San Jose's Cruz Medina shines for USA at Concacaf U-17 Championship

Cruz Medina - US U17

Remember the name.

San Jose Earthquakes homegrown midfielder Cruz Medina scored a hat trick Saturday night for the United States U-17 national team as they began their quest to qualify for the first ​​FIFA U-17 World Cup held since 2019 (paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

The 16-year-old took center stage in a 5-0 victory over Barbados at the Guatemala-based 2023 Concacaf U-17 Championship, moving the US atop Group F. The four quarterfinal match winners will qualify for the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.

Medina opened the scoring in the 25th minute on a recycled effort following his blocked penalty kick, and he iced the game in the 93rd minute with a near-range tap-in. But it was a 43rd-minute long-range blast that showed Medina’s true potential, uncorking a swerving shot that zoomed past Barbados’ goalkeeper.

Medina, then 15, signed with San Jose last June by inking a homegrown deal through the 2026 MLS season with an option for 2027. He’s yet to make his first-team debut, though that could change under new Earthquakes head coach Luchi Gonzalez, who was renowned for youth development during his time at FC Dallas.

USA roster

US U-17 head coach Gonzalo Segares called up a 20-man roster that includes players from 12 different MLS clubs, including a leading three from San Jose (defender Oscar Verhoeven and midfielder Edwyn Mendoza are the others). 

Aside from Medina, Charlotte FC’s Brian Romero is the other US U-17 player already signed to an MLS homegrown player deal. Inter Miami CF defender Tyler Hall, Seattle Sounders FC defender Stuart Hawkins, Austin FC forward Micah Burton and Houston Dynamo FC forward Ezekiel Soto are additional MLS-based standouts.

Remaining Group F games

The top three finishers in each group qualify for the Round of 16, where they'll be joined by the four teams from pre-qualifying. From there, it’s a knockout bracket to the tournament final – and only the quarterfinal winners reach the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

  • Feb. 13: USA vs. Trinidad and Tobago | 8 pm ET (FS1, ViX+)
  • Feb. 15: USA vs. Canada | 8 pm ET (FS2, ViX+)

The US have qualified for a record 17 FIFA U-17 World Cups, tied with Brazil for the most all-time. The US have won the Concacaf U-17 Championship three times, most recently in 2011 with a team featuring current USMNT players Kellyn Acosta (LAFC) and Paul Arriola (FC Dallas).