The Kids Are Alright

In what many observers are calling a preview of the Russia 2018 final, the US U17 team will take on Canada tonight in their age group CONCACAF finals, the quallies for their World Cup.

Well, OK, so maybe they aren't saying that. In fact, age group championships usually tell us nothing at all about how the same nations will fare when the same players are 28 years old. Not sure why this is exactly.

However, since the last three U17 World Cup winners were Mexico, Nigeria and Switzerland, we have to admit that a win tonight (7 PM on ESPN3, ESPN Deportes and CONCACAF.TV, meaning, basically, that you won't be watching) doesn't really tell us a lot but beating Canada is always good for a few snarky comments.

The US got into the final match by beating Jamaica 2:0 in front of a raucous Montego Bay crowd solidly supporting the Reggae Kidz, as Marc Pelosi toe poked a goal in the tenth minute and then served up the second to Andrew Oliver off a free kick in the games' closing minutes.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zITCdv0eST8"]YouTube - Feb. 25, 2011: U-17 MNT vs. JAM Highlights[/ame]

Oliver now has three for the tournament, Pelosi has two and neither of them qualify as MLS homegrowns. Just saying.

Interestingly, while the majority of the roster (13 of 20) are currently on Dev Academy teams only a couple of them are eligible MLS affiliates.

One of the latter is US first choice GK Fernando Vina (Houston Dynamo) who missed Friday's match due to a suspension after a late red card in the previous match against El Salvador. What was most interesting about it was that the referee had to trot over to the stretcher he was being carried off on to show it to him. (The incident begins around 4:20. You be the judge)

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nOy2kiHVpM"]YouTube - Feb. 22, 2011: U-17 MNT vs. El Salvador Highlights[/ame]

Of course these are mostly Bradenton Babies, theoretically the best we've got at that age but again, it's pretty much a crapshoot at this age.

For example, here's the 2007 team:

1 1GK Josh Lambo
2 2DF Sheanon Williams
3 2DF Mykell Bates (c)
4 2DF Tommy Meyer
5 2DF Chris Klute
6 3MF Daniel Wenzel
7 2DF Kofi Sarkodie
8 3MF Jared Jeffrey
9 4FW Ellis McLoughlin
10 3MF Bryan Dominguez
11 4FW Abdus Ibrahim
12 3MF Kirk Urso
13 4FW Billy Schuler
14 4FW Daniel Cruz
15 3MF Brek Shea
16 2DF Brandon Zimmerman
17 3MF Gregory Garza
18 1GK Zac MacMath
19 4FW Alex Nimo
20 1GK Larry Jackson
21 3MF Brendan King

Certainly the jury is still out on a lot of them, but for guys like Nimo I'm afraid they've submitted the verdict and headed out for drinks at this point.

To be fair, if we back up to 2005, we'll probably see a lot more big names.

1 1GK Bryant Rueckner
2 2DF Amaechi Igwe
3 2DF Kevin Alston
4 4FW Jozy Altidore
5 2DF Ofori Sarkodie (c)
6 4FW Quavas Kirk
7 4FW Omar Gonzalez
8 3MF Kyle Nakazawa
9 4FW Preston Zimmerman
10 4FW David Arvizu
11 3MF Ryan Soroka
12 3MF Gabriel Farfan
13 2DF Blake Wagner
14 2DF Neven Subotić
15 3MF Dan Kelly
16 3MF Nikolas Besagno
17 3MF Jeremy Hall
18 1GK Diego Restrepo
19 3MF Michael Farfan
20 1GK Brian Perk

Filling the Alex Nimo role is of course Nik Besagno. Meanspirited. Sorry.

A few gems, for sure, and also a reminder - as if we needed one - that we let possibly the best player on the team, Subotic, wander off. But some solid pros and certainly some national teamers both current (Altidore) and future (Gonzalez) but still way too many "yeah buts" interspersed amongst the "Who the hell is that" guys.

But to be entirely on the up and up here, let's go back one more cycle, to 2003:

1 1GK Phil Marfuggi
2 2DF Kyle Helton
3 2DF Jonathan Spector
4 3MF Eddie Gaven
5 2DF Dwight Owens
6 2DF Chris Germani
7 3MF Brian Grazier
8 3MF John DiRaimondo
9 4FW Michael Harrington
10 3MF Guillermo González
11 3MF Freddy Adu
12 2DF Steven Curfman
13 4FW Jamie Watson
14 2DF Julian Valentin
15 3MF Corey Ashe (c)
16 2DF Adrian Chevannes
17 3MF Danny Szetela
18 1GK Quentin Westberg
19 4FW Jacob Peterson
20 1GK Stephen Sandbo

Anybody would take Spector in a heartbeat and Gaven is a solid pro. I've always been partial to Corey Ashe but he's not exactly burning the house down. And a couple guys - well, I don't want to pile on.

As long as I've wasted this much time, I'll go one more; ten years ago in 2001:

1 1GK Ford Williams
2 2DF David Chun
3 3MF Justin Mapp
4 4FW Paul Johnson
5 2DF Tyson Wahl
6 2DF Chris Lancos
7 4FW Mike Magee
8 2DF Jordan Harvey
9 4FW Santino Quaranta
10 4FW Eddie Johnson
11 3MF Chefik Simo
12 2DF Gray Griffin
13 3MF David Johnson
14 2DF Chad Marshall
15 3MF Jordan Stone
16 3MF Craig Capano
17 4FW Erwin D