Commentary

Historic game against Iran awaits U.S. U-16 girls

By Mike Woitalla
@MikeWoitalla

The U.S. U-16 girls national team, at the 1st International Women's Tournament of Gradisca in Italy April 19-29, will play Iran, marking the first U.S. women’s national team game at any age level against a Middle East nation.

The USA will compete against older teams of players born in 1999, the age cut-off year for the 2016 U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan Sept. 30-Oct. 21. Jordan, which qualified as host, will become the first Middle East nation to take part in a women's World Cup at any level. (The U.S. U-17 World Cup-bound team is holding a training camp in Carson, Calif.)

Iran failed to qualify for the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup but finished atop its qualifying group in 2015 AFC U-16 Championship, going undefeated in four games, which included a 6-1 win over Jordan. In the final round of qualifying for the World Cup, Iran lost to Thailand, China and South Korea. China, along with Japan, earned Asia's spots at the 2016 U-17 World Cup.

U.S. U-18 men’s national team head coach Omid Namazi, who was born in the USA to Iranian parents and spent much of his youth in Iran, coached Iranian club Steel Azin in 2010 and served assistant coach of the men’s team from 2011 through its successful qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

“I’ve been away for almost three years now but I know they constantly try to improve the soccer on the girls side,” says Namazi. “Their futsal team does well in Asia. Iran won the Asian futsal championship [last year]. They have to deal with the clothing that they have to wear. That’s a challenge always. But I think they’ve come to a point where it’s been accepted and now the girls are doing well."

The Iranian girls and women must play with headscarves, long-sleeves and long pants in accordance with Islamic dress code.

Iran's women's team was disqualified from 2012 Olympic qualifying after being forced to forfeit because of FIFA's ban on headscarves -- the Iranians refusing to remove their hijabs before kickoff of a second-round qualifying game in 2011 against Jordan.

FIFA lifted the ban on hijabs in 2012.

U.S. coach Tricia Taliaferro  named a 20-player roster, comprised of 17 players born in 2000, two in 2001 and one in 2002, for the Gradisca tournament.

Taliaferro’s team will face host Italy (April 25) and Iran (April 26) in Group A in the six-team tournament. Group B is comprised of France, Mexico and England. The top finishers in each group will meet in the final, while the second-place finishers and third-place finishers will meet for third place and fifth place.

U.S. U-16 girls national team
GOALKEEPERS (2): Hensley Hancuff (Oklahoma FC; Edmond, Okla.), Katie Meyer (Eagles SC; Newbury Park, Calif.).
DEFENDERS (8): Maycee Bell (Sporting KC Blue Valley; Wichita, Kan.), Madelyn Desiano (So Cal Blues; San Clemente, Calif.), Sierra Enge (Carlsbad Elite; Cardiff, Calif.), Shae Holmes (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Brianna Martinez (New Mexico Rush; Albuquerque, N.M.), Kylie Minamishin (Honolulu Bulls; Miliani, Hawaii), Makenna Morris (Bethesda Tempo; Germantown, Md.), Sarah Piper (Texas Rush; The Woodlands, Texas).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Croix Bethune (Concord Fire; Alpharetta, Ga.), Coriana Dyke (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Nohemi Mendoza (Heat FC; Las Vegas, Nev.), Jenna Nighswonger (Slammers FC; Huntington Beach, Calif.), Madeline Vergura (FC Stars; Concord, Mass.), Summer Yates (Pac NW; Pasco, Wash.).
FORWARDS (4): Lia Godfrey (JFC Storm; Fleming Island, Fla.), Rebecca Jarrett (World Class; Washington Township, N.J.), Emaly Vatne (Michigan Hawks; Sterling Heights, Mich.), Olivia Wingate (FC Stars; Wilmington, Mass.).

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Northern Californians well represented on U.S. U-18 women's squad

California, the USA's largest state with a population of 39 million, is frequently the best represented state on U.S. youth national teams rosters. The majority of Californian players chosen tend to hail from Southern California, but the 26-player roster called in by Coach April Heinrichs for the U.S. U-18 women's national team training camp April 16-23 in Carson, California, includes seven Northern Californians and three Southern Californians.

Heinrichs' roster is comprised of three collegians -- Sabrina Flores (Notre Dame), Taylor Hallmon (Florida State) and Taylor Ziemer (Virginia) -- and 23 players still in youth ball. The U-18s are reconvening after a March tournament in Spain where they beat the U-19 national teams of England (1-0) and Norway (1-0) and tied Denmark (0-0). Abi Kim of Washington club Pacific NW SC scored the gamewinners.

States represented on 26-player roster:
10 California.
2 Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Washington.
1 Colorado, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma.

U.S. U-18 women’s national team
GOALKEEPERS (4): Brooke Heinsohn (New England FC; Norfolk, Mass.), Amanda McGlynn (Jacksonville United; Jacksonville, Fla.), Madison Newsom (FC Elk Grove; Elk Grove, Calif.), Olivia Sekany (Pleasanton Rage; Livermore, Calif.).
DEFENDERS (9): Julie Doyle (San Diego Surf; Laguna Nigel, Calif.), Sabrina Flores (Notre Dame; Livingston, N.J.), Taylor Hallmon (Florida State; Panama City, Fla.), Samantha Hiatt (Crossfire SC; Newcastle, Wash.), Julie Mackin (Real Colorado; Castle Rock, Colo.), Kaiya McCullough (San Diego Surf; Mission Viejo, Calif.), Taylor Mitchell (Real So Cal; Tarzana, Calif.), Zoe Morse (Michigan Hawks; East Lansing, Mich.), Natalie Winters (Michigan Hawks; Plymouth, Mich.).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Olivia Athens (PSV Union FC; Atherton, Calif.), Caroline Clark (Lamarinda United; Lafayette, Calif.), Samantha Coffey (New York SC; Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.), Tierna Davidson (De Anza Force; Menlo Park, Calif.), Arlie Jones (San Diego Surf; Las Vegas, Nev.), Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Surf; Henderson, Nev.).
FORWARDS (7): Malia Berkley (Fairfield Optimist SC; Liberty Township, Ohio), Cecila Gee (Lamarinda United; Orinda, Calif.), Erin Gilroy (East Meadow Soccer Club; North Bellmore, N.Y.), Parker Goins (TSC Hurricane; Broken Arrow, Okla.), Abi Kim (Pacific NW Soccer Club; Vashon, Wash.), Olivia Vaughn (Match Fit; Montclair, N.J.), Taylor Ziemer (Virginia; Santa Rosa, Calif.)


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U.S. U-17 girls start prepping for World Cup

The U.S. U-17 girls national team convenes for the first time since March, when it qualified for the 2016 U-17 Women's World Cup in Jordan, at a April 16-23 training camp in Carson, California.

Coach B.J. Snow has named a 26-player roster that includes 18 players who participated in the Concacaf Championship in Grenada at which the USA finished first.

Missing from the team that routed Canada, 5-1, in the semifinals to clinch a World Cup spot and beat Mexico, 2-1, in the final are defender Kennedy Wesley (knee injury) and Golden Ball winner Ashley Sanchez, who was part of the full national team roster for games against Colombia earlier this month and who will also be seeing action with the U-20 national team.

U.S. U-17 girls national team roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Hillary Beall (So Cal Blues; Laguna Beach, Calif.), Laurel Ivory (Sunrise Sting; Surfside, Fla.).
DEFENDERS (11): Sydney Collins (FC Portland; Beaverton, Ore.), Naomi Girma (Central Valley Crossfire; San Jose, Calif.), Joanna Harber (Eastside FC; Bellevue, Wash.), Tara McKeown (Eagles SC; Newbury Park, Calif.), Aideen O'Donoghue (Pittsburgh Riverhounds; Canonsburg, Pa.), 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.), Kate Wiesner (Slammers FC; Monrovia, Calif.).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Ryanne Brown (Indiana Fire; Indianapolis, Ind.), Mikayla Colohan (La Roca FC; Fruit Heights, Utah), Jaelin Howell (Real CO; Windsor, Colo.), Brianna Pinto (CASL; Durham, N.C.), Frankie Tagliaferri (PDA; Colts Neck, N.J.), Taryn Torres (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas).
FORWARDS (8): Jordan Canniff (Richmond United; California, Md.), Jasmyne Dunn (Granite Bay FC; Citrus Heights, Calif.), Wrenne French (Tennessee SC; Franklin, Tenn.), Rachel Jones (Tophat; Lawrenceville, Ga.), Civana Kuhlmann (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Adrienne Richardson (Minnesota Thunder Academy; Oakdale, Minn.), Sophie Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.), Alexa Spaanstra (Michigan Hawks; Brighton, Mich.).

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Carr names 24 to U.S. U-15 girls national team

Coach Mark Carr  has called in 24 players for a U.S. U-15 girls national team (2001s) camp in Chula Vista, California, April 16-24. This age group is what will form the core of the team that will attempt to qualify for the 2018 U-17 Women’s World Cup.

U.S. U-15 girls national team
GOALKEEPERS (3): Julia Dohle (NYSC; Scarsdale, N.Y.), Marzia Josephson (CASL; Apex, NC), Lindsey Romig (Richmond United ECNL; Midlothian, Va.).
DEFENDERS (6): D'awncey Jones-Black (Honolulu Bulls FC; Ewa Beach, Hawaii), Nicole Payne (Condorde Fire; Birmingham, Ala.), Alexandra Russell (Albion Hurricanes; Katy, Texas), Natalia Staude (Tophat SC; Marietta, Ga.), Harper White (Tennessee Soccer Club; Franklin, Tenn.) Leah Scarpelli (PDA; Brick, N.J.).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Ainsley Ahmadian (Galaxy SC; Naperville, Ill.), Hannah Bebar (Galaxy SC; Naperville, Ill.), Julia Burnell (Penn Fusion; Glen Mills, Pa.), Mia Fishel (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Eleanor Glenn (Tophat SC; Avondale Estates, Ga.), Madison Mercado (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Hollyn Torres (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas).
FORWARDS (8): Vanessa Buso (Legends FC; Corona, Calif.), Talia DellaPeruta (Tophat SC; Cumming, Ga.), Sunshine Fontes (Honolulu Bulls FC; Wahiawa, Hawaii), Savianna Gomez (Beach Academy; Torrance, Calif.), Payton Linnehan (FC Stars of Mass; Douglas, Mass.), Samantha Meza (Dallas Kicks; Balch Springs, Texas), Kalyssa Van Zanten (Eclipse Select FC; Buffalo Grove, Ill.), Gabrielle Robinson (BRYSC; Springfield, Va.).

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ECNL adds five clubs

The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL), the girls league currently comprised of 79 clubs, has added five new clubs for the 2016-17 season: Boston Breakers Academy, Seattle Reign Academy, Tampa Bay United, Western New York Flash Academy and Florida's Weston FC.

The Breakers, Seattle Reign and Western New York are affiliated with pro NWSL clubs.

“We are incredibly excited to announce multiple-year commitments from each of the new clubs joining the ECNL this fall, and know that each one will be great members and supporters of the league,” said ECNL President Christian Lavers in a press release.  “Weston and Tampa Bay United will be great additions to the Southeast Conference, and there will be incredible synergies created through the collaboration between the ECNL and the NWSL clubs.”

In the 2016-2017 season, each ECNL club will compete in five age groups (U-14, U-15, U-16, U-17, and U-18/19) in regular season conference competition and ECNL National Events.

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