For the U.S. U17 Women’s National Team, every time the team comes together at this stage of the year is critical with the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament coming in May.
And the team’s latest trip to La Manga, Spain provided such an opportunity, as the U17s played three U19 teams – France, England and the Netherlands – in the beginning of March.
“I think the games went well for us,” defender Brittany Basinger told TopDrawerSoccer.com of the trip. “We continued to improve tactically and the more we play together, the better we play as a team. I enjoyed going against the older, more experienced players.”
From a results standpoint, the USA finished the trip unbeaten. After opening with a 2-0 win against France, the team tied England 1-1 despite hitting the woodwork on three separate occasions, and then finished strong with a 2-0 win over Holland.
For U17 head coach Albertin Montoya, one of the best aspects of the trip was getting to play against teams utilizing a variety of playing styles, something he hopes will help preparations for World Cup qualifying.
“It was really good to see our players adjust to different systems, handle adversity that these teams threw at us,” he told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “France with possession, England the more physical, athletic team, and then the Dutch very well organized.”
Montoya was extremely pleased by how the team responded to each opponent. Against France, the USA was out possessed, but managed to keep its defensive shape, and after entering the half scoreless, broke in behind France’s back line to score twice.
The England game was a bit different, as it forced Montoya’s side to cope with a physical approach, and while the USA dominated the run of play, England scored with its first chance of the game. Morgan Andrews (Players To Watch National Top 100 #1 player
) tied the game right before halftime, and neither side could find a winner.
Finally, the last game of the trip ended in a dominant performance, as Montoya could sense the gorwing confidence of his group, and while the match ended in a 2-0 win, it could have easily been a more lopsided result.
As the team prepares for May’s qualifying tournament in Guatemala, this trip provided another chance to continue forming a tight-knit group.
“I think each camp or event we build a little more as a team,” North Carolina-bound midfielder Summer Green told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “The team is not only close off the field, but also on.”
Added Montoya: “This group is really coming together. You can just see the team chemistry all the time, whether they’re at breakfast, lunch, dinner or just going for a walk, (and in) their training sessions.”
On the field, the team’s impressive defensive form was once again on display, conceding just one goal in three games, as center back Maddie Bauer continued to emerge as a vocal leader along the back line. Montoya was pleased to see progress in the final third as well.
“Our goal going into this camp was making sure that we were better in the attacking third and I thought we were,” he said. “We could have finished our chances better, but we created so many in all three of the games. That was very good to see and defensively we’re still sound.”
Overall, the players themselves were pleased with both the results, and simply having the opportunity to travel abroad and test themselves against strong opposition.
“I think the trip was a very cool experience and also a learning experience,” Green said. “It was a trip bringing everyone together again to play the game we love. We all were pumped to play and dug deep in every game to show our US grit.”
The team is scheduled to have one more camp before May’s qualifying tournament at the beginning of April, providing one last opportunity for the coaching staff to tweak ahead of the trip to Guatemala.U.S. U17 WNT in La Manga:
Goalkeepers: Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire; Kennesaw, Ga.), Cassie Miller (Sereno FC; Cave Creek, Ariz.)
Defenders: Morgan Andrews (FC Stars of Mass.; Milford, N.H.), Brittany Basinger (FC Virginia; Purcellville, Va.), Maddie Bauer (Slammers FC; Newport Beach, Calif.), Lauren Kaskie (Heat FC; Las Vegas, Nev.), Lizzy Raben (Colorado Rush; Greenwood, Colo.), Morgan Reid (Chelsea Ladies; Cary, N.C.)
Midfielders: Miranda Freeman (Lady Renegades SC; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Summer Green (Michigan Hawks; Milford, Mich.), Gabbi Miranda (Colorado Rush; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Sarah Robinson (MVLA Lightning; Los Altos, Calif.), Morgan Stanton (Colorado Rush; Lakewood, Colo.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.)
Forwards: Emily Bruder (Utah Avalanche; Sandy, Utah), Amber Munerlyn (So Cal Blues; Corona, Calif.), Toni Payne (Concorde Fire; Birmingham, Ala.), Margaret Purce (Freestate Soccer; Olney, Md.)