USA have participated in 14 of the first 15 editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, having only missed out in 2013. New Zealand 1999 has been the Stars and Stripes best showing to date at the U-17 World Cup, where they came in fourth place, narrowly missing out on a spot in the final after losing to Australia on penalties in the semi-finals. The Americans reached the quarter-finals on four other occasions, most recently at Peru 2005. Like many other countries who have participated at the U-17 World Cup, this tournament has helped launch the careers of some of the United States’ most successful footballers to date, including USA’s all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan.
USA made qualifying for Chile 2015 harder than they would have preferred at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The Americans missed out on the opportunity to seal automatic qualification by finishing atop Group A after losing 1-0 to Jamaica in their final match in the group stage, setting up a play-off – coincidentally against Jamaica – to take one of the last two spots to Chile 2015 from the CONCACAF zone. After a hard-fought, albeit goalless, 90 minutes, penalties were needed to decide the winner, which the Stars and Stripes narrowly edged the Jamaicans 5-4 after six rounds.
After sealing passage to Chile 2015, coach Richie Williams will be working with his squad in the build-up to their trip to South America to get ready for the World Cup. And while the Americans’ qualification never seemed certain, Williams was confident in his team after punching their ticket to Chile 2015. “My thoughts are, ‘We qualified for the World Cup.’ That’s what we came here to do,” Williams told U.S. Soccer after beating Jamaica on penalties. “I thought it was a great tournament. I thought we did very well, and I’m extremely proud of our players. They work extremely hard, they’re a good team. We had a couple setbacks, but they didn’t give up."