San Jose Earthquakes Academy midfielder Gilbert Fuentes was among 24 players called to the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team by head coach John Hackworth for the 2017 Men’s Nike International Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. that runs from Nov. 29-Dec. 3.
Fuentes, 15, plays for the Earthquakes’ U-19 Academy squad and most recently represented the U.S. at the CONCACAF U-15 Championship, where they reached the final. This call-up is Fuentes’ first at the U-17 level.
“To begin the new U-17 cycle with the Nike International Friendlies competing against traditional world powers is a big challenge,” Hackworth said. “However, our staff has evaluated these young men, most recently at the CONCACAF U-15 Championship, and we are all looking forward to the chance to work with this talented group.”
U.S. U-17 MNT 2017 Nike International Friendlies Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (4): Khamari Culcleasure (D.C. United; Alexandria, Va.), John Tyler Harms (Shattuck- Saint Mary’s; Whitefish Bay, Wisc.), Damian Las (Chicago Fire; Norridge, Ill.), Kashope Oladapo (Portland Timbers; Happy Valley, Ore.)
DEFENDERS (7): Axel Alejandre (FC United Soccer Club; Chicago, Ill.), Sebastian Anderson (Colorado Rapids; Highlands Ranch, Co.), George Bello (Atlanta United FC; Douglasville, Ga.), Mitchell Eise (Sporting Kansas City; Springfield, Mo.), Mason Judge (Chargers Soccer Club; Tampa, Fla.), Kenneth Nielsen (Pateadores; Irvine, Calif.), Joseph Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Joshua Atencio (Seattle Sounders FC; Bellevue, Wash.), Adam Saldana (Real So Cal; Panorama City, Calif.), Gilbert Fuentes Perez (San Jose Earthquakes; Tracy, Calif.), Maximillian Goeggel (VFB Stuttgart; San Francisco, Calif.), Peter Stroud (New York Red Bulls; Chester, NJ)
FORWARDS (8): Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; Greenboro, NC), Julian Gaines (Lonestar Soccer Club; Austin, Tex.), Cade Hagan (Sockers FC; Naperville, Ill.), Diego Lopez (FC Golden State; Chino, Calif.), Daniel Mangarov (Atlanta United FC; Duluth, Ga.), Alfonso Ocampo Chavez (Seattle Sounders FC; Fresno, Calif.), Dante Sealy (FC Dallas; Frisco, Tex.), Ray Serrano (Seattle Sounders FC; Graham, Wash.)
The USA’s schedule of international opponents for the 2017 rendition of the tournament opens vs. England on Nov. 29 (4 p.m. PT) followed by matches against Netherlands on Dec. 1 (4 p.m. PT) and Brazil on Dec. 3 (2 p.m. PT). All the tournament games will be played at Premier Sports Campus and can be seen live on ussoccer.com.
2017 Men's Nike International Friendlies Schedule
Wednesday, Nov. 29
Brazil vs. Netherlands, 12:30 p.m. PT
USA vs. England, 4 p.m. PT
Friday, Dec. 1
England vs. Brazil, 12:30 p.m. PT
USA vs. Netherlands, 4 p.m. PT
Sunday, Dec. 3
Netherlands vs. England, 10:30 a.m. PT
USA vs. Brazil, 2 p.m. PT
The players who will make up the new U-17 MNT player pool (birth year 2002 or later) competed as U-15 Boys’ National Team during 2016 and all of 2017 until this tournament. Like any U-17 Men’s National Team at the beginning of their cycle, the players and staff now set their focus on the 2019 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, where the top four teams will qualify for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
In total, the 2002 Boys’ National Team player pool has already gathered a total of four times in 2017, including two domestic camps earlier in the year as well as two major international tournaments: the 2017 Torneo delle Nazioni and the 2017 CONCACAF Under-15 Championship.
At the Torneo delle Nazioni, held in Gradisca, Italy, the U.S. defeated Slovenia (4-0) and Russia (2-1) before falling to England (3-2), advancing to the semifinals. After bouncing back with a 4-2 victory over Portugal in the semifinals, the U-15 BNT set up a rematch against the Three Lions in the tournament final. A goal from forward Giovanni Reyna in the final minute of regulation ultimately broke a 1-1 deadlock and earned the USA the tournament title.
At the 2017 CONCACAF Under-15 Championship, the USA found a similar stride, defeating Canada (2-0), Trinidad and Tobago (6-0) and Costa Rica (4-1) in the group stage to advance to the semifinals vs. Panama.
Against Panama, the USA took care of business, defeating La Marea Roja 3-0 to earn another title shot; this time against regional rival Mexico. However, the outcome against El Tri went against the U.S. 2-0.
At last year’s Nike Friendlies, Josh Sargent, Andrew Carleton and Ayo Akinola led the way for the Red, White and Blue, securing victories against Portugal (7-1), Turkey (5-1) and Brazil (3-0) to finish as tournament champs.
Two years before the recent U-17 World Cup Quarterfinalists captured the title, Christian Pulisic, Luca de la Torre, Haji Wright and Josh Perez lead the 1998 birth year to a 4-1 win over Brazil to win the 2013 tournament.
Marking the 17th edition of the Men’s Nike International Friendlies, 2017’s tournament will once again feature three nations from a rotating field that includes Australia, Brazil, England, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Turkey. Brazil has attended the tournament every year since 2006, in addition to a 2003 appearance.
International players such as Brazil’s Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Marcelo, the Netherlands’ Memphis Depay, and many others have also taken the main stage in the well-regarded international tournament.
Development Academy Ties:
- All 24 players on the roster have ties to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
- The roster includes two players who have signed professional contracts as MLS Homegrown Players: George Bello (Atlanta United FC) and Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City)
- Bello and Daniel Mangarov are the two DA Champions on the roster, helping lead Atlanta United FC to the 2017 U-15/16 Development Academy national title.
- Forward Alfonso Ocampo Chavez paces the roster with four seasons spent with a Development Academy club; Ocampo Chavez spent three seasons with Merced Atlas Soccer Academy before moving up to Seattle Sounders FC, where he is currently in the midst of his second season.
- At the end of the 2016-17 Academy season, five players were named an Academy U-15/16 Best XI selection to their respective conference, in their respective positions: Axel Alejandre (Central), George Bello (East), Mason Judge (East), Gianluca Busio (Central) and Damian Las (Central).
- Along with the Sounders trio, a total of 14 players on the USA roster represent Development Academy clubs in Major League Soccer: defenders Sebastian Anderson (Colorado Rapids), George Bello (Atlanta United FC), Mitchell Eise (Sporting Kansas City) and Joseph Scally (New York City FC), midfielders Joshua Atencio (Seattle Sounders FC), Gilbert Fuentes Perez (San Jose Earthquakes) and Peter Stroud, and forwards Busio (Sporting Kansas City), Daniel Mangarov (Atlanta United FC), Alfonso Ocampo Chavez (Seattle Sounders FC) and Dante Sealy (FC Dallas).
- Sixteen of the 24 players were part of the team that finished runner up to Mexico at the 2017 CONCACAF U-15 Championship in August, while fifteen were part of the team that took home the Torneo delle Nazioni championship trophy.
- Maximillian Goeggel is currently the only player plying his trade internationally, playing in VFB Stuttgart’s youth system.
- MLS club Seattle Sounders FC has the largest representation of players with three: Joshua Atencio, Alfonso Ocampo Chavez and Ray Serrano.
- Forward Dante Sealy is the only 2003 birth year players on the roster.