U-20 USWNT: Forwards (CONCACAF 2012)

The U-20 USWNT has six forwards listed on its 20-player roster for the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship in Panama: Oregon’s own Micaela Capelle of Portland; record-breaking Maya Hayes of Penn State; Golden (Colorado) girl Lindsay Horan, a high school senior who has officially committed to UNC; speedy scoring threat Kealia Ohai of UNC; ACC leading scorer two years running, Katie Stengel of Wake Forest; and triple passport-holder Chioma Ubogagu of Stanford.

Micaela Capelle
D.O.B. / Age: 28-Jun-1992 / 19.7
Height: 5’4″
College/Club: Portland
Hometown: Gresham, Oregon
Past YNT Championships: n/a
U-20 Position: Forward (wing, probably)
Notables: Had 8 goals, including 5 game-winners as a freshman in 2010. First call up in any YNT camp was last July (2011).
Quote: “Micaela is another great athlete that brings flair and creativity to the game.” “She creates many scoring opportunities for herself and teammates.” — Portland coach Garrett Smith (February, 2010)
Starter or Sub: Sub.

Maya Hayes
D.O.B. / Age: 26-Mar-1992 / 19.9
Height: 5’7″
College/Club: Penn State
Hometown: West Orange, New Jersey
Past YNT Championships 2010 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 (4 matches),  2010 FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup (4 matches)
U-20 Position: Forward (either center or wing)
Notables: Led the NCAA with 31 goals last fall as a Sophomore. Also had 8 assists. MAC Hermann Trophy finalist in 2011. Also played high school basketball for four years.
Quote: “Maya is a rare mix of true athleticism and skill. She is one of the best attacking players in the country right now and is an incredible athlete, but also has a good soccer brain.” — Penn State coach Erica Walsh (2010)
Starter or Sub:  Sub.

Lindsey Horan
D.O.B. / Age: 26-May-1994 / 17.8
Height: 5’10”
College/Club: Colorado Rush ECNL and W-League (committed to UNC)
Hometown: Golden, Colorado
Past YNT Championships2010 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 (5 matches)
U-20 Position: Forward (center, most likely).
Notables: Scored 8 goals at 2010 CONCACAF Women’s U-17 Championship. Trained with Olympique Lyonnais last summer. Instead of playing spring high school soccer, has trained and competed with one of her club’s boys teams. Also has club experience as a midfielder.
Quote: “She has a true passion for the game. She loves the game like nobody (else). Her goal is not to be a U-16 or U-17 national pool player or the best in the country at this age. It’s to be the best in the country or the best in the world. So she’s not satisfied, and neither are we.” — Rush president and CEO Tim Schulz.
Starter or Sub: Starter.

Kealia Ohai
D.O.B. / Age: 31-Jan-1992 / 20.1
Height: 5’5″
College/Club: UNC
Hometown: Draper, Utah
Past YNT Championships
U-20 Position: Forward (wing, most likely).
Notables: Had 14 goals and 9 assists as a freshman in 2010. Gatorade Girls Soccer Player of the Year for Utah in 2008 and 2009. Has a sister, Megan, who played at USC (2007-2010). Father is from Hawaii. Got a 12.39″ time in the 100m dash as a freshman in high school.
Quote: “She was the closest thing I’d ever seen to Mia.” “She doesn’t dribble around people, she goes right through them… That was a quality Mia had that made her so special.” — UNC Head Coach and former USWNT head coach Anson Dorrance (October, 2010)
Starter or Sub: Starter.

Katie Stengel
D.O.B. / Age: 29-Feb-1992 / 20.0
Height: 5’8″
College/Club: Wake Forest
Hometown: Melbourne, Florida
Past YNT Championships
U-20 Position: Forward,
Notables: 2011 ACC Offensive Player of the Year. Had 19 goals and 8 assists as a sophomore.Had 16 goals and 5 assists as a freshman. First player since UNC’s Mia Hamm (1992,1993) to lead the ACC in goal-scoring two years in a row. Had a knee injury in 2011 which kept her out of a few ACC matches.
Quote: “I think I described her a couple of times this week she’s a sniper in the box. What amazes me, when you look at forwards, and sometimes forwards need a high number of opportunities to score goals. She doesn’t need that. She’ll get one chance or two chances and she’ll bury them.” — Duke head coach Robbie Church (December, 2011)
Starter or Sub: Toss up, but probably a Starter.

Chioma Ubogagu
D.O.B. / Age: 10-Sep-1992 / 19.5
Height: 5’6″
College/Club: Stanford
Hometown: Coppell, Texas
Past YNT Championships:
U-20 Position: Forward (wing, most likely).
Notables: 2010 Gatorade Texas Girls High School Soccer Player of the Year. Grandfather played for Nigeria’s MNT and Tottenham Hotspurs (John Chiedozie?). Apparently has triple citizenship (USA, naturalized; English; Nigerian).
Quote: “She is really a special player… She is a big time player. It seems like in the big game she steps forward. Tonight you saw it again in the first two goals, when she scored one and created the other one.”  — Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe
Starter or Sub: Toss up, but probably a Sub.

* * *

Up top, at least two of the three forward positions are a virtual lock, with Lindsay Horan and Kealia Ohai claiming those spots. Horan scored four goals at La Manga and led the U-17 WNT in scoring at their age-groups CONCACAF Championship in 2010. She also scored 8 goals in 10 matches this summer in the USL’s W-League. Ohai had a stellar freshman debut under Anson Dorrance, but her sophomore year was statistically quieter (as was much of her team’s). However, she had three goals at La Manga, including the second goal against Switzerland and the winner against Norway.

For the final forward spot, I expect Stengel to be the starter, although Ubogagu could work herself into the starting line-up during the Championship. Although Stengel did not score at La Manga, she did start all three matches and has been experience going for her: Two years of NCAA soccer, plus she has been in the U-20 camp more often than Ubogagu this cycle.

Ubogagu seems the most likely candidate to be the “super-sub” forward, who could come in relatively early (60′ to 70′) and help close out a match. Or, she could be used to rest another forward, such as Ohai or Stengel. If Mexico had been the first group stage match, then I would probably lean to starting Ubogagu, based on her performance at La Manga (two goals and at least one assist). In other words,

Hayes and Capelle had the least minutes at La Manga, and will most likely be used off the bench. Of the two, Hayes has the best chance to be used in order to rest a fellow attacker for a match or come in as a late substitution. Capelle likely has the most to prove, as she was probably the last forward added to this roster. (And, her spot was only available due to Duke forward Kelly Cobb injuring her ankle last fall and having surgery on that last month. Cobb should be healthy by the summer and, should the USA qualify for Japan, would likely have a lock on one of the roster spots. Cobb would also have a strong shot at being a starter, especially as a left wing forward, where she would pair up on the outside with another Duke forward, Pathman, who plays left outside-back for the U-20 WNT.)

At La Manga, the top of the formation had the most variation in line-up over the three matches. That trend will likely continue in Panama, especially if a particular player surprises Swanson with a scoring binge.

As to where the three starting forwards will play in the formation, I expect Horan, as the tallest, to play in the middle. Although, Swanson could go with experience and put Stengel in the middle. Ohai will probably be placed on the wing, which will allow her room for creativity. And, of course, the players could switch around for tactical reasons.

Verdict: The starting forwards will be Horan, Stengel, and Ohai.

Next Up: Conclusion

This Series: (1) Intro(2) Goalkeepers(3) Defenders(4) Midfielders; (5) Forwards; and (6) Conclusion.