United States U-17 men’s national team Head Coach Raphael Wicky has called in Tacoma Defiance standouts Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez to his 26-player roster for a camp in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., from April 4-8.
The camp will be the final event for the U-17s ahead of 2019 U-17 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, which commences with a match against Canada on May 2.
“It’s obviously great timing [for both Leyva and Ocampo-Chavez], with World Cup qualification just around the corner,” said Sounders FC Director of Player Development and Academy Director Marc Nicholls. “Both Danny and Alfonso have earned significant minutes with the Tacoma Defiance and with the First Team in preseason. It’s a great test for them now to see if they can make it into the squad for qualifiers, and then of course the U-17 World Cup.”
Leyva, 15, has been a consistent presence with the club’s USL Championship outfit, starting four of his five appearances with the Defiance. Through 354 minutes of action, the young midfield metronome has completed 83.5 percent of his 254 pass attempts, in addition to tallying eight interceptions on the defensive end.
On Oct. 16, 2018, he became the youngest player in club history to sign a professional contract, which came one month after his professional debut. The Las Vegas native made his CenturyLink Field debut on Feb. 20, coming on as a substitute for Nicolás Lodeiro in the First Team’s friendly against Uruguayan powerhouse Club Nacional.
Leyva playing for Tacoma Defiance the 2019 USL Championship season opener against RGV Toros FC | Charis Wilson
A mainstay and captain of the U.S. U-16 national team, this is Leyva’s first call-up to the U-17 side. Along with FC Dallas prospect Ricardo Pepi, he is the only 2003 included on Wicky’s first roster since he assumed the post last month.
“We’re delighted for Danny, obviously he’s playing up with the national team,” added Nicholls. “Both Danny and Alfonso have benefited not only from being in the Defiance environment, but also the exposure. When you’re a national team coach preparing for a World Cup, and you’ve got young guys playing professional matches against men, it’s only going to help their development and give them experience in dealing with big occasions.”
Ocampo-Chavez, 17, enters his eighth camp of the 2019 U-17 cycle as the team’s top scorer with five goals from 14 caps. A clever, two-footed forward with a nose for goal, the Merced, Calif., native has made three appearances, including two starts, for the Defiance in the 2019 USL Championship season.
One of eight players from the club’s U-17 USSDA national championship side to sign a contract, Ocampo-Chavez made his professional debut two years ago, starting against Real Monarchs SLC in July 2017. In addition to his Defiance duties, the young forward has amassed 12 goals from eight appearances for the Academy U-17s and U-19s.
Alongside the U-20s, the U-17s are arguably the most important national team, as the cycle culminates in a FIFA World Cup, where the top American prospects can test themselves against the best young players in the world. Between the upcoming camp and opportunities to play professional matches with the Defiance, Leyva and Ocampo-Chavez will hope to cement their places in Wicky’s side ahead of the Concacaf Championship in May.
You can find more information on the camp here.