US U23 WNT to use La Manga for identification
While Olympic preparations are in full swing for the U.S. Woman’s National Team, the stars of tomorrow are getting a chance to shine in La Manga, Spain over the coming week.
Starting February 26, the US U23 women are competing in the Four Nations tournament, facing Sweden, England and Norway. The event will in part be used toward the continuing effort to help player identification in the U.S. women’s program.
Recently appointed U23 WNT coach Randy Waldrum (also the Notre Dame head coach) had a chance to catch up with Pia Sundhage at the recent U.S. friendly against New Zealand, and is implementing some of the ideas discussed there into this tournament.
“We also had some great discussions regarding her philosophy and the style she wants to see our team play,” Waldrum told TopDrawerSoccer.com via email. “So with these discussions in mind, I'll be updating Pia on the progress of our team as well as some of the individuals in our program.”
It hasn’t been a straightforward buildup, as Waldrum only took the position last month, and will have just six days in advance to prepare the group for this tournament, as the team arrived in Spain on February 20.
“One of the biggest challenges I'm finding right now is simply not having enough time with the team before the La Manga event,” he said. “I came on board in January, and we've only had one camp to prepare, so our team preparation is not where I would like it ideally.”
The U.S. opens play against Sweden on the 26th, before taking on England two days later, then wrapping the tournament up against Norway on March 1.
Waldrum’s roster is a mix of players either still in college, fresh out of school, or with a year of WPS play under their belts. Toni Pressley, Bianca Henninger and Stephanie Ochs join Lindsay Taylor, a national champion at Stanford last fall, as some of the post-collegiate talent on the roster.
Unfortunately, that quartet was left in a lurch by the loss of the WPS season after they were all drafted this past January, something which also happened to a handful of others who now must also sort our their playing future in a world without women’s pro soccer in America (at least for this season).
Regardless of the variety in background of his players, Waldrum feels like he has a good grip on his roster.
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“I feel like I know most of the players in our pool due to college and following them in the pros,” he said. “There are obviously some of the players at certain schools I don't know as well. I'm trying to have some of the players I don't know as well come into camp so that I can compare them to the existing pool that I do know.”
A number of the players, will return to their respective college programs after the tournament, including goalkeeper Adrianna Franch (Oklahoma State), Amber Brooks (North Carolina), Jazmin Hall (Notre Dame) and Vicki DiMartino (Boston College).
But with the other half of the roster looking for opportunities to play, Waldrum said it remains to be determined how well U.S. and the U23 program can help fill the void.
“That is still being worked out, but I do know the rest of the schedule includes another camp after La Manga and possibly another foreign tour which I believe is being worked on now,” Waldrum said. “We’ll have to reevaluate the future schedule in this new environment.”
U.S. U23 WNT Roster:
Goalkeepers: Adrianna Franch (Oklahoma State; Salina, Kan.), Bianca Henninger (unattached; Los Gatos, Calif.)
Defenders: Natasha Anasi (Duke; Arlington, Texas), Lauren Barnes (out of contract; Upland, Calif.), Jazmin Hall (Notre Dame; Highland Village, Texas), Camille Levin (unattached; Newport Coast, Calif.), Toni Pressley (unattached; Melbourne, Fla.), Elli Reed (out of contract; Park City, Utah), Kika Toulouse (Virginia; Arlington, Va.)
Midfielders: Amber Brooks (North Carolina; New Hope, Pa.), Zakiya Bywaters (UCLA; Las Vegas, Nev.), Bianca D’Agostino (out of contract; Longmeadow, Mass.), Sinead Farrelly (out of contract; Havertown, Pa.), Taylor Lytle (Texas Tech; Las Cruces, N.M.)
Forwards: Vicki DiMartino (Boston College; Massapequa, N.Y.), Stephanie Ochs (unattached; San Diego, Calif.), Morgan Marlborough (Santa Clara; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Lindsay Taylor (unattached; Los Altos, Calif.)Travis Clark is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an email.
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