(Thursday, August 2, 2007) -- United States under-17 coach John Hackworth named the 21-player roster today for the men's Under-17 World Cup to be competed August 18 through September 9 at eight venues in South Korea.
Hackworth mostly chose his team from the 40 players at the U.S. Soccer Federation's Under-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. Only defender Tommy Meyer and striker Daniel Cruz were chosen to the squad while not being a part of full-time residency.
All of the players on the roster were born on or after January 1, 1990, with five players from the younger 1991 age group -- forwards Bryan Dominguez and Abdusalam Ibrahim, midfielder Gregory Garza, goalkeeper Zac MacMath and defender Kofi Sarkodie.
"We felt all along that the talented pool of players in this age group is very deep, making our decisions extremely difficult," Hackworth saod. "However, we feel that we selected players that have proven that they are dedicated to our team's success at the World Cup."
The U.S. is the only nation to qualify for all 11 previous under-17 world championships. The best American finish came with fourth place in New Zealand in 1999 with a team that featured Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu, Bobby Convey and Kyle Beckerman.
The Americans were drawn into Group E, along with Tajikistan, Tunisia and Belgium, in the six-group, 24-team field.
One team is seeded in each group and the U.S. is the rated side in Group E. The Americans open with two matches in Changwon, facing Tajikistan August 20 at 7 a.m (ET) and Tunisia August 23 at 4 a.m. Belgium is the final group opponent in a 3.a.m. game in Cheonan.
All 52 matches of the tournament will be broadcast by ESPNU with all U.S. matches shown live, with a later rebroadcast at a more convenient time for the fans at home. The U.S. match against Tunisia will also be aired on ESPN2.
The American roster includes 16 players who were a part of the team that won Group A at the CONCACAF Under-17 Final Round Qualifying Tournament in Kingston, Jamaica, earlier this year. The U.S. scored nine goals in four games during qualifying, including an opening 3-0 shutout of Trinidad & Tobago. The team then topped Canada, 2-1, before falling to Jamaica 3-2. A 2-1 triumph over Costa Rica in the finale sealed first place.
Striker Ellis McLoughlin leads the team in scoring during the past two years, including the game-winning goal against Costa Rica in qualifying. Joining him up front are Ibrahim, who was drafted by FC Dallas in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, Dominguez and Billy Schuler, who tallied a goal and two assists in qualifying. Cruz, a relative newcomer Cruz has impressed in his limited time with the U-17s.
MacMath and Josh Lambo are considered two of the top keepers in the world and split time in goal in the qualifying tournament
Sheanon Williams and Mykell Bates were solid while starting all four qualifying games. Meyer and Brandon Zimmerman while Chris Klute and Sarkodie did not participate in qualifying, earning their spots in training and with their performances in a recent 3-1 friendly victory over Germany.
Jared Jeffrey, Dane Shea and Garza lead a squad of seven midfielders. Jeffrey and Shea started all four games in qualifying, while Garza started three and scored a goal. In the center of the field, Jeffrey and Daniel Wenzel have been Hackworth's starters, with both among those with the most appearances for Hackworth over the past two years.
Right midfielder Alex Nimo, who joined residency in the spring, quickly gained attention by scoring three goals in the four qualifying games. Kirk Urso and Brendan King are a pair of well-rounded, experienced performers from Ilinois.
The team is currently training in Clemson, S.C. A friendly against Costa Rica is planned for Tuesday in Atlanta on the campus of Kennesaw State University. The following day, the team will head home to Bradenton for three days before returning to Atlanta August 11 for two days of training and then departure to for South Korea.
The field for this tournament has been expanded to 24 from 16. A sampling of international stars who started in this event are Luis Figo, Alessandro Del Piero, Juan Veron, Francesco Totti and Ronaldinho.
The U.S. Group E schedule at the Under-17 World Cup (all times Eastern):
August 20 -- Tajikistan in Changwon, 6:45 a.m., ESPNU
August 23 -- Tunisia in Changwon, 3:45 a.m., ESPNU, ESPN2
August 26 -- Belguim in Cheonan, 2:45 a.m., ESPNU
U.S. roster for Under-17 World Cup:
Goalkeepers (3): Larry Jackson (East Palo Alto, Calif.), Josh Lambo (Middleton, Wisc.), Zac MacMath (St. Petersburg, Fla.).
Defenders (6): Mykell Bates (Roseville, Calif.), Chris Klute (Grand Prairie, Texas), Tommy Meyer (St. Louis), Kofi Sarkodie (Huber Heights, Ohio), Sheanon Williams (Boston), Brandon Zimmerman (Pasco, Wash.).
Midfielders (7): Gregory Garza (Grapevine, Texas), Jared Jeffrey (Dallas), Brendan King (Naperville, Ill.), Alex Nimo (Portland, Ore.), Dane Shea (College Station, Texas), Kirk Urso (Lombard, Ill.), Daniel Wenzel (Federal Way, Wash.).
Forwards (5): Daniel Cruz (Glendale, Ariz.), Bryan Dominguez (Atlanta), Abdusalam Ibrahim (Richfield, Minne.), Ellis McLoughlin (Seattle), Billy Schuler (Allentown, N.J.).
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