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FIFA U-17 World Cup Semifinals: A Look Ahead

Yesil (Getty Images)


It remains to be seen whether the current Mexico Under-17 side will supply the senior team with as much talent as the 2005 edition, which captured the U-17 World Cup in Peru behind the likes of Giovani dos Santos and Carlos Vela. Either way, the hosts are into the semifinals of the 2011 tournament following an impressive 2-1 victory over France on Monday, and striker Carlos Fierro certainly looks to have a bright future.

Fierro was on target early in the second half with his fourth goal of the tournament, breaking the deadlock after Kevin Escamilla and France's Jordan Ikoko had already found the back of the net. Marco Bueno was behind every Mexican move and seems to be a major talent as well.

It was a solid tournament for the French team, which departed Mexico with two potential future stars in Abdallah Yaisien and Yassine Benzia, but only Germany is left to carry the flag for Europe after knocking off England on Monday. The Germans raced out to their customary big lead with Samed Yesil scoring twice and Kaan Ayhan adding another, but England surprisingly came storming back.

Samuel Magri converted a penalty midway through the second half and Hallam Hope found the back of the net seven minutes from time, setting up a frantic finish, as Germany held on for a 3-2 win. Brazil survived a similar scare on Sunday against Japan. Emerson Avila's side looked to be in total control with a 3-0 lead and 15 minutes remaining before Japan made things interesting.

Goals from Shoya Nakajima and Fumiya Hayakawa nearly spoiled Brazil's best performance so far, which included a sensational strike from Adryan. The Selecao overcame the absences of Lucas Piazon and Nathan, both suspended due to yellow-card accumulation, as Leo broke the deadlock with a precise header from a corner and striker Ademilson scored his fifth goal in as many games.

Next up for Brazil is a familiar foe in Uruguay, which ended Uzbekistan's fairytale run with a 2-0 victory Sunday. Santiago Charamoni and Rodrigo Aguirre provided the scoring, and the defense was solid as usual for Fabian Coito's side. It should be an entertaining encounter between the two South American rivals, while Mexico battles Germany in an absolutely mouth-watering clash.

Here is a closer look at the two semifinal matchups:

Uruguay vs. Brazil, Thursday, 4 p.m., ESPNU/

Brazil captured the South American Under-17 Championship back in April, but one of the lowest points of its campaign was a scoreless draw with Uruguay in the final round in which the Selecao were thoroughly outplayed. Emerson Avila knows full well the threat posed by a Uruguayan side with an excellent goalkeeper in Jonathan Cubero and attacking threats like Santiago Charamoni.

Manager Fabian Coito could be without captain Emiliano Velazquez who limped off against Uzbekistan, while Juan Cruz Mascia remains sidelined due to injury. Lucas Piazon and Nathan return for Brazil, but Adryan misses out through suspension, which represents a brutal loss for Avila, who needs Piazon to display the kind of form that led Chelsea to sign him earlier this year.

Germany vs. Mexico, Thursday, 7 p.m., ESPNU/

Fierro is already drawing comparisons to Manchester United star Javier Hernandez, and Fierro can boost his reputation further with a strong performance against powerful Germany, by far the most impressive team in the competition thus far. Fierro is joined by Bueno and Arturo Gonzalez in the attack, while Antonio Briseno is entrusted with anchoring the back line.

Briseno will need to be at his best to contain Yesil, who is now the tournament's second-leading scorer. Midfielder Emre Can provides most of the service, while right back Mitchell Weiser is a sensational weapon with his rampaging runs down the wing. Steffen Freund's side has already scored 18 times in five games.


Who do you see winning the semifinal matches and advancing to the U-17 World Cup final? Can you see Mexico knocking off Germany? Which players have impressed you during the tournament?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Yeah. I think it’s obviously a positive (you see the effect the 2005 Mexico squad is having now), but people should realize that even the most successful squads add only a few players to the national team pool. Just look to our most successful U-17 team from 1999. It produced one every-game starter (Landon Donovan), two who held down starting roles at some point (DaMarcus Beasley and Oguchi Onyewu), and two fringe players (Kyle Beckerman and Bobby Convey). Clearly this team was beneficial for the US player pool, but it takes more than a handful of players to win a tournament — it takes a good crop of supporters who may never make an impact as professionals.

    I think there’s plenty of hope for the group that got trampled by Germany. Pelosi and Guido look like potential stars…and if things go right for some other guys (Koroma comes to mind), they could make an impact, too.

  2. ehhh yes and no.

    I do agree that championships at this stage don’t equal championships at the top level; however, it is a good indicator of where teams are going. Switzerland for example barely got beaten by Spain in the last Euro u21 championship, in 1999 the US finished fourth with Landon Donovan winning MVP of the tourny and they dominated CONCACAF for 10 years after that. Mexico fought back, they actually brought the trophy home and reclaimed the conference, and now they have team staples like Gio Dos Santos, Pablo Barrera, Moreno, and Juarez plus I’m hoping Vela does a come back.

    If Mexico continues to look good and keeps sending kids to Europe like Carlos Fierro, Espericueta, Marco Bueno, and Briseno [who I think are the best players in the team] they will continue to gain ground in football.

  3. I forgot to add, the cons outweigh the pros of Brandenton. It’s been a huge waste of resources IMO. I wonder how many countries have this type of system

  4. Does Mexico have a “Brandenton Academy” set up??

    Let capitalism take care of our youngsters future. MLS should make rules protecting players developed by academies.

  5. I know a guy with incredible ball technique who has played his whole life. He tried out for a local community college team and the coach told him he was a good player but too small (he’s 5’11 about 175lbs). It sounds like the team was made up of physically imposing players. Anyway, my point is, the US is obsessed with being physically dominant. We should be obsessed with recruiting creative players with control and vision, not just good at long balls.

  6. Most of Mexico’s u-17 players belong to Chivas Guadalajara, and they have been recieving offers from Barclona’s & Ajax’s youth systems and others European clubs all tournament. Chivas owner Jorge Vergara said that he would not sell any player until they make an official debut with chivas, much like he is doing with Cubo Torres who Manchester has shown interest for fro over a year now. We will see more and more young Mexican talent in Europe in the coming years. Chivas youth system is very impressive, they are doing a excelent job in creating and selling talent. Remember that both germany and mexico are the only 2 teams left in the tournament that have won all of their games, I wouldn’t count mexico out.

  7. Mike, I agree. Switzerland won U17 world cup in 2009, Nigeria won in 2007, Mexico in 2005, Saudi Arabia won it in 1989. This success, however, did not translate to senior level. All these countries never avanced beyond the quater-final stage in the real World Cup. In contrast, many of the world cup winners (such as Spain, Germany, Italy, Argentina, etc.) never won U17 WC.

  8. We all better get used to it.

    There will be a decade of Mexican dominance over the US starting last month.

    This is unless the USSF make some drastic changes on and off the field. The program needs an overhaul top to bottom.

  9. I see a bright future for this generation of mexicans, Fierro is way better than the little pea, Espericueta has the speed and skill required to be Guardado’s sub one day, and just imagine Casillas next to Dos Santos, impressive right? I know Germany has destroyed all the teams they’ve played against, but if Mexico understands they’re not invincible then they will win, and I know they will.

    Brazil hasn’t had a real challenge yet (as always, I can’t believe the teams they’ve played against…Japan was the strongest…damn it FIFA, why do you always help Brazil, it’s so freaking annoying /:( )

  10. Don’t worry too much. Success at the youth levels doesn’t always translate directly to success at the senior level.

  11. In some ways it’s about damn time Mexico started doing consistently well in youth tournaments and producing more elite players. The country has a massive population, the league is well-established in terms of senior clubs and youth set-up, and soccer is absolutely the #1 sport in the country. They’re setting a precedent (for youth teams, at least) that we need to emulate, or else.

  12. Fierro looks like a goooood player for Mexico.

    Being an FCD fan, the goalie, Richard Sanchez (FCD youth), seems really inconsistent. At times he’ll make some great stops and then on the easy stuff he’ll just mess it all up.

    Regarding our youth development, I agree with earlier post. Need to just listen to ol’ Jurgen on that piece, at least.

  13. Also, anyone know why Spain wasn’t in this year’s U17? It’s hard to believe that Spain wouldn’t qualify. Did that really happen?

  14. Given that Mex won U17s in 2005 with C.Vela and G.Dos Santos, I’m concerned what Mexico’s success at this year’s U17 championship (and our quick exit against Germany) mean for our respective national teams.

    More and more, I think the issue is player development when we look at US v Mexico.

    Maybe if Germany destroys Mexico like they did us (4-0, with 2-0 at half), then I won’t be so worried 🙂


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