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U.S. Under-17s beat Guatemala, face Honduras in decisive CONCACAF quarterfinal

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The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team took another step closer to their goal of qualifying for the Under-17 World Cup in Friday by beating Guatemala, 1-0. The victory sets up a winner-take-all quarterfinal match-up against Honduras on Sunday, with the winner booking a place in the Under-17 World Cup.

Corey Baird scored the lone goal for the Americans, volleying home a Rubio Rubin cross in the 49th minute to give the U.S. the goal they needed to top the group.

Honduras suffered a 2-0 loss to Mexico late Thursday to set up Sunday’s quarterfinal showdown in Panama City. The match will air live on Fox Soccer Channel at 6pm on Sunday.

The U.S. trotted out a more skilled lineup against Guatemala, with head coach Richie Williams starting midfielders Joel Sonora and Junior Flores. The changes led to some quality soccer, though not the flurry of goals the Americans were probably hoping for. Guatemala made things difficult and even created some chances of their own, only to be denied by U.S. goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell, who made his lone save in the 88th minute an impressive one.

Here are the match highlights:




  1. Projecting youth players is always a roll of the dice, but I’m thinking we’ll still be hearing the names Shaq Moore, Joel Sonora and Rubio Rubin five years for now.

  2. Gotta say, am impressed with what I saw in the highlights, but am wondering: Shouldn’t this team, which most posters above call kids, be called the Under 17 Boy’s National Team. I just checked to see how Germany does it, and they call the U-20 team men, but beginning with 19-year-olds and younger the teams are called junior teams.

  3. Not sure how things work in terms of birthday cut off dates, but this team must have largely been born AFTER MLS kicked off game 1 back in April 1996, yes?

    • Yes. All the of the players are from 1996-97, and only 8 or so were born before MLS kicked off, and all of the players were born after the league officially formed in 1995. Amazing to think these kids have has MLS their entire lives.

  4. Call me crazy, but I was not impressed, compared to previous U-17’s. For being together as much as they are throught out the year (more than U-20’s and full USMNT) it almost seems as if they were not reading each other. Their was alot of poor passing, unessary craddling of the ball, slowing down any offensive rythm. It just seems that they were trying to force alot off passes that turned into turn overs…IMO… Mexico looks scary as they always do at this level. Sorry guys…not seeing us beat them…I hope I am wrong.

  5. Just a reminder that the chance that more than one of these players becomes even a regular is low. The 2005 U17 roster produced Jozy, Omar, and Subotic (ouch). Shea is the only player for 07 that has become a semi-regular. We are looking at 2022 as a realistic time that 1-3 of these players will help us

    • Amen. Even the great 2007 U-20s only have us Bradley and Jozy.

      Freddy Adu, who was one of the top players in the tournament, isn’t making an impact. Szetela and Zizzo got European moves out of the tournament and didn’t pan out. The list goes on. Being a top tier youth player and a top tier professional are completely different. It takes a lot to turn U-20 talent into a quality pro. There is a long list of incredibly talented guys who couldn’t cut it as high level professionals.

      • This is something Mexican fans seem to ignore. Because they have won a couple of youth championships they think they are destined to win the WC. Portugal had an outstanding youth squad and have good national teams after, but are not yet world beaters. Argentina has won multiple youth world championships and are always good, but never quite make it to the WC championship. A lot of it is players who develop early and then little farther and then there are players who develop late and surpass the youth stars. The bottom line is you never know for sure except for the occasional superstar.

      • Never quite make it to the WC championship? You’re right, with two WC’s under their belt they sure don’t. And those multiple Copa America wins must only serve as consolation prizes. Or having a player in nearly every league winning team in Europe. All signs point to Argentine football being a huge flop.
        Or how about that other minnow who through the 80’s and 90’s produced stellar youth teams but was only able to win one WC in 2010 after failing at so many? Spain I think is it’s name. It’s investments in its youth structures don’t seem to be panning out for them. And let’s not forget Holland or Italy. Those youth systems have nothing to do with their success at producing top talent.
        If you haven’t realized by now, I’m being sarcastic. The truth is that it’s hard to measure the true value of investments in player development if you’re only metric is having won a WC. What if Spain hadn’t won the WC but was still producing talent like Mata, Iniesta, Ramos and Xavi? A tournament like the WC should be won by the best team, but sometimes it’s won by a really, really good team that either got lucky with their draws or got lucky on the day. There are teams in history who were the better team but they were beat on that one game, sometimes even by a bad call. The Dutch team of the 70’s or the Danes of the late 80’s were great teams, but they didn’t win. That doesn’t mean that their individual talent and development system was off, especially since their players formed part of nearly every elite squad in Europe.
        Player development is one thing and I am not arguing that the goal should not be to win a WC and be world champions. But when you develop top talent at such a rate as Spain and Argentina or Brazil, to the point where there seldom is a top team without a player from that country, that should also be counted as a success.
        I think Mexico is on the right track and if more and more elite European teams start to look at bringing on Mexican talent to fill their international player slots I would count that as a success. There are too many variables that can throw off a run to a WC championship, but to be considered a leading talent developer is not a bad place to start. Just think Spain in 2002, few would have given it the benefit of the doubt to EVER win a WC. You never know when a tournament will smile on you. Heck, in the last Olympics Spain, Uruguay and England all crashed out in the group stage and left the door open for a Mexico to take the gold medal. Who says that can’t happen again?

    • exactly, but they are fun to watch! and will push development forward

      Rubin is another darn good player on this team not mentioned in the above posts, served the ball from either side very well in this game; nice to have two footed players

    • No question, but it does seem as if we’re getting teams with higher levels of technical ability than past teams. That’s exciting to watch and it’s tough not to dream and project a bit.

      • Agreed. Although with multiple coaching changes, I don’t think we can expect any trends in players panning out professionally.

        I think that the point is that there is no way to know how many of these kids will pan out from year to year. So, when predictions fail, the exercise then becomes optimism vs pessimism. I see too many pessimistic types here on SBI.

      • The best thing that can happen is if we qualify and do well in UAE then some of these players can get youth deals with some Euro clubs and truly develop into solid pros

  6. Between these kids and the U-20’s, we’re not looking too bad in terms of talent. Really impressed by the individual quality and technical skills in both squads, and feel that we are beating teams with that, as opposed to a decade ago when even Donovan and Beasley’s youth sides were good, but were too reliant on superior athleticism.

    • Have to disagree with the sentiment here. If the US is going to advance to the next level internationally we are going to need players that have both technical quality and athleticism. I really didnt see a player in that U17 team that was athletically impressive which is why I, like others have posted, doubt whether even one of these guys will be playing for the senior team.

      In contrast, the Mexican U17s, at least from the highlights shown during the US game, did appear to have some impressive athletes on the field.

    • Hands down agree with you here. Others have been great, but Conor Donovan has been spectacular. He is rarely wrong-footed or caught in possession when he has the ball, and when he doesn’t he physically and mentally outcompetes his opponent. Most important, he makes safe plays yet tries to distribute to Lema before anything else. When Guate picked up on that by reading a couple plays, he started sending it wide to Moore.

      • I don’t know if you watched the whole game but that kid is something else, he is really skilled not just footwork but positioning and passing. Soñora is outstanding but the whole team is talented. I think this is the first time I have seen a youth team where there are more than 1 clear prospect for the future. Exciting.

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