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
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.
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.
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)