The U-20 USWNT takes to the field this Friday, in Panama. But, who will start for the United States? That is the guessing game that die-hard fans will be playing until about an hour before kick-off, which is when the actual roster has to be submitted to a match official.
This series of articles is my best educated guess about who will be the go-to starters for the USA in the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship.
But first, some caveats…
Disclaimer: Predicting a starting line-up is never full-proof, especially at the youth level, and especially on the women’s side. The main challenge is limited information due to a lack of current U-20 WNT match videos, a lack of detailed match reports, the lack of quotes from coaches and players, and so on. Also, players get moved around into different positions. For example, Mollie Pathman plays forward at Duke, but with the national team, she is a left outside-back.
Also, this is not a wishlist-type starting line-up, but an expected actual line-up based on the players’ recent performance at La Manga along with educated guess about the preferences of the team’s coach, Steve Swanson, based on these players’ on-field minutes at La Manga. Age, experience, and recent non-international performance are also considered, but those are lesser factors. And, with the lack of information, especially match video, it is nearly impossible to judge intangibles like on-field chemistry.
Formation: For the U-20 friendlies in La Manga this month, the basic line-up appeared to be a 4-3-3 (4 defenders, 3 midfielders, and 3 forwards). This formation has two main variations, based on the roles of the midfielders. The more typical 4-3-3 formation has one holding center-midfielder with two attacking center-midfielders. But, the formation could also have two holding midfielders with just one attacking midfielder. This two holding midfielder formation was used by the U-23 WNT in La Manga, at least for the match against Sweden. However, without more information about the U-20’s formation, I will assume a typical 4-3-3 formation with one holding midfielder. Also, situational factors and tactics that may impact the actual shape of the formation are, for the most part, beyond the subject of my discussion.
Next Up: Goalkeepers
This Series: (1) Intro; (2) Goalkeepers; (3) Defenders; (4) Midfielders; (5) Forwards; and (6) Conclusion.
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Legend/Key for the player profiles:
D.O.B. / Age: The age listed is the player’s age at the start of the tournament (March 1st) in decimal form, to the nearest one-tenth.
Height: I have tried to use the most generous (e.g. highest) height I could find.
College/Club: College or club team names that are hyperlinked either go to the player’s bio page or a news announcement about the player. If a player in still in high school, I have listed their committed school and noted whether it is a verbal or not.
Hometown: Taken from either their college or US Soccer bio page.
Past YNT Championships: If a player has been on the final roster for a major international youth tournament (i.e., a CONCACAF Women’s U-xx Championship or FIFA Women’s U-xx World Cup), those will be listed.
U-20 Position: For field players, my best guess as to what position the player will have in a 4-3-3 formation (one holding midfielder).
Notables: Major awards, noteworthy on-field performances, etc. Many of these players have a laundry list of accomplishments, so only a few representative awards will be mentioned.
Quote: Something insightful said about the player, typically by a coach.
Starter or Sub: My take on whether the player will be a go-to starter or a sub.