Akil Watts, Timbers Academy, U.S. Soccer, 10.21.17

The U.S. U-17 National Team’s run in the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup came to an end with a loss to England in the Quarterfinal over the weekend. Timbers Academy defender Akil Watts made a second straight start in the loss.

The United States’ run at the U-17 World Cup was highlighted by wins against host India and Ghana in the Group Stage and a dominate performance against Paraguay – a 5-0 win – in the Round of 16.

“I’m very happy with how far we went in the World Cup,” said Watts. “Obviously, we wanted to bring the cup home, but it wasn’t meant to be. Being able to represent my country and play against the best talent in the world was a dream come true.”

Watts made three appearances for the U.S. U-17s during the tournament. He made his FIFA U-17 World Cup debut on Oct. 9, coming off the bench to help the team see out a shutout, 1-0 win over Ghana. He then made the first of his two starts on Oct. 16, featuring at right back in the shut-out performance against Paraguay played in front of nearly 35,000 spectators.

The experiences throughout the tournament were the biggest takeaways for Watts.

“The first time my name got called to go in against Ghana – my World Cup debut – is a moment I will never forget,” said Watts. “Also, my first start and playing in front of thousands of people. Winning that game against Paraguay was amazing; the atmosphere was amazing. This is why I play soccer, because these moments are beautiful and you never forget them.”