeated Mexico in World Cup Qualifying at the U-17 level and also ended a 25-match unbeaten streak in CONCACAF U-17 Championship play for El Tri.
In the Classification Stage, the USA remained undefeated, shutting out Honduras (3-0) before clinching its ticket to India, and a spot in the tournament final, with a 6-2 victory against Cuba.
In the final, a rematch against Mexico, the USA held a 1-0 advantage into stoppage time before seeing the game forced into penalty kicks on a 92nd-minute equalizer. Despite the USA converting four of its five attempts in the shootout, Mexico converted on all five to take home the regional title. Following the match, Golden Glove honoree Justin Garces, Jaylin Lindsey, James Sands, Chris Durkin, and Josh Sargent earned selections to the tournament’s Best XI. Sargent’s five goals and Akinola’s four placed the pair in third and fourth, respectively, in the Golden Boot standings. Seventeen players that were part of the U-17 MNT’s qualifying run are part of the final World Cup roster.
After the qualifying tournament ended, the U-17 player pool gathered together six times for four domestic camps across Atlanta, Portland, Ore. and Bradenton, Fla., one international camp in Argentina and one international tournament in Prague, Czech Republic. Hackworth used the camps to offer player development opportunities and continue World Cup preparations while evaluating new players, including World Cup selections Alex Budnik, Sergiño Dest, Jacobo Reyes and Tyler Shaver.
The USA’s best FIFA U-17 World Cup finish came as a squad featuring Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Oguchi Onyewu and Bobby Convey placed fourth at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. The tournament run included wins against Uruguay and Mexico before the USA nearly reached the final, falling in a penalty kick shootout to Australia in the semifinal.
In its last FIFA U-17 World Cup appearance in 2015, the USA was drawn into Group A where it finished 0-2-1 in group play behind eventual tournament champions Nigeria, Croatia and host Chile. The 2015 roster included now regular professionals Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Luca de la Torre (Fulham), Auston Trusty (Philadelphia Union), Brandon Vasquez (Atlanta United) and Haji Wright (SV Sandhausen).
This year marks the 12th out of 13 possible occasions that the U.S. U-17 MNT will compete in a FIFA World Youth Championship or World Cup at this age group, having missed only the 2013 tournament in the United Arab Emirates. Including the team’s run in 1999, the USA has made it out of the group stage eight times and reached the Quarterfinals five times (1991, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2005).
The FIFA U-17 World Cup showcases some of the world’s best young talent that can eventually impace country’s senior national teams. In its opening game at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the starting lineup for the full U.S. MNT featured five players who had previously played in a U-17 World Cup: Jozy Altidore (2005), DaMarcus Beasley (1999), Kyle Beckerman (1999) and Tim Howard (1995).