Will the third time be a charm for the U.S. women’s national team program in 2016?
After the USA exited last summer's Olympics in Brazil in the quarterfinals, ending a streak of three straight gold medals, the USA was eliminated in group play of the U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan. Now it’s the U.S. U-20 women’s turn, at the U-20 Women’s World Cup (Nov. 13-Dec. 3) in Papua New Guinea -- and for two players the tourney will mark their second world championship of the year.
The 18-year-old Mallory Pugh played three games and scored once at the Olympics. The Colorado product played in the 2014 U-20 World Cup, at which the USA fell in the quarterfinals on PKs to North Korea, and is age eligible for the 2018 U-20 World Cup. Ashley Sanchez, 17, captained the U-17s in Jordan, where she scored three goals. Sanchez, the youngest player on Coach Michelle French’s roster, scored three goals, including the championship gamewinner, and had five assists at the Concacaf U-20 qualifying tournament.
The USA opens against France on Monday before facing Ghana and New Zealand in Group C.
USA Group C Schedule
Monday, Nov. 14
USA-France (1 am ET FS1, NBC Universo -- PT airs on delay at 3 am)
Thursday, Nov. 17
USA-New Zealand (4 am ET, FS1, NBC Universo)
Monday, Nov. 21
USA-Ghana (1 am ET, FS1, NBC Universo -- PT airs on delay at 3 am)
Of the USA's first-round opponents, only France has reached the semifinals, finishing third in 2014 and fourth in 2008. Ghana has qualified for the last three U-20 World Cups and failed to reach the knockout stage. New Zealand reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 tournament after exiting in the first round of its previous four appearances.
U-20 Women's World Cup History
2002: Champion USA. 2nd Canada. 3rd Germany. 4th Brazil (Host: Canada)
2004: Champion Germany. 2nd China. 3rd USA. 4th Brazil. (Host: Thailand)
2006: Champion North Korea. 2nd China. 3rd Brazil. 4th USA (Host: Russia)
2008: Champion USA. 2nd North Korea. 3rd Germany. 4th France. (Host: Chile)
2010: Champion Germany. 2nd Nigeria. 3rd South Korea. 4th Colombia. (Host: Germany)
2012: Champion USA. 2nd Germany. 3rd Japan. 4th Nigeria. (Host: Japan)
2014: Champion Germany. 2nd Nigeria. 3rd France. 4th North Korea. (Host: Canada)
U.S. U-20 Women's World Cup History
Year U.S. finish (U.S. coach)
2002 Champion (Tracey Leone)
2004 Third place (Mark Krikorian)
2006 Fourth Place (Tim Schulz)
2008 Champion (Tony DiCicco)
2010 Quarterfinals (Jill Ellis)
2012 Champion (Steve Swanson)
2014 Quarterfinals (Michelle French)
Players born on or after Jan. 1, 1996, are eligible for the 2016 U-20 World Cup. The U.S. roster is comprised of eight 1996s, eight 1997s, four 1998s and one 1999.
U.S. U-20 Women's World Cup team
GOALKEEPERS (3): Rose Chandler (Penn State; Atlanta, Ga.), Brooke Heinsohn (New England FC; Norfolk, Mass.), Casey Murphy (Rutgers; Bridgewater, N.J.).
DEFENDERS (7): Madeline Elliston (Penn State; Omaha, Neb.), Emily Fox (FC Virginia; Ashburn, Va.), Sabrina Flores (Notre Dame; Livingston, N.J.), Ellie Jean (Penn State; Coventry, Conn.), Natalie Jacobs (Notre Dame; Coto de Caza, Calif.), Taylor Otto (North Carolina; Apex, N.C.), Kaleigh Riehl (Penn State; Fairfax Station, Va.).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Marley Canales (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Katie Cousins (Tennessee; Forest, Va.), Savannah DeMelo (Beach FC; Bellflower, Calif.), Kelcie Hedge (Washington; Post Falls, Idaho), Emily Ogle (Penn State; Strongsville, Ohio), Courtney Petersen (Virginia; Canton, Mich.), Parker Roberts (Florida; Leawood, Kansas).
FORWARDS (4): Ashley Sanchez (So Cal Blues: Monrovia, Calif.), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Jessie Scarpa (North Carolina; Lakeland, Fla.), Ally Watt (Texas A&M; Colorado Springs, Colo.).
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.
2016 U-20 Women's World Cup: Complete Schedule