Three Sounders players will be representing the United States at the U-17 World Cup in Brazil. Raphaël Wicky has named Ethan Dobbelaere, Danny Leyva, and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez to the 21-player roster for the tournament. The US are in a group that also includes Senegal, Japan, and the Netherlands — a team that they recently faced and beat to in the Four Nations tournament.
This marks the first time the Sounders have sent a player to a youth World Cup since Deandre Yedlin went to the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
Leyva and Ocampo-Chavez have been consistently involved in the team throughout World Cup qualifying.
Leyva has routinely been one of the best players on the team, and was named to the Best XI for the Concacaf Championship. Ocampo-Chavez may not be the most highly-touted attacker on the team — that distinction probably goes to either Gio Reyna or fellow No. 9 Ricardo Pepi — but AOC still managed to lead the team in scoring throughout World Cup Qualification. His production has taken somewhat of a down-turn recently with the national team, but his red-hot form with Tacoma Defiance and increased comfort playing out wide in addition to playing as a striker should serve him well at the World Cup.
Dobbelaere is a more recent inclusion with the US U-17s, not having featured during the team’s qualifying campaign. That hasn’t kept the Sounders Academy player from taking full advantage of the opportunities he’s gotten, though, as he’s been a regular on Defiance gameday rosters and impressed along with AOC as the two traveled to the Netherlands for the Four Nations Tournament in September. Leyva was not called to that tournament as he was needed with the Sounders first team.
All three players have proven themselves more than capable competing against grown men at the USL Championship level, and should be well-prepared for the challenge of playing the best players in the world of their age group. While they can’t afford to look beyond any of their group-stage opponents, the US should like their chances of advancing to the knockout rounds. That journey will begin with a game against Senegal on Oct. 27.
From there the team will hope to improve upon the quarterfinal exit the U-17s made at the 2017 World Cup. In a tournament known for showcasing some of the brightest talents in world soccer before they become bona fide stars, the Seattle trio will be poised to make a splash.