Last week the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team punched its ticket to the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.
Behind Atlanta United Homegrowns Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin and Academy player Zyen Jones, the U.S. battled its way through the group and classification stages, winning five straight and earning a spot in the final of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Panama. Though eventually falling to Mexico in penalty kicks, the team’s appearance in the final was enough to secure its seat in India.
Mexico may have taken the trophy, but not before the U.S. was able to get a jab in after a historic 4-3 comeback victory in group play.
“It was incredible to be the first team to beat Mexico in U-17 World Cup Qualifying history,” said Goslin. “Going into the game we knew the history, but we were all confident that we could get the win.”
“It was payback from when we played them in Mexico,” added Jones. “So winning that game was important to us.”
The three Atlanta United products clocked a total of 761 minutes throughout the team’s six matches in the tournament.
“It's great having ATL teammates with me representing our country,” said Goslin. “We are all good friends and you'll always see us together when we're at camps.”
Jones notched two goals in the tournament including the game-winner against El Salvador in the third group stage match which he then followed with an acrobatic celebration similar to that of Atlanta United first team player Kenwyne Jones.
Meanwhile, Carleton tallied two assists and bagged a few goals of his own, including this cheeky chip in their 6-2 victory against Cuba, which ended up breaking into ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays of the night:
“I just remember Taylor winning the ball in the midfield and I made a run forward,” said Carleton. “Our strikers flicked it on and I picked up my head after my first touch, saw the keeper coming out and so I knew it was on to chip him. So I just let it go.”
After the final whistle in their match against Cuba, it was all smiles and celebration from the U.S. players. Not only had they locked in a place in the tournament final but they had secured a spot for their nation to compete on the world’s most prestigious stage.
“It's just such a big relief to be finally qualified,” said Goslin. “This is something we have been working towards for almost two and a half years and to know that all the hard work finally paid off was amazing.”
“It's every kid’s dream to play in the World Cup and it's an awesome feeling to qualify for your country,” said Carleton. “We are all very excited and can't wait for the moment to come.”
Along with fellow CONCACAF nations Mexico and Costa Rica, the U.S U-17s will travel across the world to India in October to compete in the FIFA U-17 World Cup to take on the best of the best.
“Qualifying for the World Cup was a dream come true and I wouldn't want to qualify with any other team,” Jones added. “Being able to compete against all the top players and countries from around the world is truly an amazing challenge this group is ready to take on.”