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USA faces tough U-17 opponents
by Paul Kennedy, April 21st, 2009 7AM



[SCOUTING REPORT] Wilmer Cabrera's Americans open against Caribbean champion Cuba Tuesday at the Concacaf U-17 Championship in Tijuana, Mexico. Canada, loaded with players from the Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps youth systems, and Honduras, featuring 15-year-old phenom Anthony Lozano, also stand in the way of the USA's bid to keep intact its record of being only country to have qualified for every U-17 World Cup since FIFA initiated the tournament in 1985.

The top two teams from each group will qualify for the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, which will be held Oct. 24-Nov. 15 in Nigeria. The Concacaf semifinals will be played on April 29, with the final and third-place match played on May 2.

CUBA. Cuba went undefeated in qualifying for the Concacaf finals, going 5-0-1 in Caribbean action and outscoring the opposition, 29-3, and recently beat Mexico, 2-1, in a warmup game in Havana. Cuba's frontline is led by Luis Junior Portal and Yaudel Lahera.

Cuba has never beaten the USA in four meetings: 1988 (USA 1-0), 1991 (1-1 tie), 1992 (2-0) and 2005 (1-1 tie).

Cuba Roster:
Goalkeepers: Odisnel Cooper (Camaguey), Yeimi Guerra (Villa Clara).
Defenders: Liosvel Hernandez (Villa Clara), Daniel Cantero (Las Tunas), Yordan Exposito (Camaguey), Alejandro Marquez (Habana), Yandri Prieto (Pinar del Rio).
Midfielders: Humberto Puig (Granma), Yadien Ortiz (Matanzas), Ulises Sardinas (Matanzas), Raydel Fernandez (Camaguey), Over Urguelles (Guantanamo), Ricardo Pena (Habana), Osdany Soto (Villa Clara), Dayron Blanco (Las Tunas).
Forwards: Yaudel Lahera (Habana), Luis Portal (Habana), Osvaldo Lemus (Puerto del Rio).

CANADA. Canada, which has not qualified for the world under-17 championship since 1995, has been training in Carlsbad, Calif., to prepare for the Concacaf U-17 finals.

Key players are defender Derrick Bassi (Middlesbrough, England), midfielder Jaineil Hoilett (St.. Pauli, Germany) and forward Abdoulaye Sylla (Metz, France).

The Canadian captain is midfielder Russell Teibert, who hails from Niagara Falls, Ont., but plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps' youth program.

Canada Roster:
Garrett Cyprus (Toronto FC Academy), Richard Causton (Vancouver Whitecaps Residency).
Defenders: Francesco Augustin (Toronto FC Academy), Derrick Bassi (Middlesbrough, England), Hugo Lapointe-Sénecal (Royal Select Beauport), Amine Meftouh (Attak de Trois-Rivieres), Karl Ouimette  (Attak de Trois-Rivieres), Feras Samain (Toronto FC Academy).
Midfielders: Felix Cardin (Attak de Trois-Rivieres), Kevin Cobby (Vancouver Whitecaps Residency), Jaineil Hoilett (St. Pauli, Germany), Jonathan Lao (Toronto FC Academy), Ezequiel Lubocki (Lucania SC), Brennan McNicoll  (Toronto FC Academy), Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps Residency).
Forwards: Coulton Jackson (Vancouver Whitecaps), Abdoulaye Sylla (Metz, France), Caolan Lavery (Red Deer Renegades), Justin Maheu (Toronto FC), Jordan Ongaro (Edmonton Scottish).

HONDURAS. Honduras, which won its three-team qualifying group in Central America without allowing a goal, is the only country to have played in every Concacaf U-17 championship -- the USA was exempt from the 1985 finals -- but reached the U-17 World Cup for the first time in 2007.

Lozano, who goes by the nickname "Choco," has already qualified for one world championship this year, helping Honduras reach the U-20 World Cup finals. He made his first-team debut for First Division power Olimpia in January.

The Catrachos' other star is Diego Rodriguez, who spent a year in Spanish club Real Madrid's youth system.

Honduras Roster:
Goalkeepers: Harold Fonseca (Motagua), Jesus Rivera (Motagua).
Defenders: Allan Rivas (Olimpia), Allan Gutierrez (Motagua), Ever Alvarado (Atletico Junior), Samir Martinez (Gimnastico), Johny Rivera (Real Espana), Nixon Duarte (Real Espana).
Midfielders: Alex Lopez (Olimpia), Nestor Martinez (Olimpia), Jair Aragon (Real Juventud), Rodolfo Espinal (Sauce), Wilmer Fuentes (Marathon), Roberto Lopez (Motagua), Danilo Tobillas (Real Espana).
Forwards: Anthony Lozano (Olimpia), Jose Sanchez (Victoria), Diego Rodriguez (Real Espana), Hector Matute (Gualala).

Group A Schedule:
April 21-- Cuba, Estadio Caliente; Tijuana, Mexico, 4 p.m. / 7 p.m.
April 23 -- Canada, Estadio Caliente; Tijuana, Mexico, 4 p.m. / 7 p.m.
April 25 -- Honduras, Estadio Caliente; Tijuana, Mexico, 4 p.m. / 7 p.m.


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