U.S. under-17 national team coach John Ellinger named his 18-player roster for Under-17 World Cup qualifying March 5-9 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
The roster includes Freddy Adu, who is, at 13, the youngest player ever to represent the United States in a FIFA competition. It also includes two players who have signed with MLS -- Guillermo Gonzalez (Los Angeles) and Eddie Gaven (MetroStars). Gonzalez (26 goals), Adu (24) and Gaven (17), along with Corey Ashe (14) have combined to score 81 goals in the past 14 months.
Defender Jonathan Spector is about to sign with famed English club Manchester United. French-raised goalie Quentin Westberg is in the youth program at Troyes after attending the French federation's equivalent of the U.S. residency program. Westberg is the only player who has not been a part of the U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla.
The U-17s, who have posted a 46-18-12 record since January 2002, will depart for Guatemala on March 2, after spending four days training in Sunrise, Fla. The United States is the only country to qualify for every Under-17 World Championship. The U-17s open qualifying on March 5 against Jamaica, before facing El Salvador on March 7 and host Guatemala on March 9. The top team from CONCACAF's Group A will advance to the 2003 Under-17 World Championship in Finland; the second-place team will advance to a home-and-home play-off against the second-place team from CONCACAF Group B, which includes Mexico, Canada, Cuba and Costa Rica and will be held in Canada March 26-30.
Of the eight players in residency for their fourth semester, only Tomiwa Ogunsola wasn't picked to go to Guatemala. Reflecting the competition for spots on the U-17 team, only 11 of the 20 players who were in residency a year ago made the roster for Guatemala: Phil Marfuggi, Kyle Helton, Brandon Owens, John DiRaimondo, Brian Grazier, Jonathan Spector, Michael Harrington, Gaven, Gonzalez, Ashe and Adu.
Six players joined the residency program last September when it was expanded to 30 players: Adrian Chevannes, Chris Germani, Julian Valentin, Steven Curfman, Daniel Szetela and Jamie Watson. Szetela and Valentin were among a group of players born in 1987, a year younger than the U-17 age group, brought in as part of the effort to give younger players a look. That group of seven players includes Michael Bradley, son of MetroStars head coach Bob Bradley.
Under-17 National Team Roster (CONCACAF Qualifying)
Goalkeepers -- Phil Marfuggi (PDA Utd., N.J.), Quentin Westberg (Troyes, France). Defenders -- Adrian Chevannes (Club Dallas), Chris Germani (FC Delco, Pa.), Kyle Helton (Atlanta Fire), Brandon Owens (La Jolla, Calif., Nomads), Jonathan Spector (Chicago Sockers), Julian Valentin (Leeds Utd., Pa.). Midfielders -- Corey Ashe (Beach FC Impact, Va.), Steven Curfman (CASL Elite, N.C.), John DiRaimondo (Busch SC, Mo.), Eddie Gaven (MetroStars), Guillermo Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy), Brian Grazier (Metro SC, Ill.), Michael Harrington (CASL Elite, N.C.), Daniel Szetela (World Class Olympic, N.J.). Forwards -- Freddy Adu (Bethesda, Md., International), Jamie Watson (Dallas Comets).