The 2015 Under 17 World Cup is rapidly approaching and the United States U-17 Men’s National Team now know who they will be facing the in group stage of the tournament.
On Thursday August 6th, the draw to decide the groups in the tournament was made. The U.S. they were placed in a tough group including tournament’s host Chile, the defending champions Nigeria, and the highly technical Croatians in the first phase of the tournament that will start in October.
The first U.S. match will take place on October 17th against Nigeria, and then the Americans retake the field on October 20th against Croatia before wrapping up on October 23rd against the host country, Chile. The tournament ends on November 8th.
[quote_box_center]“It’s always good when you know your opponents and can really start to prepare for what’s ahead,” said head coach Richie Williams. “It’s an exciting moment and we’re ready to get to work. Chile, Croatia and Nigeria are strong teams, and we know it’s going to be a challenging group.[/quote_box_center]
The U.S. knows they have a big challenge ahead of them, and they will be tested right from the beginning. If they are able to make it past the group stage and advance to the knockout rounds, this will be a great achievement.
All of these 4 teams are strong and have good chances to advance. But it will take that extra effort to make it through.
Out of the 20 selected, 6 players are from California: defenders Hugo Arellano from LA Galaxy Academy (Norwalk, CA), Alexis Velela from San Diego Surf (San Diego, CA), midfielder Eric Calvillo from Real So Cal (Palmdale, CA), forwards Josh Perez (La Habra, CA), Brandon Vazquez from Club Tijuana (Chula Vista, CA), and Haji Wright from New York Cosmos (Los Angeles, CA).
Arguably the most talented player on the U.S. side right now is Christian Pulisic, who was actually born in Croatia but became a U.S. citizen. He plays a the club level for Borussia Dortmund as he was able to sign with the team before he turned 18th while he still had a Croatian passport. There have been rumors about the Croatian Football Federation contacting Pulisic to recruit him to play for their nation.
There will be a total of 24 nations competing in the tournament, and the top 4 third placed teams from the group stage will also advance to the Round of 16 along with first and second place of each group.
The U.S. missed the tournament in 2013 and is just now returning. This year they were able to get their tickets to the World Cup after going through penalty shootouts in the CONCACAF Championship playoffs and winning it. The last U.S. U-17 appearance in the World Cup was in 2011 and finished second in the group stage before losing to Germany 4-0 in the Round of 16.
If they want to make it through the group stage and possibly go further in the competition, they are going to have to make a lot of improvements from the CONCACAF Championship tournament.
These are the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup Groups:
Group A: Chile (host), Croatia, Nigeria, United States
Group B: England, Guinea, Brazil, Korea Republic
Group C: Australia, Germany, Mexico, Argentina
Group D: Belgium, Mali, Honduras, Ecuador
Group E: South Africa, Costa Rica, Korea DPR, Russia
Group F: New Zealand, France, Syria, Paraguay