U.S. U17 women’s national team coach Albertin Montoya has a clear plan in place for the team’s upcoming trip to La Manga, Spain – keep building towards qualifying, and sharpen the attack.
“I think we’ve got some very dangerous players so it’s now really getting them to work well with each other in the attacking third,” he recently told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “In the last couple months we’ve been really working on the possession part of the game and making sure we’re well organized in the back and now we’re just moving our way up the field and hopefully by qualifying we’ll have everything put together.”
The group last trained together at the beginning of February, playing a pair of friendlies in Florida against Germany, winning those 1-0 and 2-0 respectively. Montoya cited the team’s defensive prowess and ability to control possession as high marks of that gathering.
Now, the head coach is trying to sort out how to best utilize his array of weapons in the 4-3-3 formation the team uses, including Summer Green, Emily Bruder, Andi Sullivan and Margaret Purce, who are all on the roster heading to Spain.
But the tournament itself will be a unique preparation for the CONCACAF qualifying process in May, as the U17s will play up against U19 competition, facing France, England and Holland.
“Not only are we playing an age up, we’re also playing some very strong sides in the women’s game,” Montoya said. “France has come a long way in these last five years. You saw what the senior team did in the World Cup, I thought arguably they were one of the best soccer playing teams in the World Cup.
“England is always a very talented, athletic and very well coached, and always an attacking sound team so we’re looking forward to playing them, and Netherlands is another team that is up and coming in the women’s game.”
Montoya also said that France’s game is generally similar to Mexico, one of the group opponents the U.S. women will face in qualifying, and he’ll use the games to continue to try out different lineup combinations, specifically focused on improving the team’s goal-scoring potency.
Along with fine-tuning the attack, the tournament is a chance to head abroad as group, as this marks the first occasion that this particular U17 group will travel somewhere. And while many of the players already are used to the demands of traveling and playing with their respective ECNL teams, it’s a chance to get players used to long distance travel before tough competition.
“We’ll always prepare for the worst, that’s what I tell our players – anticipate every flight being delayed, anticipate maybe even missing a flight, bus breaks down, anticipate for the worst, and if it doesn’t happen it’ll be a great trip altogether,” Montoya said.
“We can just keep thinking about performing well, understanding what the rules are within the game and really get their minds on playing good soccer all the way around. It’s not going to be too much of a new experience for them.”
The U.S. U17s begin play on March 4 against France.U.S. U-17 WNT Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS: Jane Campbell (Concorde Fire; Kennesaw, Ga.), Carissa Miller (Sereno FC; Cave Creek, Ariz.)
DEFENDERS: Morgan Andrews (FC Stars of Mass.; Milford, N.H.), Brittany Basinger (FC Virginia; Purcellville, Va.), Madeline Bauer (Slammers FC; Newport Beach, Calif.), Lauren Kaskie (Heat FC; Las Vegas, Nev.), Elizabeth 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.) Travis Clark is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an email.