By DAN KARELL
U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team manager Richie Williams announced on Tuesday a 20-man roster for the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, set to take place from April 6-19 in Panama. The last four teams remaining in the competition qualify for the World Cup in the United Arab Emirates this October.
Junior Flores, Rubio Rubin and Shaquell More headline a list of of 20 players on the team, with 18 being members of the U.S. U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Florida. The lone outsider is Joel Soñora, who plays in the Boca Juniors academy in Buenos Aires. Soñora is the son of former MLS player Diego Soñora, who played with the Dallas Burn, Metrostars, D.C. United, and the Tampa Bay Mutiny between 1996-2001.
“We’ve brought a lot of guys in through Residency and a lot of guys have done really well,” Williams said to USSoccer.com. “It’s been a long process, but we feel like we’ve narrowed it down to the 20 players for the roster. It’s never easy.”
Here is the full roster:
U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team CONCACAF Qualifying Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jeff Caldwell (North Carolina Fusion; Todd, N.C.), Evan Louro (New York Red Bulls; South River, N.J.)
DEFENDERS (6): Conor Donovan (NC Alliance; Fuquay Varina, N.C.), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake AZ; Tucson, Ariz.), Shaquell Moore (Unattached; Powder Springs, Ga.), Tommy Redding (FC America Premier; Oviedo, Fla.), John Requejo Jr. (Real So Cal; Carpinteria, Calif.), Peter Schropp (Omaha FC; Omaha, Neb.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Corey Baird (San Diego Surf; Escondido, Calif.), Junior Flores (Unattached; Manassas Park, Va.), Angel Heredia (San Jose Earthquakes; San Jose, Calif.), Christopher Lema (New York Red Bulls; Ridgefield, N.J.), Elijah Martin (Unattached; Fresno, Calif.), Joel Soñora (Boca Juniors; Buenos Aires, Argentina), Tyler Turner (South Central Premier; West Haven, Conn.)
FORWARDS (5): Mukwelle Akale (Minnesota Thunder; Minneapolis, Minn.), Sebastian Elney (Boca United; Lake Worth, Fla.), Rubio Rubin (Unattached; Beaverton, Ore.), Ahinga Selemani (CSA Wolves; Ann Arbor, Mich.), Alan Winn (Solar Chelsea FC; Garland, Texas)
The squad features players born in 1996 and 1997, three of which come from MLS developmental academies. Midfielder Angel Heredia plays with the San Jose Earthquakes academy, and both midfielder Christopher Lema and goalkeeper Evan Louro are part of the New York Red Bulls academy.
The residency group went on a ten-day tour in February in Panama, playing their Panamanian and Mexican counterparts during the trip. The U.S. team lost 4-0 to Mexico and three days later played Panama to a 1-1 draw, but Williams said the results on the field weren’t as important as the experience.
“We wanted to get down to Panama for about seven to 10 days to get three matches, to get acclimated,” Williams said. “To see what Panama’s all about and make sure it wasn’t the first time our guys had seen everything – what the hotel was like, what the fields were like, the training fields, the stadiums that we possibly could play in, to see what the weather was like, what the food was like, and we thought that was a great experience for our guys.
“It’s only going to help us this week when we travel down to qualifying.”
The U.S. are the defending CONCACAF U-17 Champions, defeating Canada 3-0 with all goals coming after extra time in the 2011 final. They open up the 2013 tournament with matches against Haiti and Guatemala, before the start of the knockout round.
“We feel like we’ve got a great group of guys that have been able to gain great experience at an international level,” Williams said. “Now it comes down to the most important international tournament, and that’s the qualifying. Either you move on to the World Cup or you come back home. We feel like they’re ready and we’ll go out there and do our best.”