The USA hold the enviable record of being the only team to have qualified for every single FIFA U-17 World Cup since its inception back in China in 1985. With a focus on youth development and overall organisation, the US Soccer Federation has created something of a dynasty at junior level, with full-time residency camps making a lean, mean fighting unit out of the young lads. Their best finish in the competition came in New Zealand in 1999, when, led by current senior standouts Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley, the Americans finished fourth, losing in the semi-finals on penalties. The Stars and Stripes have gone out at the round of 16 to European opposition in the last two editions of the U-17 finals.
Led for the second straight time at a U-17 showpiece by former Colombia international and FIFA World Cup veteran Wilmer Cabrera, the organised and sprightly USA are eager to translate their success at regional (CONCACAF) level to the world stage. In the qualifying competition in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the Americans put on quite a show, winning all five of their games and dispatching neighbours Canada in a tough final that went to extra-time. The USA coach used no less than four different line-ups in the preliminary competition as his team scored 12 goals in their five games and conceded only three.
The States head into the finals in Mexico as North, Central American and Caribbean champions and coach Cabrera will have some outstanding players to rely on once there. Marc Pelosi and Andrew Souders marshal the backline with authority. Andrew Oliver and Alfred Koroma are deadly weapons in attack and will help make up a strong core for the US team this June and July. “We went to qualifiers to prove what we could co and we made it to the World Cup,” said Cabrera. “I'm proud of the kids and the work they did. To play five games and win all five shows that we’ve been doing a good job and working hard.”