Will we see the next Pulisic? Meet the U.S. boys aiming for the U-17 World Cup

By Mike Woitalla

Will the Concacaf U-17 Championship reveal the next Christian Pulisic?

Pulisic played for the U.S. U-17s at the 2015 regional championship, which serves as qualifying play for the U-17 World Cup, 10 months before making his Bundesliga debut. Also on that U.S. U-17 team, were Tyler Adams, Josh Perez and Luca de la Torre, who played for the U.S. U-20s in their 2017 Concacaf U-20 Championship title win and who have made first-team debuts for the New York Red Bulls, Fiorentina and Fulham, respectively.

This year’s U-17s, coached by John Hackworth, compete in the 2017 Concacaf U-17 Championship April 21-May 7 in Panama that will determine the region's four qualifiers for the 2017 U-17 World Cup in India Oct. 6-28.

This games will be streamed live on the Concacaf Facebook page.

USA's Group C Schedule:
Sunday, April 23 vs. Jamaica (1:30 p.m. ET)
Wednesday, April 26 vs. Mexico (4:30 p.m. ET)
Saturday, April 29 vs. El Salvador (11:30 a.m. ET)

The USA must finish in the top two of Group C to advance to the second group phase, the “classification stage,” which will be comprised of two three-team groups. The top two finishers of each classification stage group will qualify for the World Cup. The second-round group winners will meet in the final.

The USA has failed only once, in 2013, to qualify for the biennial world championship since its inception in 1985.

Hackworth announced his 20-player roster on Monday.

• Four players signed MLS Homegrown contracts in 2016: Chris Durkin (D.C. United), Chris Goslin (Atlanta United), Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United) and Bryan Reynolds (FC Dallas).

• The squad includes two foreign-based players: Timothy Weah of Paris Saint-Germain and Carlos Joaquim Dos Santos of Portugal’s side Benfica.

• Georgia is the best represented state, with four players, followed by New York, Florida and Texas with two each.

• Players born in 2000 or later are eligible for the 2017 U-17 World Cup. The USA’s youngest players, born in 2001, are Taylor Booth, Indiana Vassilev and Reynolds.

U.S. U-17 boys national team
Player (birth year) club/hometown
Carlos Joaquim Dos Santos (2000) Benfica (POR)/Philadelphia
Born to a Cape Verdean father and Portuguese mother. Moved from Philadelphia, where he spent three seasons in the Philadelphia Union academy, before moving to Portuguese club Benfica's academy program.

Justin Garces (2000) Kendall SC/Miami, Fla.
Started all three games at December’s Nike International Friendlies at which the USA beat Turkey (5-1), Portugal (7-1) and Brazil (3-0).

Christopher Gloster (2000) New York Red Bulls/Montclair, N.J.
Outside back started all three games at Nike International Friendlies. Played one game for Red Bulls II in 2016 USL season.

Jaylin Lindsey (2000) Sporting Kansas City/Charlotte, N.C.
North Carolina product joined Sporting KC Academy in January 2015. Signed contract with Sporting Kansas City USL affiliate Swope Park Rangers last May and appeared in two USL games.

James Sands (2000) New York City FC/Rye, N.Y.
Became first NYCFC academy product to train with first team when he joined preseason training camp last January. Coach Patrick Vieira called him a “special talent.”

Arturo Vasquez (2000) FC Golden State/Mira Loma, Calif.
Only Californian in the squad started in central defense alongside Sands at Nike International Friendlies.

Akil Watts (2000) IMG Academy/Fort Wayne, Ind.
Played for Fort Wayne United, whose alum include DaMarcus Beasley, before joining IMG Academy.

George Acosta (2000) Weston FC/Hollywood, Fla.
Scored twice in 3-2 win over host France in the final of the 2016 International Montaigu Tournament, at which he also twice in a 4-0 win over Russia and twice in 2-2 tie with England. It was the USA’s first title win at Montaigu Tournament since 1992.

Taylor Booth (2001) Real Salt Lake AZ/Eden, Utah
Played for La Roca in Utah before moving to Real Salt Lake Arizona. Both parents, Chad and Kelli, were soccer stars at Weber High School in Pleasant View, Utah.

Christopher Durkin (2000) D.C. United/Glen Allen, Va.
Signed Homegrown contract with D.C. United on June 14, 2016, and debuted for first team the next day in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Appeared in three USL games for D.C. United affiliate Richmond Kickers in 2016 and started three games for the Kickers this season.

Blaine Ferri (2000) Solar Chelsea/Southlake, Texas
Started all three games at the Nike International Friendlies. Part of U-17 Residency Program since start of this cycle.

Christopher Goslin (2000) Atlanta United/Locust Grove, Ga.
Signed Homegrown contract with Atlanta United last October. Starred on U-16 Georgia United team, along with Andrew Carleton, that in the 2014-15 season was the only non-MLS club to reach the U.S. Soccer Development semifinals.

Indiana Vassilev (2001) IMG Academy/Savannah, Ga.
Georgia native is son of Bulgarian immigrants. Called up to U.S. U-14s in 2014 while with Savannah’s Storm Soccer Academy. Moved to IMG Academy in 2015. Joined U.S. U-17 Residency Program in 2016 fall semester after starring with U.S. U-16s.

Adrian Villegas (2000) Portland Timbers/Hood River, Ore.
Part of U.S. U-17 Residency Program since the start of this cycle, has played for U.S. U-14s, U-15s, and U-16s.

Ayomide Akinola (2000) Toronto FC/Brampton, Ontario
Born in Michigan and grew up in Ontario, Canada. Scored four goals when U.S. U-15s won the 2015 Torneo Delle Nazioni. Scored four goals and notched three assists in the three Nike International Friendlies wins. Made 10 appearances and scored twice for Toronto FC II in 2016 USL season.

Andrew Carleton (2000) Atlanta United/Powder Springs, Ga.
Signed Homegrown contract with Atlanta United last June. Became youngest player to play a USL game last September while on loan to Charleston Battery, for which he made three regular-season appearances and one playoff appearance. Scored four goals at Nike International Friendlies.

Zyen Jones (2000) Atlanta United/Clarkston, Ga.
Another star at Georgia United before its merger with Atlanta United, scored six goals for U-17s in 2016.

Bryan Reynolds (2001) FC Dallas/Little Elm, Texas
Became FC Dallas’ youngest Homegrown signing last November at age 15. Turns 16 in June. Part of FC Dallas' 2016 U-16 Development Academy national championship team. Father Keith Reynolds played college soccer at SMU.

Joshua Sargent (2000) Scott Gallagher Missouri/O’Fallen, Mo.
Captained U-17s at Nike International friendlies and scored four goals. Was starting point guard as freshman on St. Dominic high school basketball team before joining U-17 Residency Program. Trained with Dutch club PSV Eindhoven and Sporting Kansas City last year.

Timothy Weah (2000) Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)/Rosedale, N.Y.
Son of the former Liberian great George Weah, the 1995 World Player of the Year, who kept a home in New York during his playing career and met Timothy’s mother, Clar, when he was opening an account at a New York Chase bank where she worked. Timothy played for BW Gottschee before joining PSG youth program in 2014. Scored in wins over Brazil and Turkey in December’s Nike International Friendlies.

2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Groups:
Group A: *Panama, Honduras, Curacao, Haiti
Group B: *Costa Rica, Canada, Cuba, Suriname
Group C: *Mexico, El Salvador, Jamaica, USA
* Seeded

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