In a little over a month, U.S. Soccer faces a precarious examination of the depth available in its women’s soccer youth setup.
The CONCACAF qualifying tournament for next year’s Under 20 Women’s World Cup – to be held in Papua New Guinea – kicks off on December 3 in Honduras. That could leave a depleted pool of players available, as the dates overlap with the women’s College Cup and the college players who are age-eligible also have final exams to contend with.
As a result, U.S. preparations during the college season have featured rosters compiled primarily of club standouts. For example, the last roster had 19 club players, with the two college players involved were backup goalkeepers.
That aside, a number of standout performances during the college season shouldn’t go unnoticed, providing Michelle French some options when the head coach picks her roster. Below are 10 age-eligible college players who deserve a look from French as the NCAA tournament draws near.
F Cecelia Kizer, Mississippi
The Kansas native recently landed SEC Freshman of the Year honors after leading the Rebels and all first-year players in the nation with 14 goals. Kizer doesn’t have the same kind of athleticism or speed as some of her other counterparts on this list, although she’s a savvy finisher who gets in the right spots, and can play as a true No. 9 in a variety of systems.
Freshmen have been a huge part of Stanford’s success, and if the Cardinal are not involved at the College Cup, French could take a long look at Cook in central defense, or others not on this list, like Jordan DiBiasi and Michelle Xiao. Cook has started in central defense from the very first game of the season, improving into one of the premier first-year defenders in the country.