American Tim Hankinson
, who coached in MLS for seven seasons, has been the head coach of the Guatemalan U-17 national team since March. In mid-September, Hankinson brings his squad to
Bradenton, Fla., to face the U.S. U-17s following Guatemala's tour of Mexico.
''This preparation is the biggest commitment the Guatemalan federation has made to any of its
teams,'' says Hankinson, who coached Tampa Bay in 1998-2000 and the Colorado Rapids in 2001-04.
Hankinson, who has also been assisting Colombian Hernan Dario Gomez
Guatemala's full national team, is hoping to qualify Guatemala for a youth world championship for the first time in the nation's history. The 2007 U-17 World Cup takes place in South Korea
Aug. 18-Sept. 9. Guatemala, like the USA, is vying for one of the four CONCACAF spots at the 24-team tournament. (Mexico gets region's the fifth spot as defending champ.)
Guatemalans must compete in a preliminary qualifying tournament Oct. 14-22 with Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua and El Salvador.