U-17 USWNT: Regarding the Probable Starting Line-Up

In a previous post on the U-17 USWNT’s final roster for the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship, I summarized the team’s likely preferred line-up in their normal 4-3-3 formation. This current post is a more in-depth discussion of that line-up, along with some background on how the line-up has evolved over the current cycle.

For more about the players, check out this series of profiles (updated 27-April-2012).

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As posted previously, the most probable line-up, based on trends, and other available information:

Campbell (GK)
Basinger (RB) — Bauer (CB) — Freeman (CB) — Miranda (LB)
Stanton (AM) — Andrews (HM) — Kaskie (AM)
Green (RF) — Purce (CF) — Bruder (LF)

Or, graphically:

Fig. 1: Most Likely Line-Up

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Goalkeeper : The starting ‘keeper spot has been Jane Campbell‘s since the cycle began in January 2011, with Cassie Miller only getting limited time in between the sticks versus international opponents (one half versus Germany in 2011, one half versus Japan in 2011, and a full matches versus the Netherlands.)

Centerbacks: Prior to October 2011, the likely starters would have been Morgan Andrews and Lizzie Raben, but head coach Albertin Montoya moved Andrews to the holding midfielder during that camp and Raben is now primarily a substitute. In December 2011, Montoya moved Maddie Bauer from right fullback to centerback, where she has started every known match since. Bauer, described as a natural leader, is the anchor centerback, and is the most likely player to wear the captain’s armband when Andrews is not on the field. The other probable starting centerback is Mandy Freeman, who has only been a regular in the position since the February 2012 camp. If the USA is short-handed in central defense, Andrews could be moved back to centerback spot.

Right Fullback: Several players have been tried at this position, including Maddie Bauer who was moved to centerback in December 2011, which was the first camp for Brittany Basinger. Basinger must have impressed Montoya right off the bat, as she has been a regular in this position ever since, ahead of Morgan Reid, who is now a probable substitute.

Left Fullback: Prior to Montoya taking over, Zoey Goralski (Napersville, Illinois; UCLA, 2013) seemed to have a lock on the left fullback spot, but the left-footed Gabbi Miranda, is now the go-to player for this spot and Goralski has not been to a U-17 WNT camp since last December. A back-up option for this position is Lauren Kaskie, who is also left-footed, but is now preferred in the midfield.

Another possibility is Morgan Reid as a back-up/substitute, although there does not seem to be any specific evidence of her playing left fullback for this team. Althouhg, if Reid is subbed in or starts in place of Miranda, Brittany Basinger, who normally plays left fullback for her club team, may switch to the left side, with Reid on the right.

Holding Midfielder: In a traditional 4-3-3, one player usually stays deeper than the other two midfielders. This holding mid position belongs to Morgan Andrews, who plays attacking mid for her club team, but prior to the October 2011 was primarily used as a centerback for the U-17 WNT. As far as which players will be the back-up or substitute holding mid, there does not seem to be any good indication who specifically among the other midfielders could fill those roles.

Attacking Midfielders: Several players have been tested in the midfield over the cycle, with Morgan Stanton being the most consistent starter under Montoya. The other probable starter is the left-footed Lauren Kaskie, although the youngest player on the team, Sarah Robinson, who has started four international matches this year (which seems to have been partially due to Kaskie recovering from a minor injury), has a decent chance of starting in Kaskie’s place.

Toni Payne will likely see action as a substitute in most matches during the tournament. Joanna Boyles, who was on the USA’s 2010 U-16 Nordic Cup winning side, has since fallen out of favor, and for most matches, will probably be one of the two players not rostered, as either a starter or a substitute.

Arielle Ship, who did not make the roster, was probably the last player cut.

Forwards: A number of players have been tried up top including Jenny Chiu (El Paso, Texas; UNC, 2013) who is now playing for the Mexican WNT. The forward line is where we will likely see the most variation during the CONCACAF Championship. That said, a consistent front trio has emerged, with Summer Green being one of the most regular starters. The next most consistent starter has been the left-footed Emily Bruder, who will probably play on the left flank, while Green will play on the right.

Green is described by Montoya as a “Ronaldo” forward, in that she drifts back into the midfield more than a normal forward (normal as in “English”). (Source: TopDrawerSoccer.com podcast) — So, at times the formation may look more like a 4-4-2 (either traditional or with a diamond midfield).

In the center forward spot, prior to the last camp, Andi Sullivan appeared to be the most likely starter, but a dark horse has emerged: Margaret “Midge” Purce, who has only been in U-17 USWNT camps since December 2011.

One of the most-hyped players on the roster, Amber Munerlyn, who scored two goals in the 2010 U-16 Nordic Cup, will likely see more time riding the pine, than on-field, down in Guatemala.

One of the forwards will likely be not rostered for most of the matches at the CONCACAF Championship. Darian Jenkins, who was not at the February camp this year and not included for the La Manga roster, will probably be that player. On the other hand, based on known rosters from the most recent camp, I would not be surprised if Andi Sullivan is left off some of the match rosters.

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The following lists are an attempt to summarize the preferred order of players for each position. The first name in the list is the most likely starter. The second name is the next most likely, et cetera.

Player names that are italicized denote a player who is more preferred at a different position, but could play the particular position if needed and have actually played that position for the U-17 WNT.

The holding midfielder position is the one spot where I have been unable to find any specific data on who is preferred as a substitute and/or back-up, thus the “???” after Morgan Andrew’s name.

  • Goalkeeper (1): Jane Campbell, Cassie Miller
  • Centerbacks (2): Maddie Bauer, Mandy Freeman, Lizzie Raben, Morgan Andrews
  • Right Fullback (1): Brittany Basinger, Morgan Reid, Maddie Bauer
  • Left Fullback (1): Gabbi Miranda, Lauren Kaskie
  • Holding Midfielder (1): Morgan Andrews, ???
  • Attacking Midfielders (2): Morgan Stanton, Lauren Kaskie, Sarah Robinson, Toni Payne, Joanna Boyles, Summer Green, Andi Sullivan
  • Forwards (3): Summer Green, Emily Bruder, Midge Purce, Amber Munerlyn, Andi Sullivan, Darian Jenkins

Other possible options for left fullback include Brittany Basinger, who is normally a left fullback for her club team, and Morgan Reid.

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In their last camp, the U-17 USWNT played three 80-minute scrimmages. Two were against collegiate teams, while the last one was versus the Chinese U-20 WNT. Complete line-ups for two of those matches are known, the first, versus UC-Irvine, and the last match, versus the Chinese U-20ers.

Scrimmage versus UC Irvine:

Jane Campbell; Brittany Basinger, Maddie Bauer, Mandy Freeman, Gabbi Miranda; Morgan Andrews, Morgan Stanton, Lauren Kaskie; Summer Green, Margaret Purce, Emily Bruder

Scrimmage versus China’s U-20 WNT (shirt numbers and subs removed):

Jane Campbell; Brittany Basinger, Maddie Bauer, Mandy Freeman, Gabbi Miranda; Sarah Robinson, Morgan Stanton, Lauren Kaskie; Summer Green, Maggie Purce, Emily Bruder

The only change in the two line-ups is the absence of Morgan Andrews, which was primarily a precautionary measure due to a minor injury she picked up in the team’s first scrimmage of the camp, versus UC Irvine.

The middle scrimmage in the camp was versus San Diego State. Although the complete line-up is not known, through some statistical forensics*, parts of the line-up can be deduced. Cassie Miller, Lizzy Raben, and Darian Jenkins started the match, while Midge Purce was a substitute. Several normal starters were not used: Morgan Andrews, Jane Campbell, Morgan Stanton, Emily Bruder, Brittany Basinger, and Miranda Freeman. Also, Toni Payne and Arielle Ship (who did not make the final roster), were either starters or subs in the match.

The line-up for this middle scrimmage, is, in my estimations, more likely to indicate a preferred alternate line-up (e.g., for the second group match), and, thus, less valid as an indicator for the team’s preferred starting line-up.

Previous line-ups, through March 2012, were profiled in an older post.

*The U-17 USWNT played 9 matches this year, of which the rosters are known for 7. USSoccer.com has a statistics page for the U-17 WNT, here, which lists games started and appearances, among other statistics. Using the known match rosters and known camp rosters, some of the missing line-ups can be deduced through the process of elimination.

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