The 2018 Under-20 Women’s World Cup kicks off in under two weeks, with the United States seeking its first youth World Cup since capturing one in 2012. Steve Swanson was the head coach six years ago, the last time the United States captured the crown. Coincidentally, the U.S. roster announced last week features four players set to play for Virginia during the 2018 season under Swanson.
While that’s an interesting anecdote, here’s a closer look at the upcoming schedule, the U.S. roster and a potential starting lineup Jitka Klimkova could trot out two weeks from now in France.
Group C Schedule (EST)
Aug. 6 – USA vs. Japan – 1:30 p.m.
Aug. 9 – USA vs. Paraguay – 1:30 p.m.
Aug. 13 – USA vs. Spain – 7:30 a.m.
DEFENDERS (7): Emily Fox (North Carolina; Chapel Hill, N.C., 32/3), Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC; San Jose, Calif.; 17/0), Samantha Hiatt (Stanford; Newcastle, Wash.; 11/1), Tara McKeown (USC; Newbury Park, Calif.; 22/0), Zoe Morse (Virginia; East Lansing, Mich.; 19/0), Kiara Pickett (Stanford; Santa Barbara, Calif.; 16/0), Isabel Rodriguez (Ohio State; Canton, Mich.; 19/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Savannah DeMelo (USC; Bellflower, Calif.; 36/5), Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.; 26/2), Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat; Durham, N.C.; 22/3), Taryn Torres (Virginia; Frisco, Texas; 12/2), Viviana Villacorta (UCLA; Lawndale, Calif.; 23/1)
FORWARDS (6): Erin Gilroy (Tennessee; Bellmore, N.Y.; 4/2), Penelope Hocking (So Cal Blues; Anaheim, Calif.; 9/3), Abigail Kim (California; Vashon, Wash.; 24/6), Ashley Sanchez (UCLA; Monrovia, Calif.; 33/11), Alexa Spaanstra (Virginia; Brighton, Mich.; 3/0), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.; 25/21)
The first thing worth noting is that Tierna Davidson, with her exclusion from the U.S. U20 World Cup roster, and inclusion with the full WNT’s roster for the upcoming Tournament of Nations, is under consideration for playing time at that level. Born in 1998, Davidson is still U20 eligible, yet after being told she wasn’t good enough for that age group during the 2016 cycle, is now an option in central defense for the full team.
It seems a bit rushed, though never a bad thing to put faith in younger players. However, the timing is a bit odd with Davidson eligible for the U.S. U20 WNT.
Regardless, below is a projected starting XI and a position-by-position breakdown of the roster.