PREVIEW: U.S. U-17 SET TO TAKE ON CUBA
ANDREW MINTZ - Friday, February 27, 2015
The United States U-17 team opens its CONCACAF U-17 Championship campaign on Friday against Cuba. The tournament taking place in Honduras will send four teams to October's World Cup in Chile.
The U-17 Americans are one of the favorites to advance to the World Cup, but Cuba, Guatemala, host side Honduras, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago A stand in the team's way in Group A. Group B consists of Canada, Costa Rica, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, and Saint Lucia.
The winners of each group automatically advance to Chile, with the second and third place teams progressing to a playoff round, with the eventual playoff winners qualifying for the World Cup.
U-17 Men's National Team head coach Richie Williams named his 20-player roster this past Tuesday. Headlining the squad is forward Haji Wright, the U-17 leading goal scorer last year with 18 goals in 22 matches, and Borussia Dortmund's youth midfielder Christian Pulisic.
The U-17s have recently enjoyed a string of successful international competitions, highlighted by a runner-up finish in the 2014 Nike Friendlies. The Americans went an impressive 17-7-4 in 2014.
The young Americans prepared for the CONCACAF Championship with two double-header friendlies, first splitting two matches against Panama (2-0, 0-2), and then winning its pair against Burmuda (5-2, 4-0).
A first place finish in Group A would see the Americans through to the World Cup for the 15th time. The Americans have qualified for the U-17 World Cup in 14 of 15 tries, more than any other CONCACAF opponent.
The USA faces Cuba at 6pm EST on Friday (February 27), then will match up verse Trinidad & Tobago (March 2), followed by Guatemala (March 5), Honduras (March 8) and Jamaica (March 11).