The United States U-17 team of 21 players has been announced by U.S. Soccer for the 2023 World Cup in Indonesia. The U.S. U-17s will face South Korea on November 12th at 7am EST, Burkina Faso on November 15th at 5am EST and France on November 18th at 7am EST. The top two teams from each group will automatically advance to the knockout round of 16. Four of the top six third place finishers in the group will also advance. The U.S. will likely need a win and a tie to comfortably make it through to the knockouts, which is the initial goal for this group.
Pedro Soma, center-mid for UE Cornella's Academy
Duran Ferree, San Diego Loyal (2006)
Adam Beaudry, Colorado Rapids (2006)
Zackory Campagnolo, Colorado Rapids (2007)
Both Ferree and Beaudry return from the Concacaf Championship team that finished second and once again Diego Kochen, the top option, is not available due to an injury. The drop off from Kochen to this group is big and both keepers have struggled at times for this team. I expect Ferree will come in as the starter and they will need him to minimize his mistakes.
Peyton Miller, New England Revolution (2007)
Tahir Reid-Brown, Orlando City (2006)
Luca Bambino, LAFC (2006) - alternate
U.S. Soccer usually selects only one true left-back to these smaller USYNT rosters, but they have two left-footed full-back options for this tournament. Both selections were not on the Concacaf roster, a roster that did not have one naturally left-footed full-back.
Peyton Miller gives the team the luxury of being able to play both as a full-back and as a winger which gives coach Segares some flexibility. Miller is the second youngest player on the roster and one of the top 2007 born players in the United States. He is the more attacking full-back option while Tahir Reid-Brown will serve as the more defensive option. Reid-Brown can also play center-back in a pinch.
Oscar Verhoeven, San Jose Earthquakes (2006)
Aiden Harangi, Eintracht Frankfurt (2006)
Shakir Nixon, LAFC (2006) - alternate
The right-back spot goes unchanged from the Concacaf tournament. Oscar Verhoeven will likely be the first choice right-back with Harangi as a very capable backup that can also jump into the midfield if needed. Both of these full-backs have experience playing on the left as well.
Noahkai Banks, FC Augsburg (2006)
Tyler Hall, Inter Miami (2006)
Stuart Hawkins, Seattle Sounders (2006)
Two of the three center-backs on this squad, Tyler Hall and Stuart Hawkins, were on the Concacaf squad. Both guys have been two of the most frequently selected players during this U-17 cycle. They are the incumbent starters, but I am not 100% sure that will be the first choice pairing. Noahkai Banks has emerged as one of the more talented players in this age group and has played well recently for this team. It's possible he forces his way into the starting lineup.
Pedro Soma, UE Cornella (2006)
Matthew Corcoran, Birmingham Legion (2006)
Pedro Soma will likely be the captain and one of the most critical players for this group. He was my MVP of the Concacaf tournament and has been the best player throughout this cycle. He has a ton of responsibility as a ball progressor and ball winner in the midfield. He will have a new backup at the six position in Matthew Corcoran. He joins this group after impressing in the last camp in Brazil. I'd like to see Segares play both of these guys at the same time to allow Soma to have more of an impact in the final third.
Cruz Medina, San Jose Earthquakes (2006)
Taha Habroune, Columbus Crew (2006)
Paulo Rudisill, LA Galaxy (2006)
Santi Morales, Inter Miami (2007)
The four midfielders on this squad are all strong play makers, but there really isn't a true box to box option, which is going to put a lot of defensive pressure on Pedro Soma. This group lacks pace and physical presence, but can do damage in the final third. Santi Morales replaces Chris Aquino from the Concacaf squad is the only the new within this position group.
Nimfasha Berchimas, Charlotte FC (2008)
David Vazquez, Philadelphia Union (2006)
Bryce Jamison, Orange County SC (2006)
One of the biggest weaknesses from the Concacaf tournament was lack of pace, creativity and play making ability from the wings. Segares clearly believed this to be the case because we are seeing a lot of turnover from the Concacaf tournament to the World Cup. Vazquez is the only name that remains from that tournament. Jamision and Berchimas are new faces and both players add pace and more dynamic qualities to the group. Berchimas is the youngest player on the roster and the only player born in 2008. He is widely considered one of the top prospects in the entire United States youth pool. Peyton Miller can also play as a winger and will likely seem time at that position.
Keyrol Figueroa, Liverpool (2006)
Micah Burton, Austin FC (2006)
Sal Olivas, Philadelphia Union (2006) - alternate
Figueroa comes into this tournament working back from injury, just as he did for the Concacaf tournament where he ended up scoring seven goals. Figueroa is a key player for this group and offers things that no other player can on this roster, so his availability will be key to the team's success. Burton is a versatile player that can play as a false nine, inverted winger and attacking-midfielder.
Who wasn't selected?
With any Youth National Team roster selection there are players that are deserving of a selection that do not get picked and this tournament is no different. It's important to remember that U-17 roster selections have very little correlation with future USMNT success, so don't stop tracking players just because they are not on this roster. This is my list of players that I believe were deserving of consideration:
GK, Diego Kochen, Barcelona (2006) - not released/injured
GK, Julian Eyestone, Duke University (2006)
GK, Alexander Yagudayev, NYCFC (2006)
LB, Christian McFarlane, NYCFC (2007)
RB, Shakir Nixon, LAFC (2006) - alternate
CB, Matai Akinmboni, DC United (2006)
CB, Neil Pierre, Philadelphia Union (2007)
CM, Bento Estrela, RBNY (2006)
CM, Adyn Torres, Atlanta United (2007)
CM, Nate Worth, FC Tulsa (2007)
AM, Christopher Olney Jr, Philadelphia Union (2006)
AM, Dylan Borso, Chicago Fire (2006)
CF, Caden Glover, St. Louis City (2007)
Players that were not eligible for selection
There are also players with U.S. passports that were not eligible for this tournament because they already played in provisionally cap-tying matches at the U17 level for other countries. Here is a list of players that might have been good enough to make the squad if they were willing and eligible:
RB, Malachi Molina, FC Dallas (2006) - Jamaica
CB, Lazar Stefanovic, Toronto FC (2006) - Canada
CM, Alejandro Granados, Club Brugge (2006) - Spain
WING, Olger Escobar, New England Revolution (2006) - Guetemala
WING, Fidel Barajas, Charleston Battery (2006) - Mexico
WING, Cole Campbell, Borussia Dortmund (2006) - Iceland
CF, Bryan Destin, Inter Miami (2006) - Haiti
Roster grade: B+
This squad is better than I expected it to be and I think Segares did a good job of identifying weaknesses in the group and made adjustments to try and mitigate those weaknesses. He added more attacking threat from the wings and improved the skill and athleticism on the backline with the additions of Banks, Reid-Brown and Miller.
The biggest misses on this roster is not including Matai Akinmboni, a left-footed CB that is already getting first team minutes with DC United. The other two head-scratching omissions include Christopher Olney and Caden Glover. Both are players that I believe would provide more attacking danger for the group.
The goal for this group is to get out of the group, which I don't think will be super easy, but I do think will happen. I think this group will struggle to control the midfield. I also think the back line could struggle and give up too many chances and I am not sure we have the goal keepers to consistently bail them out. On the attacking side of things, we are going into this tournament with a lot of unproven goal-scorers on the Youth International level outside of Keyrol Figueroa, who will be critical to the team's success.