Three 14-year-olds picked for U.S. quest to reach U-17 Women's World Cup

By Mike Woitalla

Seven Californians were named by Coach B.J. Snow to the USA's 20-player roster for the 2016 Concacaf U-17 Women's Championship in Grenada March 3-13. The tournament will determine the region’s three qualifiers for the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup in Jordan Sept. 30-Oct. 21.

The squad is comprised of 12 players born in 1999, the cutoff year for the tournament, five 2000s and three 14-year-olds born in 2001. The 14-year-olds on the roster are forward Jordan Canniff and defenders Kate Wiesner and Kennedy Wesley.

U.S. U-17 girls national team roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brooke Bollinger (Space Coast United; Melbourne, Fla.), Laurel Ivory (Sunrise Sting; Surfside, Fla.).
DEFENDERS (7): Naomi Girma (Central Valley Crossfire; San Jose, Calif.), Kiara Pickett (Eagles SC; Santa Barbara, Calif.), Izzy Rodriguez (Michigan Hawks; Canton, Mich.), Karina Rodriguez (So Cal Blues; Torrance, Calif.), Emily Smith (De Anza Force; Los Gatos, Calif.), Kennedy Wesley (So Cal Blues; Rossmoor, Calif.), Kate Wiesner (Slammers FC; Monrovia, Calif.).
MIDFIELDERS (5): Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Brianna Pinto (CASL; Durham, N.C.), Frankie Tagliaferri (PDA; Colt Neck, N.J.), Taryn Torres (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Sydney Zandi (Penn Fusion; West Chester, Pa.).
FORWARDS (6): Jordan Canniff (Richmond United; California, Md.), Rachel Jones (Tophat; Lawrenceville, Ga.), Civana Kuhlmann (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Ashley Sanchez (So Cal Blues; Monrovia, Calif.), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Alexa Spaanstra (Michigan Hawks; Brighton, Mich.)

"The main focus for our U-17 national team is to evaluate and develop players that have the potential to navigate through our youth national team system and it's critical that we always keep this mindset at the forefront of our philosophy," said Snow. "At the same time, we never want to lose sight of the tradition of winning and the standards that have been created by those that have preceded us.

“At this level there is always a fine line in the selection process of deciding who gives us the best chance of winning now vs. those players who have the best chance of moving forward with our national teams. With this current roster, we feel we have identified a group of young players that gives us the balance of being able to compete with the top teams in the world now but who also possess the potential to be the future of U.S. women's soccer."

Of the Californians on the roster, five of the seven hail from Southern California.

States represented on 20-player roster:
7 California.
3 Colorado.
2 Florida, Michigan.
1 Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas.

Two players on the roster played for the U.S. U-20s when they finished first at December's qualifying tournament for the 2016 U-20 World Cup: defender Kiara Pickett and and forward Ashley Sanchez, who notched five assists and scored three goals, including the gamewinner in the USA's 1-0 final win over Canada.

The USA will face Mexico, Jamaica and Costa Rica in Group B play. Group A consists of Grenada, Guatemala, Canada and Haiti.

After group play, the top two finishers in each group will cross over for the semifinals with the winners of those games, along the winner of the third-place game, earning berths to the World Cup.

The USA, while also coached by Snow, failed to qualify for the 2014 U-17 World Cup when they finished third in the qualifying tournament behind runner-up Canada and champion Mexico, which beat the USA in a penalty-kick tiebreaker after their scoreless semifinal. Because Concacaf’s Costa Rica hosted that world championship, only two teams advanced from the qualifying tourney.

2016 Concacaf U-17 Women's Championship
USA Group B Schedule
March 4
USA vs. Jamaica
March 6
USA vs. Mexico
March 8
USA vs. Costa Rica  

Snow will bring this roster to the four-team 2016 U-17 Women's NTC Invitational Feb 11-15 in Carson, Calif., where the USA will face Japan, South Korea and England.

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