U20 WNT roster announced for WC qualifying
U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Jitka Klimkova has named the 20-player roster for the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship to be held Jan. 18-28 in Trinidad & Tobago.
The roster is made up of 16 collegiate players and four youth club players, all of whom play for U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy teams. Players born on or after January 1, 1998 are eligible for the 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cup, and Klimkova has named players from three birth years: six born in 1998, 11 born in 1999 and three born in 2000. The roster’s youngest player is 17-year-old Real Colorado forward Sophia Smith, recently named 2017 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year.
2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship Roster (College or Club; Hometown; Caps/Goals):
DEFENDERS (7): Tierna Davidson (Stanford; Menlo Park, Calif.; 6/0), Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC; 6/0; San Jose, Calif.), Tara McKeown (USC; Mission Viejo, Calif.; 11/0), Zoe Morse (Virginia; East Lansing, Mich.; 9/0), Kiki Pickett (Stanford; Santa Barbara, Calif.; 2/0), Isabel Rodriguez (Ohio State; Canton, Mich.; 8/0), Karina Rodriguez (UCLA; Torrance, Calif.; 3/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Sam Coffey (Boston College; Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.; 7/1), Savannah DeMelo (USC; Bellflower, Calif.; 23/4), Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.; 12/0), Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat; Durham, N.C.; 9/0), Viviana Villacorta (UCLA; Lawndale, Calif.; 10/1)
FORWARDS (6): Abigail Kim (California; Vashon, Wash.; 11/3), Civana Kuhlmann (Stanford; Littleton, Colo.; 12/8), Ashley Sanchez (UCLA; Monrovia, Calif.; 20/6), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.; 11/8), Taryn Torres (Virginia; Frisco, Texas; 3/1), Kelsey Turnbow (Santa Clara; Scottsdale, Ariz.; 8/2)
“This was not an easy process,” Klimkova said. “To look over the entire year, then boil it down to the 30 players in the New Year’s camp and then pick the final roster was difficult, and that’s a credit to the players. The most recent camp was so competitive. The players left everything on the field and they were really battling for roster spots.”
Klimkova named three players who were not a part of the roster for the 2017 Nike Women’s International Friendlies last month: defenders Tierna Davidson and Kiara Pickett of Stanford and forward Ashley Sanchez of UCLA. At the time of the Friendlies, the trio was coming off of playing in the NCAA College Cup Final. Thirteen players on the roster have previous CONCACAF World Cup qualifying experience and 11 have played for the USA in a FIFA Women’s World Cup at the youth level.
The 2018 CONCACAF Women's U-20 Championship features eight nations divided into two groups of four teams. The top two finishers in each group will qualify for the semifinals, with the winners of those games along with the winner of the third-place match earning berths to the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in France.
All 16 matches of the tournament will take place across eight matchdays at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Trinidad. The United States will open the tournament on Jan. 19 against Nicaragua, face Jamaica on Jan. 21 and finish group play against Mexico on Jan. 23.
“It’s a real positive that so many players have experience in qualifiers,” said Klimkova. “That can help us a lot. They know what to expect, they know how difficult it is to travel to these CONCACAF countries and they know how challenging all these games will be. We know that CONCACAF teams are improving every year, we know that every game, every goal we score, every goal we allow and every yellow card we get will be important. These players are experienced in being prepared for every situation and that can help us qualify and win the tournament. Focusing on all those details will be really important.”
2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship
Group B Schedule - USA
Date Match Kickoff (ET) Venue
Jan. 19 USA vs. Nicaragua 5:30 p.m. Ato Boldon Stadium; Couva, Trinidad
Jan. 21 USA vs. Jamaica 6:30 p.m. Ato Boldon Stadium; Couva, Trinidad
Jan. 23 USA vs. Mexico 3:00 p.m. Ato Boldon Stadium; Couva, Trinidad
- Host T&T, Canada, Costa Rica and Haiti are in Group A.
- The USA has won four consecutive CONCACAF championships.
- This will be the first CONCACAF qualifying tournament for head coach Jitka Klimkova, who took over as head coach April 201, but she is no stranger to Youth World Cup tournaments or qualifying. She came to U.S. Soccer from the New Zealand Football Federation, where she served as head coach of the New Zealand U-17 Women’s National Team and as an assistant coach for the Ferns U-20 Women’s National Team over 2013 and 2014. She was also an assistant coach for the senior New Zealand Women’s National Team in 2014 and worked as the USA’s head scout at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
- Defenders Tierna Davidson and Kiara Pickett, midfielder Savannah DeMelo and forward Ashley Sanchez were all members of the U.S. team that won the 2015 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship to qualify for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
- Davidson played in all five games of the 2015 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship, starting four and picking up one goal and one assist. DeMelo started all five games, finishing with one goal and three assists. Pickett played in only the first match before suffering an injury that kept her out for the rest of the tournament. Sanchez, one of the youngest players on the squad, scored three goals and five assists, including the game-winner in the championship match for a 1-0 victory against Canada.
- DeMelo and Sanchez went on to play in the World Cup in Papua New Guinea. DeMelo played in three matches while Sanchez started all six, notching one goal (against New Zealand) and two assists.
- Sanchez also played in the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan, where she captained the team and scored three goals.
- Her goal against New Zealand at the U-20 Women’s World Cup made her the only player in U.S. history to score in the U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cup in the same cycle.
- The roster’s two goalkeepers – Laurel Ivory of Virginia and Amanda McGlynn of Virginia Tech – were both full-time starters during their college seasons, Ivory as a freshman and McGlynn as a sophomore.
- Of the 16 college players on the roster, 12 completed their freshman seasons last fall while four –Davidson, forward Abigail Kim, McGlynn and defender Zoe Morse -- were sophomores.
- Davidson was named to the full U.S. Women’s National Team’s January Camp roster and will train in Los Angeles with the senior side prior to the tournament.
- The youth club players – defender Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC), midfielder Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado), midfielder Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat) and forward Sophia Smith (Real Colorado) – are all high school seniors.
- Eleven players on the roster participated in the 2016 CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship. The Americans took home the title, outscoring their opponents 18-2 and defeating Mexico 2-1 in the championship game on goals from Sanchez and Civana Kuhlmann.
- Those eleven players are: Ivory, Girma, Pickett, defender Isabel Rodriguez, defender Karina Rodriguez, Howell, Pinto, Kuhlmann, Sanchez, Smith and forward Taryn Torres.
- Sanchez scored five goals in the U-17 qualifying tournament and Kuhlmann put four in the net.
- Ten of the 11 players who played in U-17 WWC qualifying (minus Taryn Torres) went on to play in the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
- Morse and Kuhlmann were part of the U.S. U-17 team that fell in penalty kicks to Mexico in the Semifinals of the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship. The USA failed to qualify despite outscoring its opponents 26-1 in the tournament.
- Every player on the roster has been capped at the U-20 level, led by DeMelo (23) and Sanchez (20).
- Forwards Smith and Kuhlmann have the most international goals with eight each, followed by Sanchez with six. Six other players have scored in U-20 international matches.
- The three players born in 2000 – Girma, Pinto and Smith -- are age-eligible for the 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
- The 20 players on the roster come from 15 different youth clubs in nine different states. There are eight players from California – two from Northern and six from Southern – as well as three players from Colorado, two from Michigan and two from Florida.
- Players from 10 colleges are represented on the roster, including three players each from NCAA Champion Stanford and NCAA runner-up UCLA. Three players come from the University of Virginia and two from USC.
- Klimkova also chose four alternates to travel with the team to Trinidad & Tobago for training purposes, but the quartet will depart before the tournament, barring any injuries. Those alternates are goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn (Duke), defender Samantha Hiatt (Stanford), midfielder Olivia Athens (UCLA) and forward Jordan Brewster (Internationals SC).
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