U.S. U-17 newcomer Vasquez scores hat trick

Coach Richie Williams' U.S. U-17 men’s national team wrapped up preparations for U-17 World Cup qualifying, which begins on Friday, with two wins over Bermuda. Southern Californian Brandon Vasquez, who had been with Mexico's U-17s, scored a hat trick in Sunday’s 4-0 win in Bradenton, Fla.

Vasquez, at Club Tijuana since 2012, had played for Mexico’s U-15s and was called into Mexico’s U-17 camp earlier this year. He scored his hat trick within 11 minutes and also assisted on Lucas del Rosario’s goal.

On Friday, the U-17s beat Bermuda, 5-2, thanks to one goal each by Christian Pulisic, Joe Gallardo, Josh Perez, who also assisted twice, and a pair by Haji Wright.

Vasquez choosing to play for the USA is part of a tug-of-war between U.S. Soccer and Mexico for Mexican-American talent. Northern California product Edwin Lara was youngest player starting on the U.S. U-17s until his switch to Mexico last year. Abraham Romero, who spent a semester in U.S. U-17 residency before returning to the LA Galaxy academy program, is one of three goalkeepers in the Mexico’s U-17 camp. Ivan Gutierrez, a Development Academy Western Conference all-star with Chivas USA, has also been a regular on Mexico's U-17s.

The 2015 Concacaf U-17 Championship that will determine qualifiers for the 2015 U-17 World Cup takes place Feb. 27-March 15 in Honduras.

The USA, whose record streak of qualifying for 15 straight U-17 World Cups ended in 2013, was drawn into Group A with Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala, Honduras and Jamaica.

First-place team in each six-team groups clinch a spot at the World Cup. The second- and third-place teams will be reseeded based on group-stage results for playoffs to determine the third and fourth qualifiers.

Williams is due to announce his roster for the qualifying tournament on Tuesday.

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