The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team will travel to France to participate in the Tournoi Maurice Revello Sud Ladies Cup that will feature the U-20 WNTs of Germany, France and Haiti.
All four teams in the round-robin tournament have qualified for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, making this competition a valuable dress rehearsal for group play at the World Cup, which will be held in four venues in the Brittany region of France from Aug. 5-24.
The USA will face Germany to open the Sud Ladies Cup on Tuesday, June 5. The U.S. team will then take on fellow CONCACAF qualifier Haiti on Thursday, June 7, and finish against host France on Sunday, June 10.
The USA and Haiti met in the semifinal of the 2018 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship with the USA prevailing in penalty kicks (3-0) after a 1-1 tie during regulation to earn its berth to the World Cup. Haiti then upset Canada in the Third-Place match to earn its first-ever spot in a FIFA Women’s World Cup at any level.
All three games will take place at the Stade D'honneur D'athletisme in Salon-de-Provence, which is about 30 miles north of Marseille.
U.S. U-20 WNT head coach Jitka Klimkova has called up 22 players, all vying for one of the 21 roster spots on the USA’s 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Team. Klimkova’s roster is once again is a mix of three birth years, with seven players born in 1998 (the age cut-off year for the upcoming World Cup), 11 born in 1999 and four born in 2000.
Seventeen of the 22 players are in college with five still playing youth club, all for U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams. Defender Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC), midfielders Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado), Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat) and forwards Sophia Smith (Real Colorado) and Penelope Hocking (So Cal Blues) are the players on the roster who have not yet enrolled in college. All five will be head to college next fall at Stanford, Florida State, UNC, Stanford and USC, respectively.
The roster features four players from UCLA (D Karina Rodriguez, F Ashley Sanchez, M Delanie Sheehan and M Viviana Villacorta), three from Virginia (G Laurel Ivory, F Alexa Spaanstra and F Taryn Torres) and two from Stanford (D Samantha Hiatt and D Kiara Pickett) and USC (D Tara McKeown and M Savannah DeMelo).
The U.S. U-20 WNT has gone 6-0-4 this year in international matches with nine different players having scored, led by Smith, the 2017 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, who has seven goals and 15 in her U-20 career. DeMelo, Howell and forward Abigail Kim from UC Berkeley and Stanford striker Civanna Kuhlmann (who is injured) have each scored twice.
The USA was drawn into Group C at the upcoming World Cup and opens the tournament on Monday, Aug. 6 against Japan (1:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. local), faces Paraguay on Thursday, Aug. 9 (1:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. local) and finishes the group against Spain on Monday, Aug. 13 (7:30 a.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. local). The USA will play its first two group games at Stade Guy-Piriou in Concarneau and its third group game at Stade du Clos Gastel in Dinan/Léhon.
The 16-team field for the tournament is a strong one, featuring Mexico, the USA, Haiti, host France, England, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, Paraguay, China PR, Japan, Korea PRK and New Zealand. The USA has won the tournament three times (2002, 2008, 2012), as has Germany (2004, 2010, 2014), while Korea DPR has won it twice, in 2006 and most recently in 2016.
DEFENDERS (7): Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC; San Jose, Calif.), Samantha Hiatt (Stanford; Newcastle, Wash.), Tara McKeown (USC; Newbury Park, Calif.), Zoe Morse (Virginia; East Lansing, Mich.), Kiara Pickett (Stanford; Santa Barbara, Calif.), Isabel Rodriguez (Ohio State; Canton, Mich.), Karina Rodriguez (UCLA; Torrance, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Savannah DeMelo (USC; Bellflower, Calif.), Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat; Durham, N.C.), Delanie Sheehan (UCLA; Brentwood, Calif.), Viviana Villacorta (UCLA; Lawndale, Calif.), Natalie Winters (Iowa; Plymouth, Mich.)
FORWARDS (7): Erin Gilroy (Tennessee; Bellmore, N.Y.), Penelope Hocking (So Cal Blues; Anaheim, Calif.), Abigail Kim (California; Vashon, Wash.), Ashley Sanchez (UCLA; Monrovia, Calif.), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Alexa Spaanstra (Virginia; Brighton, Mich.), Taryn Torres (Virginia; Frisco, Texas)