WC qualifying challenges for U-17s 

November, 12, 2012
11/12/12
10:09
AM ET

Last November, the U.S. under-17s' then-coach Wilmer Cabrera led his team to a program-building championship at the Nike Friendlies in Florida, a run that included convincing wins over Turkey and Brazil.

A downright dominating performance in the final match against Brazil, the five-time U-17 world champions, in which the Americans flipped the script on the smooth-passing South Americans, was a highlight that suggested this group of U-17s might be the squad that vaults American soccer to new heights.

A year later, with the Nike Friendlies again on the horizon, much has changed for this still-promising group of young American prospects.

Cabrera parted ways with U.S. soccer soon after that triumph last November, having failed to come to an agreement on a new contract with the United States Soccer Federation. Richie Williams, a former U.S. international who previously spent time as an assistant coach with the New York Red Bulls, stepped in.

Though the player pool at Bradenton is much the same, the team under Williams has had its ups and downs, and some questions have popped up about just how good a group this is following its sensational start.

Here's an overview of how the team has recently performed, along with a look at Williams' formation and roster as the Americans head into the Nike Friendlies and qualifying matches for the 2013 U-17 World Cup.


To read more about challenges for the USMNT U-17s as the team prepares for World Cup qualifying, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for ESPN.com. Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.

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