USA sends young squad to qualifiers for U-20 Women's World Cup

By Mike Woitalla

The 20-player squad named by Coach Michelle French for the U-20 Women's World Cup Concacaf qualifying tournament that begins Thursday in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, includes 12 pre-college players and eight young enough to be eligible for the 2016 U-20 Women's World Cup as well as the 2018 edition.

The roster ranges across four birth years, 1996-1999. (The cutoff for the 2016 U-20 Women's World Cup is Jan. 1, 1996).

Southern California 16-year-old defender Kiara Pickett is the youngest member of the squad. Pickett, who plays for Camarillo-based Eagles SC, is one of two players on the squad also eligible for the U.S. team aiming to qualify for the 2016 U-17 World Cup. The other is SoCal Blues' forward Ashley Sanchez, who scored all four goals in the U.S. U-20s' 4-1 win over Rayo Vallecano of Spain's women's La Liga in October.

The squad's most highly touted player is 17-year-old forward Mallory Pugh of Real Colorado. Pugh, who played in all four games of the USA’s quarterfinal run at the 2014 U-20 Women's World Cup, is also eligible for the 2018 U-20 Women's World Cup. (The 19-year-old Rose Chandler, a backup keeper in 2014, is the current squad's other returnee from the previous U-20 World Cup.)

Mallory Pugh with the 2014-15 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year award.
(Photo by Susan Goldman courtesy of Gatorade).

"While finalizing the roster for this qualifying competition posed different challenges due to the college season, we are very happy with the players we have named to the roster," said French. "We have a great mix of talent, sophistication, and athleticism at every position. The group is comprised of players with experience in Concacaf competitions, as well as quite a few who will be playing matches of this magnitude for the first time. As a result, we are looking forward to watching the team grow during the tournament.”

The USA faces Mexico on Friday, then plays Panama and Haiti in Group B play. Group A is comprised of host Honduras, Canada, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica. The top two finishers in each group advance to the semifinals. The semifinal winners and the third-place game winner earn berths to the 2016 U-20 Women's World Cup in Papua New Guinea.

2015 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship USA games
Dec. 4 USA-Mexico 8:30 pm ET (FOX Sports 2)
Dec. 6 USA-Panama 8:30 pm ET (FOX Soccer Plus)
Dec. 8 USA-Haiti 8:30 pm ET (FOX Soccer Plus)
Both semifinals (Dec. 11 at 6 and 9 p.m. ET), the third-place game (Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. ET) and the final (Dec. 13 at 9 p.m. ET) will air on FOX Sports 2.

U.S. U-20 women’s national team
GOALKEEPERS (2): Rose Chandler (Penn State; Atlanta, Ga.), Brooke Heinsohn* (New England FC; Norfolk, Mass.).
DEFENDERS (7): Tierna Davidson* (De Anza Force; Menlo Park; Calif.), Sabrina Flores (Notre Dame; Livingston, N.J.), Emily Fox* (FC Virginia; Ashburn, Va.), Shannon Horgan (Clemson; Long Beach, N.Y.), Natalie Jacobs (Notre Dame; Coto de Caza; Calif.), Taylor Otto (CASL; Apex, N.C.), Kiara Pickett* (Eagles; Santa Barbara, Calif.).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Marley Canales (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Savannah DeMelo* (Beach FC; Bellflower, Calif.), Jordan Harr* (Dallas Sting; Sachse, Texas), Mikaela Harvey (Texas A&M; Liberty Hill, Texas), Kelcie Hedge (Washington; Post Falls, Idaho), Parker Roberts (Kansas; Leawood, Kan.), Ella Stevens (GSA; Grayson, Ga.).
FORWARDS (4): Mallory Pugh* (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zoe Redei (Eclipse SC; Highland Park, Ill.), Ashley Sanchez* (SoCal Blues; Monrovia, Calif.), Jessie Scarpa (UNC; Lakeland, Fla.).
* Also eligible for the 2018 U-20 Women's World Cup.

The USA has qualified for all seven previous U-20 Women's World Cups

Year U.S. finish (U.S. coach)
2014 Quarterfinals (Michelle French)
2012 Champion (Steve Swanson)
2010 Quarterfinals (Jill Ellis)
2008 Champion (Tony DiCicco)
2006 Fourth Place (Tim Schulz)
2004 Third place (Mark Krikorian)
2002 Champion (Tracey Leone)

Fifteen members of the U.S. squad that won the 2015 Women’s World Cup had U-20 World Cup experience:
Morgan Brian (2012)
Julie Johnston (2012)
Sydney Leroux (*2004, 2008, 2010)
Meghan Klingenberg (2008)
Alex Morgan (2008)
Alyssa Naeher (2008)
Amy Rodriguez (2004, 2006)
Tobin Heath (2006)
Lauren Holiday (2006)
Kelley O’Hara (2006)
Ashlyn Harris (2002, 2004)
Megan Rapinoe (2004)
Becky Sauerbrunn (2004)
Lori Chalupny (2002)
Heather O’Reilly (2002)
* Leroux played for Canada at age 14 at the 2004 U-20 World Cup before switching to the USA.

USA to face Brazil, England and the Dutch at Nike Friendlies

The 12th edition of the Nike International Friendlies, the annual year-end tournament for the age group that will ultimately aim for the U-17 World Cup, will see the USA face the Brazil, England and the Netherlands in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

This year’s tourney features the new cycle of U-17s -- players born in 2000, currently U-15s. They're beginning the process toward the 2017 U-17 World Cup that will be hosted by India.

The USA exited in the first round of the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile under Coach Richie Williams. U.S. U-15 coach John Hackworth is in charge of the Nike Friendlies' squad.

Coinciding with the Nike Friendlies in Lakewood is the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase. The national team games and two of the Development Academy games will be streamed live on and U.S. Soccer's YouTube page.

2015 Nike International Friendlies/DA Winter Showcase Viewing Schedule
Wednesday, Dec. 2
Netherlands vs. Brazil, 3 p.m. ET
USA vs. England, 6 p.m. ET
Thursday, Dec. 3
BW Gottschee U-17/18 vs. Chargers Soccer Club U-17/18, 3 p.m. ET
Friday, Dec. 4
Brazil vs. England, 3 p.m. ET
USA s. Netherlands, 6 p.m. ET
Saturday, Dec. 5
Philadelphia Union U-15/16 vs. LA Galaxy U-15/16, 3 p.m. ET
Sunday, Dec. 6
England vs. Netherlands, 3 p.m. ET
USA vs. Brazil, 6 p.m. ET

U.S. under-15 boys national team roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Alexander Budnik (Sockers FC; Arlington Heights, Ill.), Carlos Dos Santos (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Justin Garces (Kendall FC; Miami, Fla.).
DEFENDERS (7): Jake Arteaga (LA Galaxy, Glendora, Calif.), Kelee Cornfield-Saunders (LA Galaxy; San Marcos, Calif.), Christopher Durkin (D.C. United; Glen Allen, Va.), Jaylin Lindsey (Sporting Kansas City; Charlotte, N.C.), Rayshaun McGann (Philadelphia Union; Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Bryan Perez (LA Premier FC; Los Angeles, Calif.), Chandler Vaughn (D.C. United; Woodbridge, Va.).
MIDFIELDERS (7): George Acosta (Weston FC; Hollywood, Fla.), Andrew Carleton (Georgia United; Powder Springs, Ga.), Blaine Ferri (Solar; Southlake, Texas), Christopher Goslin (Georgia United; Locust Grove, Ga.), James Sands (New York Soccer Club; Rye, N.Y.), Arturo Vasquez (FC Golden State; Mira Loma, Calif.), Adrian Villegas (Portland Timbers; Hood River, Ore.).
FORWARDS (4): Ayomide Akinola (Toronto FC; Brampton, Ont.), Joshua Sargent (Scott Gallagher Missouri; O’Fallen, Mo.), Tonny Temple (IMG Academy; Millville, Pa.), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain F.C.; Rosedale, N.Y.).
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