The United States under-17 national team (pictured) gathers for a photo prior to its friendly at Jamaica on November 2, 2016, in Kingston.
BRADENTON, Florida -- The United States has proven itself as a force with which to be reckoned at the under-17 level, participating in 15 of the 16 World Cup editions, missing out only in 2013.
In order to add an appearance at India 2017 to the list, it will have to finish among the top four teams in next year’s CONCACAF Under-17 Championship. The task will not be a simple one as evidenced by Tuesday’s draw, which put the Americans into Group C with two-time defending champion Mexico, Jamaica and El Salvador.
Head coach John Hackworth says he is not fazed by the challenge and is focused on getting his players focused for the tournament, which will be contested April 21-May, 2017, in Panama.
“It’s a tough draw, but I think our team is determined to be able to represent our country in an Under-17 World Cup,” the 46-year-old told CONCACAF.com. “We are going to plan accordingly for three very tough opponents to start the tournament. We will get ready to make sure that we are prepared for everything anyone can throw at us. I am confident that we can progress into the next round and we take things from there when it comes.”
Hackworth, a former Philadelphia Union manager, guided the U.S. to the quarterfinals and Round of 16 at the 2005 and 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cups, respectively. His current squad recently captured the Nike International Friendlies crown with wins over Portugal (7-1), Turkey (5-1) and Brazil (3-0), giving him confidence that it is poised for future success.
“The players are technical enough now that we can play against the best teams in the region and in some cases, not only compete with them on a technical and tactical side, but be successful and thrive in CONCACAF,” finished Hackworth. “We work very hard and going into this tournament I am confident of great things.
“It’s everybody at U.S. Soccer, especially from the Development Academy to the youth national teams, that we believe we can be successful in a U-17 World Cup in the future. But first all eyes are on qualification in Panama and getting past Jamaica, Mexico and El Salvador.”
The U.S. has won the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship on three occasions (1983, 1992, 2011), only Mexico with six has seized more titles.