Another U-17 World Cup qualifying tournament, another pair of Seattle Sounders youth players called in by the USYNT. This time around Chris Aquino and Stuart Hawkins will suit up as the US work to earn a place as one of the four Concacaf teams to qualify for the World Cup in November. The two Tacoma Defiance players participated in a U-17 training camp in January of this year as well, Aquino’s first with the group. Tacoma Defiance/Seattle Sounders are one of only two organizations to send more than one player for the U-17s, with the San Jose Earthquakes sending a total of three players.
The Concacaf U-17 Championship serves as the World Cup Qualifying tournament, and includes 20 teams. 16 of those teams will compete in a Group Stage in four groups of four, with the final four teams joining in the Round of 16. After competing in a pre-qualifying tournament, the four teams that have already advanced to the Round of 16 are Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
The US are in a group with Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados. Coincidentally the group features only one change from the group that Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez faced with the US U-17s back in 2019, with Trinidad and Tobago taking the place of Guatemala this time around.
While World Cup qualification is the obvious and primary goal, regional tournaments like this one always provide an opportunity to measure yourself against the teams around you and hopefully come away with some bragging rights. Aquino and Hawkins will be doing their best at opposite ends of the field to help secure the fourth Concacaf U-17 Championship in 20 editions of the tournament for the US, and the US’s first since 2011. Beyond that, the US will be intent on making a better impression should they reach the World Cup than the team did in 2019. After an impressive showing throughout qualifying, US U-17 team that went to the World Cup in 2019 - featuring Ethan Dobbelaere, Leyva and Ocampo-Chavez - fell flat and was knocked out in the Group Stage without winning a single game.
That journey starts on Saturday, February 11 at 5 PM with a game against Barbados.
How to watch
Game 1, Sat. 2/11: 5 PM - US U-17s vs. Barbados U-17s - FS2, ViX+
Game 2, Mon. 2/13: 5 PM - US U-17s vs. Trinidad & Tobago U-17s - FS1, ViX+
Game 3, Wed. 2/15: 5 PM - US U-17s vs. Canada U-17s - FS2, ViX+