U-20 USWNT: CONCACAF Championship Playing Time (Group Stage)

After watching the first three USA group stage matches in the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship, where head coach Steve Swanson has generously employed his full roster, I was curious to see how his use of his roster compares to past U-20 USWNT coaches in previous CONCACAF Championships.

As it turns out, Swanson’s usage of his roster is the most liberal since  since 2006, when Tim Schulz (edit: it’s Schulz, no “t”) helmed the U-20 USWNT. Compared to the past two head coaches, Jill Ellis (2010) and Tony DiCicco (2008), Swanson has rested more starters: 8 starters from the first match did not play in either the second or third match, compared to 4 or less for Ellis (3) and DiCicco (4). Swanson has also used more players:  all 20 on the roster, in fact, compared to 18 out of 20 for both Ellis and DiCicco. In 2006, Schulz also rested 8 first match starters during the group stage and used his entire roster.

[Note: Once this U-20 Championship is over, I’ll probably revisit this topic in more detail, with more analysis. But, to quickly summarize, I’d argue that a more liberal use of a roster and substitutions is generally a good sign, as it likely indicates (1) the depth of the roster; (2) the willingness of the coach to experiment; (3) the confidence that the coach has in his or her players; among other factors. (4) Resting starters can help keep them fresh and protects them from getting injuries or cautions. Plus change is not boring for the spectators. However, it could also indicate (1) that the team has yet to find a consistent rhythm or core set of players; and (2) that the head coach may have manic tendencies, in other words, change for change’s sake. Plus, players do need time on the field together in order to develop a playing rapport.]

BACKGROUND

I have only compiled the data for the tournaments from 2006, onward, which is the first year for the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship. Prior to this, the championship was an under-19 event, and as such, is not one-hundred-percent directly comparable. Also, the 2002 tournament was only a group stage event: two groups of four teams, with only the top team in the group qualifying for the 2002 U-19 Women’s World Cup. The 2004 tournament did have a knock-out stage, but only two U-19 WWC spots were available, with the winners of the semifinals qualifying.

Minutes played do not include stoppage time, which is not usually available. Plus, by excluding those odd minutes, it makes error-checking much easier. (E.g., playing time in a match without extra-time should add up to 990 minutes, absent any red card ejections.)

Tournament Differences

The schedules for the USA  in these Under-20 Championships are, for the most part, all the same: (1) Three group matches, with only one rest day in in between. (2) The USA has been in the second group (“B”) all four times. (3) Except for the 2006 tournament when there was only one rest day between the last group match and the semifinals, the USA has had two rest days leading up to the semifinal. (4) The rosters for these tournaments each had 20 players, with only two being goalkeepers. (5) Three U-20 WWC spots were available in each edition.

For the 2010 and 2008 Championships, Mexico was a group stage opponent, both times in the third match. In 2006, like this current (2012) tournament, the USA did not have to face another North American team during the group stage. In 2006, the USA’s other group opponents were Jamaica, El Salvador, and Suriname.

In 2006, Amy Rodriguez received a red card in the second group stage match, and was thus suspended for the third and final group stage match. This forced Schultz’s hand as to whether or not he could have played Rodriguez in the final group match.

The 2008 tournament played at a significant altitude: As it was hosted by Mexico in Puebla at the Estadio Cuauhtémoc, which has an elevation of just over 7,000 feet above sea level. In preparation for that tournament, the  U-20 team trained in Park City, Utah, to help acclimate the players.

Also in 2008, Elli Reed, who would go to play in all six matches at that year’s Women’s World Cup, suffered from a case of strep throat during this tournament. She was rostered as a substitute for the first match, but was not rostered for the remaining matches.

Terminology: “Liberal” and “Conservative”

The most “conservative” usage of players is to not substitute at all and use the same players for all three matches. In such a situation during a group stage, only 11 players will get starting time and all of those 11 will have 270 minutes of playing time.

On the opposite end, the most “liberal” usage of players would be to use the entire roster as evenly as possible. However a perfectly even distribution of playing time is not possible, given the limitations of the tournament (only three matches, only three subs allowed). To my knowledge, the most even distribution possible is where all players get at least 135 minutes, while six of them will have 180 minutes (6 players with 180 minutes; 14 players with 135 minutes). [Note: To keep this post from getting overly complicated, I am leaving out the explanation of how I reached this conclusion. If you’re curious about the details on this, or think that you have found a more even distribution, then bring that up in a comment.]

SUMMARY

Players Used: Swanson has used all 20 players on his roster. In 2010 (Ellis) and 2008 (DiCicco) only 18 players saw action during the group stage. In 2010, Ellis did not use the back-up goalkeeper, Taylor Vancil (who was in goal for the 2008 U-17 USWNT during the entire 2008 U-17 WWC) or defender Kendall Johnson. In 2008, DiCicco did not use defender Elli Reed or forward Jessica McDonald. On this criterion, Swanson is even with the 2006 team (Schultz) where all 20 players also got playing time.

Distribution of Minutes:

Under Swanson, only one player, Kassey Kallman, has played for more than 180 minutes. Kallman has been on the field for the entire group stage, and thus has 270 minutes of playing time. This is one more than 2006, when no player had more than 180 minutes. In 2010 (Ellis), 7 players had over 180 minutes, with 6 of them playing for at least 240 minutes, including 3 who played all group stage minutes. Similarly, in 2008 (DiCicco), 6 team members played more than 180 minutes, with 3 of those on the pitch for the entire group stage.

Under Swanson, the averages for the top subsets of players are much closer to the averages for the most even distribution of minutes, compared to the tournaments in 2010 (Ellis) and 2008 (DiCicco). Again, only the 2006 (Schultz) numbers are more liberal.

As a way to consolidate the data, and thus make it easier to analyze, I have calculated the average minutes for the top 5, top 11, and top 14 players.  Numbers that are closer  to the averages for the maximum possible minutes per  subsets of players, represents a more conservative use of the rosters and substitutions. Conversely, numbers that are closer to the minimum possible minutes per subset, represent a more liberal usage of the roster and substitutions.

Average Minutes Played Per Top Subsets of Players

Average
Minutes     2012   2010   2008   2006 |  Max*  Min*
Top 5      198.0  262.6  256.4  180.0 |  270   180
Top 11     183.1  219.7  211.9  172.7 |  270  ~160
Top 14     172.7  195.7  190.6  164.6 | ~212  ~154
*The numbers with tildes (~) are rounded to the
 nearest whole number.

Deviation
From Min    2012   2010   2008   2006
Top 5      +18.0  +82.6  +76.4      0
Top 11     +23.1  +59.7  +51.9  +12.7
Top 14     +18.7  +41.7  +36.6  +10.6

As can be seen in the above tables, Ellis (2010) and DiCicco (2008) relied much more heavily on certain players compared to Swanson (2012) and Schulz (2006).

Distribution of Player Minutes for the U-20 USWNT Team:
CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championships (Group Stage)
(below each year is the number of players who had minutes in the particular range)

MINUTES  2012 2010 2008 2006
256-270     1    3    3    0
241-255     0    2    0    0
226-240     0    1    2    0
211-225     0    0    0    0
196-210     0    1    1    0
181-195     0    0    0    0
----------------------------
166-180     8    2    3    9
151-165     2    1    1    1
136-150     1    2    2    0
121-135     2    0    0    6
106-120     1    0    1    1
91-105      1    0    0    0
----------------------------
76-90       3    4    3    3
61-75       1    0    1    0
46-60       0    0    1    0
31-45       0    1    0    0
16-30       0    1    0    0
1-15        0    0    0    0
----------------------------
No Minutes  0    2    2    0

(Note: In the above table, the most even distribution of playing time would be centered in the middle third, specifically from 135 minutes to 180 minutes. The more spread out the minutes are from there, the less liberal the use of the roster and substitutions.)

Under Swanson, only one player, Sarah Killion, has played less than 90 minutes. Killion has 65 minutes, but saw action in two matches (versus Cuba and Panama). This is only second to Schulz (2006), where the player with the fewest minutes was Jordan Angeli, who had 80 minutes over two matches.

In 2010 (Ellis), 3 players who saw any playing time had less than 90 minutes: Amber Brooks (82 minutes over 3 matches), Maya Hayes (36 minutes over 2 matches), and Elizabeth Eddy (22 minutes, 1 match).

In 2008 (DiCicco),  2 players who saw any playing time had less than 90 minutes: Gina DiMartino (63 minutes, 2 matches) and Christine Nairn (2 matches, 58 minutes). But, both of these players saw at least a full half of action in one match.

Starters Rested:

During the group stage, Swanson has rested 8 players who started the first match versus Guatemala by not playing them in one of the two remaining group matches: Morgan Brian, Crystal Dunn, Bryane Heaberlin, Julie Johnston, Kealia Ohai, Mollie Pathman (captain), Cari Roccaro, and Katie Stengel. This puts him even with Schulz (2006) who also rested 8 player. In 2006, a ninth player, Amy Rodriguez, also sat out a group match, but that was due to a red card. Notably, both Swanson and Schulz each rested the team’s captain (2012, Pathman; 2006, Kryzsik) during the third group match.

Ellis (2010) and DiCicco (2008) each only rested a few players. For Ellis, 3 were rested: Zakiya Bywaters, Tiffany McCarty, and Jenna Richmond. For DiCicco, 4 were rested: Lauren Fowlkes, Alyssa NaeherCasey Noguiera, and Keelin Winters.

In 2006, the 8 starters rested were: Lindsay Beam, Lauren Cheney, Kelsey Davis, Carrie Dew, Tina DiMartino, Meagan Holmes, Nikki Kryzsik (captain), and Sarah Wagenfuhr. A ninth, Amy Rodriguez, also sat out a group match, but that was due to a red card.

* * *

THE DATA

2012 U-20 USWNT Playing Time: CONCACAF Championship

PLAYER              P.  GUA  CUB  PAN  S-MEX  ?-???   Grp   Ovr
Kassey Kallman      DF   90   90   90                 270
Bryane Heaberlin    GK   90    0   90                 180
Cari Roccaro        DF   90    0   90                 180
Crystal Dunn        DF   90   90    0                 180
Lindsey Horan       FW   90   45   45                 180
Maya Hayes          FW   45   90   45                 180
Mollie Pathman      DF   90   90   NR                 180
Olivia Brannon      DF    0   90   90                 180
Samantha Mewis      MF   90   45   34                 169
Morgan Brian        MF   68   90    0                 158
Vanessa DiBernardo  MF   22   45   90                 157
Julie Johnston      MF   90    0   56                 146
Kealia Ohai         FW   45    0   90                 135
Chioma Ubogagu      FW   33   90    0                 123
Mandy Laddish       MF    0   70   45                 115
Katie Stengel       FW   57   45   NR                 102
Abby Smith          GK    0   90    0                  90
Micaela Capelle     FW    0   NR   90                  90
Stephanie Amack     DF   NR   NR   90                  90
Sarah Killion       MF   NR   20   45                  65

Group Matches: USA 6, Guatemala 0. USA 6, Cuba 0. USA 6, Panama 0.

2010 U-20 USWNT Playing Time: CONCACAF Championship

PLAYER              P.  JAM  TRI  MEX  S-CRC  F-MEX   Grp   Ovr
Bianca Henninger    GK   90   90   90     90     90   270   450
Crystal Dunn        DF   90   90   90     90     90   270   450
Rachel Quon         DF   90   90   90     90     83   270   443
Toni Pressley       DF   75   90   90     90     90   255   435
Vicki DiMartino     DF   90   68   90     90     34   248   372
Christine Nairn     MF   90   60   90     90     90   240   420
Sydney Leroux       FW   62   57   82     90     90   201   381
Teresa Noyola       MF   57   33   90     90     46   180   316
Tiffany McCarty     FW   90    0   90     57      0   180   237
Zakiya Bywaters     MF   90    0   63     33     90   153   276
Kristie Mewis       MF   33   90   27     90     90   150   330
Jenna Richmond      MF   90    0   53     45      0   143   188
Casey Short         MF    0   90    0      0     44    90   134
Morgan Marlborough  FW    0   90    0     NR     NR    90    90
Samantha Mewis      MF    0   90    0      0      7    90    97
Amber Brooks        DF   15   30   37     45     90    82   217
Maya Hayes          FW   28   NR    8      0      0    36    36
Elizabeth Eddy      MF   NR   22   NR     NR     NR    22    22
Kendall Johnson     DF   NR   NR   NR      0     56     0    56
Taylor Vancil       GK    0    0    0      0      0     0     0

Group Matches: USA 6, Jamaica 0. USA 4, Trinidad & Tobago 0. USA 2, Mexico 1.
Knock-out Matches: USA 2. Costa Rica 1. USA 1, Mexico 0.

2008 U-20 USWNT Playing Time: CONCACAF Championship

PLAYER              P.  TRI  CUB  MEX  S-CRC  F-CAN   Grp   Ovr
Becky Edwards       MF   90   90   90     69     37   270   376
Meghan Klingenberg  MF   90   90   90     90     90   270   450
Nikki Marshall      DF   90   90   90     90     90   270   450
Kiersten Dallstream FW   90   59   90     90     90   239   419
Michelle Enyeart    FW   90   53   90     90     90   233   413
Kelley O'Hara       FW   58   90   62     45     90   210   345
Alyssa Naeher       GK   90    0   90     90     90   180   360
Lauren Fowlkes      MF   90   NR   90      0      0   180   180
Casey Noguiera      FW   90    0   77     NR     53   167   220
Keelin Winters      MF   72    0   90     90     90   162   342
Nikki Washington    FW   32   90   28     45      0   150   195
Alex Morgan         FW   60   37   45     42     NR   142   184
Sydney Leroux       FW   30   31   45      0     45   106   151
Ingrid Wells        MF    0   90    0     90      0    90   180
Kaley Fountain      DF    0   90    0     90     90    90   270
Kristin Arnold      GK    0   90    0      0      0    90    90
Gina DiMartino      FW   18   45   NR      0     65    63   128
Christine Nairn     MF   NR   45   13     21     25    58   104
Jessica McDonald    FW   NR    0    0     48     45     0    93
Elli Reed^          DF    0   NR   NR     NR     NR     0     0

Group Matches: USA 4, Trinidad & Tobago 0. USA 9, Cuba 0. USA 3, Mexico 0.
Knock-out Matches: USA 4. Costa Rica 0. USA 0, Canada 1.

^Elli Reed had a case of strep throat and apparently left Mexico before the final.

2006 U-20 USWNT Playing Time: CONCACAF Championship

PLAYER              P.  JAM  SUR  SLV  S-MEX  F-CAN   Grp   Ovr
Amanda Poach        MF   90   45   45     45     90   180   315
Brittany Taylor     FW    0   90   90      0      0   180   180
Lindsey Beam        MF   90    0   90      0     90   180   270
Meagan Holmes       DF   90    0   90      0     27   180   207
Nikki Kryzsik       DF   90   90    0     90     90   180   360
Sarah Wagenfuhr     DF   90    0   90      0     90   180   270
Stephanie Logterman DF    0   90   90     90      0   180   270
Valerie Henderson   GK    0   90   90      0      0   180   180
Danesha Adams       FW   71   55   45     45      0   171   216
Jessica Rodstedt    FW   19   45   90     15     31   154   200
Brittany Bock       MF    0   90   45     90     45   135   270
Carrie Dew*         DF   90    0   45      0     41   135   176
Kasey Moore         DF    0   90   45     90      0   135   225
Kelley O'Hara       FW    0   45   90     45     63   135   243
Lauren Cheney       FW   90    0   45     75     90   135   300
Tina DiMartino      MF   45   90    0     45     45   135   225
Amy Rodriguez**     FW   45   74   NA     90     59   119   268
Allie Long          MF   45   45    0     90      0    90   180
Kelsey Davis        GK   90    0    0     90     90    90   270
Jordan Angeli       FW   45   35    0     90     90    80   260

*Received two yellow cards in final versus Canada (ejected, 41′)
**Received red card in Suriname match (ejected, 74′)
Note: Non-rostered player information is not available for this year.

Group Matches: USA 4, Jamaica 1. USA 4, Suriname 0. USA 5, El Salvador 0.
Knock-out Matches: USA 3, Mexico 0. USA 3, Canada 2.

* * *

Methodology Notes:

(1.) Minutes played do not include stoppage time.

(2.) For players who start the match, cardinal minutes are rounded up to whole minutes, unless the player exits at half-time. E.g., if a starter exits the match in the 75th minute (74:01 to 75:00), their playing time is 75 minutes. But, if the player exits in the 46th minute (the first minute of the second half), their playing time is 45 minutes.

(3.) For players who are subbed-in during the match, their minutes are rounded-down to the whole minute, unless they enter at half-time. E.g., a player who enters the match in the 75th minute (74:01 to 75:00), is credited with 15 minutes of playing. But, if the player enters in the 46th minute (the first minute of the second half), their playing time is 45 minutes.

(4.) US Soccer match reports are used as a primary source. CONCACAF’s technical reports (official summaries of the tournaments) are used as a back-up source.