Future US Soccer Stars Primed To Shine At U-17 Concacaf Championship

The 2019 Concacaf Under-17 Championship kicks off in Bradenton, Florida, on Wednesday with four tickets to the U-17 World Cup in Brazil up for grabs. The new tournament format consists of 20 teams and each match at IMG Academy will be broadcast live on Concacaf’s Facebook page and the Univision Deportes Network. The final is set for May 16.

Four groups of four nations each square off in the group stage of the competition. The top three finishers in each group then advance to the Round of 16, where Nicaragua, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic will join the action, having qualified through round-robin play in a previous round involving the 19 lowest-ranked teams in the region.

After the group stage, the tourney switches to single elimination with quarterfinals on May 12 and semifinals May 14. The Stars and Stripes begin Group F play on Thursday against Canada at 6 PM ET, followed by a date with Barbados on Saturday at 4 PM ET and a final group stage tie with Guatemala on Monday at 6 PM ET.

Head coach Raphael Wicky, who only took over the position in March, called in a 20-player roster on April 22 that includes 10 players who have competed in professional games so far in 2019. There are plenty of familiar faces for those close to the U.S. youth setup, as every player included has been a part of at least one U-17 camp in the past year .

U.S. Players to Watch

Griffin Yow

The future looks bright for the young attacker and he’ll be eager to continue proving himself on the international stage. Yow signed a Homegrown contract with D.C. United in March and has been playing with their USL affiliate Loudoun United where he scored in his debut. He went on to record his first appearance for the Black-and-Red in a 2-0 loss to NYC FC less than a month later.

Gianluca Busio

Busio is one of several Homegrown Players making waves in the Western Conference. The 16-year-old made MLS history when he became the youngest player to score in three consecutive matches with goals against Montreal, Cincinnati, and New York. Sporting KC’s injury issues have forced head coach Peter Vermes to implement a number of roster changes, and Busio has been up to the task when called upon. He recently earned his fourth start in a wild 4-4 draw with the New England Revolution.

Goalkeeping competition

Chicago’s Damian Las has all the tools to become a star for club and country. The Illinois native recently competed in his third Generation Adidas Cup and has been the first choice keeper for the U-17 side. Meanwhile, 6-foot-6 Chituru Odunze has been impressing in the Whitecaps academy and kept four clean sheets in the GA Cup, including this highlight reel save.

Odunze previously spent time in the youth academies of three English sides: Chelsea, West Ham, and Cardiff City. Who Wicky elects to feature between the sticks will be a key story to follow at the tournament.

U.S. U-17 Roster

Goalkeepers (2): Damian Las (Chicago Fire), Chituru Odunze (Vancouver Whitecaps)

DEFENDERS (7): Axel Alejandre (FC United), Adam Armour (North Carolina FC), Mauricio Cuevas (LA Galaxy), Tayvon Gray (New York City FC), Kobe Hernandez (LA Galaxy), Joseph Scally (New York City FC), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls)

Midfielders (5): Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Gilbert Fuentes (San Jose Earthquakes), Bryang Kayo (D.C. United), Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders FC), Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy)

Forwards (6): Jack de Vries (Philadelphia Union), Tyler Freeman (Sporting Kansas City), Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Tacoma Defiance), Ricardo Pepi (North Texas SC), Giovanni Reyna (Unattached), Griffin Yow (D.C. United)  

Jimenez Supplants Chicharito & Could Be In For A Huge Year At Wolverhampton

"Raúl is our most important forward. I'm talking about Mexican football, not just this competition, but overall."

Soccer Positions, Ranked

Here are the 11 positions in soccer, ranked from best to worst. Note that this is a completely objective ranking that cannot be questioned in any way.

FC Cincinnati Set For A Pitch Upgrade With Planned West End Stadium

Promising a world-class fan experience, FC Cincinnati unveiled the final designs for its $250 million West End Stadium.

Lucas Rodriguez & Donovan Pines Exert Their Influence In D.C. United's Win

After a brutal nine-game stretch with just a single win, D.C. United hurled the monkey off their back, across the room, and into a pile of cardboard boxes. That had to have felt pretty darn good. 

Matthijs De Ligt Could Be More Crucial For Juventus Than Cristiano Ronaldo

A year after Portuguese megastar Cristiano Ronaldo ended Juventus’ Champions League run, 19-year-old Matthijs de Ligt did the same thing, his powerful header sending Ajax through at the expense of the Bianconeri.

D.C. United Overcome Second Half Penalty, Beat FC Cincinnati 4-1

D.C. United were quite unhappy about a second-half penalty awarded to hosts FC Cincinnati on Thursday night in the first-ever meeting between the two clubs. Emmanuel Ledesma converted the spot-kick in the 54th minute, canceling out Lucas Rodriguez's first-half goal. However, instead of being put off by the call, United responded in aggressive fashion, scoring three second-half goals to win 4-1 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. 

USMNT No. 1 Zack Steffen Heads To Fortuna Dusseldorf On Loan

Throughout the decades of ups and downs in U.S. Soccer, there has always been one thing that fans of the men’s national team have been able to count on: a good goalie between the sticks. Tim Howard, Kasey Keller, and Tony Meola each earned at least 100 caps since 1988, and a host of dependable reserve keepers since that year has kept the position completely solid. 

18 Players The USMNT Should & Shouldn't Play In The Concacaf Nations League

When my wife and I got to our car in the parking garage this morning, I realized with great sadness I had left my cell phone — which I use to stream audiobooks on my morning commute — up in the condo, and since we were already a couple minutes late I decided not to waste several minutes retrieving it. 

Bournemouth & Girona Are Paragons Of Small-Market Success In England, Spain

You’ve probably heard the tale at least once by now. 

D.C. United Face FC Cincinnati For The First Time In Need Of A Win

A week after facing off against an MLS original, D.C. United head to Ohio to take on the league's newest team, FC Cincinnati, in the first meeting between the two clubs. Last Friday, the Black-and-Red had to fight back for a 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution, giving them just one win in their past nine league games. Meanwhile, Cincinnati, still mired in last place in MLS in 2019, have reeled off two wins in a row.