Learning from failures is what allows certain programs to remain great for extended amounts of time.
The U.S. U17 Women’s National Team group play exit at the 2012 World Cup is a bit harsh to classify as a failure, but it did not meet the expectations that U.S. Soccer (and many of its fans) had for the group in Azerbaijan.
Heading into 2013, the Federation’s focus has already turned to sculpting a new core group of players for the 2014 CONCACAF Championship – the qualifying event for the World. And while that important tournament remains over 12 months away, there is a singular message that is being pitched for this cycle compared to last.
Find players born in 1998.
On the squad at the 2012 World Cup, there were zero players born in 1996. All of the 21 members of the team were born in 1995, which made a few members of the Federation curious that players only a couple of months younger had been overlooked.
This time around, U15 Girls National Team coach Daman Nahas and U.S. Soccer Director of Women’s Development Jill Ellis have both focused on integrating players born in 1998 with those a year older. A few players have emerged from that group and look to be in line for crucial roles in the buildup to qualifying next spring.