The U.S. U17 Women’s National Team should be considered the favorites at the 2016 U17 World Cup.
Despite what head coach B.J. Snow has said recently about the U.S. falling behind the rest of the world in player development, he still brings the most talented and confident team into the competition.
Snow’s group has not lost a competitive game together. Ever. Since he took over as coach of the group in 2014, they are on a 17-game unbeaten run (15-0-2). Along the way, they beat Japan twice and defeated Switzerland’s U19 Women’s National Team twice.
The rest of the world is catching up, but they are still behind this group. And they are pretty far behind this team at this World Cup.
The reason for the team’s success comes down to Snow. He has built a group that buys into his system. He has also designed the playing style to highlight the best attributes of his best players. Snow, the former UCLA head coach, benefits from a talent-rich pool, but he has also been brave in his player selection. He is taking four players born in 2001 to a Youth World Cup meant for players born in 1999. Two years is a large gap in player development in the U17 age group. They aren’t just there for the ride as well, all four are likely to contribute at one point or another.
Snow’s dedication to the player discovery process helped uncover a number of players who might not have made this group without his vision for their trajectory as players. He also had the assistance of Women’s Development coach Mark Carr (U15 GNT) and Tricia Taliaferro (former U16 GNT coach) to help provide players for the U17 age group.
The commitment to this process has this group as prepared as any youth national team has ever been for a World Cup. Snow’s coaching staff has been diligent in laying out plans for each specific player over the past year as the focus has been on being as ready as possible when her number is called.
The expectation for the team is that they will continue to play at the level they have displayed in the past. The level that helped the group secure results against some of the best teams in the world. Take a look at the breakdown of how the USA will play and what to look from the World Cup games below.