Three members of Sounders FC Academy have been named to the United States U-17 Men’s National Team 20-man roster for the upcoming Nike Friendlies in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., this weekend. After initially earning spots on the 24-player preliminary roster, the trio of Josh Atencio, Ray Serrano and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez made the final cut for a series of upcoming international friendlies against England, Brazil and the Netherland in a round-robin format.
The event will kick-start the next two-year cycle for the squad, culminating in the 2019 U-17 World Cup, and it will be the first cycle since USSF disbanded the Bradenton Residency Program. With three members of the Rave Green youth system, the Sounders have the highest representation of any club.
While all three have been involved in the U.S. Youth National Teams -- Atencio and Ocampo-Chavez featured regularly in the most recent U.S. U-15s cycle, while Serrano participated in the U.S. Soccer Futures Camp back in May -- the Nike Friendlies marks the trio’s first involvement with the U.S. U-17s. Both the U.S. U-20s and U-17s serve as the most critical developmental teams in terms of producing players through the professional pathway.
“It will be very interesting to see how the three boys stack up at the international level,” said Academy Technical Director Marc Nicholls. “All three of them have international experience with us and with Youth National teams in the past. It’s an exciting time for these players as they begin the long road toward what could be a World Cup.”
In recent years, the annual event has served as a showcase for the brightest prospects for the Stars and Stripes, featuring breakout performances from the likes of Christian Pulisic and Josh Sargent. The tournament has also offered soccer fans a first glimpse of future stars of the international game, with players such as Neymar and Philippe Coutinho participating in years past.
Atencio, Ocampo-Chavez, and Serrano have all been key contributors since joining Seattle’s youth system, with the trio routinely playing 1-3 years above their age groups. Their time in the Academy will have them well prepared for the international level, as the trio were dominant against some of the top youth players in the world at both the Manchester City Cup and the Youdan Trophy.
An intelligent, technical box-to-box midfielder, Atencio was a driving force behind the U-14s’ run to a third-place finish at the Manchester City Cup, toppling the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and host-club Man City. Ocampo-Chavez, a dynamic and crafty No. 9, made his professional debut for S2 back in July against Real Monarchs, just one month before winning the Golden Boot as the Youdan Trophy’s top-scorer. Serrano, who can play anywhere across the midfield and forward lines, has been in scorching form for the U-17s this season with 12 goals and six assists from just 11 USSDA league appearances.
Every match will be live-streamed via U.S. Soccer’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. You can find more information on the event, the full schedule and roster here.