CHICAGO – A combined 14 players from the USL Championship and USL League One have been selected to represent the United States at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil, with players including Orange County SC duo Aaron Cervantes and Bryang Kayo, Tacoma Defiance’s Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Danny Leyva and North Texas SC’s Ricardo Pepi among those named in the 21-player squad by U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Manager Raphael Wicky on Thursday.
Signed to a professional contract by Orange County aged 15 years old prior to the 2018 USL Championship season, Cervantes has made 11 appearances this season for Orange County, posting a 1.27 goals-against average and three shutouts in addition to four appearances for the U.S. U-17s. He is joined in the squad by Kayo, who recently signed with Orange County having previously suited up in the Championship for Loudoun United FC earlier this season.
Previously a standout in the FC Dallas Academy, Pepi was the first signing for League One’s North Texas SC as it launched this season. The center forward recorded nine goals in 12 appearances for NTSC this season to rank fifth in the league, scoring at a rate of a goal every 114.8 minutes as he helped the side finish top of the League One standings and earn the No. 1 seed for the upcoming USL League One Playoffs that kick off this weekend.
Cervantes and Pepi were joined on the recently announced 2019 USL 20 Under 20 by the Defiance duo of Leyva and Ocampo-Chavez, each of whom have been notable presences in Tacoma this season. Ocampo-Chavez has recorded six goals in 16 appearances for the Defiance, while Leyva has posted an 81.8 percent passing accuracy rate on 66.3 passes per 90 minutes in his 13 appearances this season.
Leyva was one of three players to have competed in the Championship named to the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship Best XI earlier this season, where he was joined by the LA Galaxy II’s Kobe Hernandez-Foster and Swope Park Rangers forward Gianluca Busio.
Combined, the 14 players selected have recorded 123 appearances and 9,039 minutes of action in the Championship and League One all-time, with seven of the players named to the roster having recorded at least 900 minutes of action for their clubs in the professional ranks.
The side will open play in Group D on Sunday, Oct. 27 against Senegal (3:50 p.m. ET; FS1, Telemundo), before contests against Japan on Wednesday, Oct. 30 (6:50 p.m. ET; FS2, Universo) and Saturday, Nov. 2 against the Netherlands (6:50 p.m. ET; FS2, Universo) to complete the group stage. The top two teams in each group will advance to the tournament’s knockout stage, with the four third-place teams with the best record completing the field for the Round of 16.
GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Aaron Cervantes (Orange County SC; Chino Hills, Calif.; 4/0), 1-Damian Las (Fulham/ENG; Norridge, Ill.; 19/0), 12-Chituru Odunze (Leicester City/ENG; London, England; 7/0)
DEFENDERS (7): 15-Sebastian Anderson (Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC; Highlands Ranch, Colo.; 4/0), 13-Adam Armour (North Carolina FC; Cary, N.C.; 18/0), 3-George Bello (ATL UTD 2; Douglasville, Ga.; 8/1), 4-Nicolas Carrera (North Texas SC; Frisco, Texas; 3/0), 14-Tayvon Gray (New York City FC; Bronx, N.Y.; 17/0), 5-Kobe Hernandez-Foster (LA Galaxy II; Los Angeles, Calif.; 23/3), 2-Joe Scally (New York City FC; Lake Grove, N.Y.; 19/1)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 18-Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg/GER; Frankfurt, Germany; 2/0), 17-Ethan Dobbelaere (Tacoma Defiance; Seattle, Wash.; 3/0), 8-Bryang Kayo (Orange County SC; Poolesville, Md.; 8/1), 6-Daniel Leyva (Tacoma Defiance; Las Vegas, Nev.; 7/0), 16-Adam Saldana (LA Galaxy II; Panorama City, Calif.; 25/2)
FORWARDS (6): 7-Gianluca Busio (Swope Park Rangers; Greensboro, N.C.; 15/7), 20-Andres Jasson (New York City FC; Greenwich, Conn.; 11/1), 19-Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Tacoma Defiance; Merced, Calif.; 24/9), 9-Ricardo Pepi (North Texas SC; McKinney, Texas; 15/5), 10-Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; Bedford, N.Y.;15/8), 11-Griffin Yow (Loudoun United FC; Clifton, Va.; 12/7)