CONCACAF WU-17: Group B Preview – USA, Mexico, Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago

This year, the United States finds itself grouped with a North American opponent for the first time at a CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship. That opponent, Mexico, features eleven players who live in the United States, including two players, Jenny Chiu and Cynthia Pineda, who have been in USWNT youth camps.

The third team in the group is Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), who have a few veterans returning from the 2010 Under-17 Women’s World Cup, which T&T hosted. The Bahamas is the final team in the group and are the lone debutantes at this tournament. In fact, this is the first time that this small Caribbean nation has qualified for any final phase of a CONCACAF tournament, men’s or women’s.

[For a preview of Group A, which includes Canada, see this post.]

The USA being grouped with Mexico does make the group stage a bit more difficult, but should make for an easier semifinal: If the USA wins it group, then it will face the second-place team from Group A, which will likely be Guatemala, Panama, or even Jamaica, as the other team in the group is Canada, who will probably claim the top spot. The USA has played Mexico once in a CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship: In 2008, the two teams met in a semifinal, where the USA prevailed 1:0 on a 90+2′ stoppage time goal from current U-20 WNT fullback Crystal Dunn (US Soccer match report).

The USA could face Mexico twice during this tournament: In addition to their group stage encounter, the two neighbors could face each other again in the final, or even the third place match. This happened at the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship, which, concidentally was held at same stadium as this Championship.

Trinidad and Tobago is helmed by veteran coach Even Pellerud of Norway, who managed that country’s women’s national team during its glory days of the early to mid-1990s when it won the 1995 Women’s World Cup. After Norway, Pellerud led the Canadian WNT from 1999 to 2008. This will be the second time that the USA and T&T have been grouped with each other in the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship: In 2008, the USA defeated T&T 9 to 1 (US Soccer match report). T&T’s team is not as well-funded as it was in 2010, which has meant fewer international matches outside T&T and less training camps.

The Bahamas are in this tournament for the first time, and with a population of 316,000, are not the smallest nation to ever qualify. That honor belongs to the Cayman Islands, population 53,000, who the USA defeated 13:0 in 2010 (US Soccer match report).

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GROUP B MATCH SCHEDULE

All times are for the Eastern U.S.A.

Thursday, May 3
Bahamas vs. United States, 4 p.m.
Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 5
United States vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 4 p.m.
Mexico vs. Bahamas, 6:30 p.m.

Monday, May 7
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Bahamas, 4 p.m.
United States vs. Mexico, 6:30 p.m.

All matches will be streamed live at CONCACAF TV’s website.

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UNITED STATES

National Population: 313,850,000
GDP Per Capita: $48,100
Senior WNT World Ranking: 1st
Senior WNT Ranking in CONCACAF: 1st
Past U-17 CONCACAF Championships: 2008 (1st Place), 2010 (3rd Place)
Past U-17 Women’s World Cups: 2008 (2nd Place)
Federation Website: www.ussoccer.com
U-17 WNT Coach: Albertin Montoya

How They Got Here: Automatic Qualifier.

Recent Matches: Except for two friendlies against the German U-17 WNT, the USA has “played-up” in all of their matches this calendar year, competing against three U-19 WNTs at La Manga, scrimmaging against collegiate teams plus China’s U-20 WNT. The USA has not lost in regulation this year, winning seven matches and drawing twice.

The matches (in reverse chronological order): vs. China’s U-20 WNT, 0:0 draw; vs. San Diego State,  3:0 win; vs. UC Irvine, 3:0 win; vs. The Netherlands’ U-19 WNT, 2:0 win; vs. England’s U-19 WNT, 1:1 draw*; vs. France’s U-19 WNT, 2:0 win; vs. Florida Gulf Coast University, 1:0 win; vs. Germany’s U-17 WNT, 1:0 win; vs. Germany’s U-17 WNT, 2:0 win. (Edit: USSoccer.com posted details on all the matches the team played this year, with goal scorers per match.)

Official US Soccer match report are not available for any of the scrimmages versus collegiate teams. A TopDrawerSoccer.com report is available for the UC Irvine scrimmage. The score for the scrimmage versus San Diego State has been deduced by subtracting the known goals scored from the total goals scored by the team, which is listed on its statistics page. (edit: see the note at the end of the previous paragraph.)

*After the England match, a penalty shootout was held, which the USA lost 4:3. The USA’s penalty takers (source: these YouTube videos): Maddie Bauer, miss; Gabbi Miranda, goal; Amber Munerlyn, goal; Mandy Freeman, goal; Morgan Andrews, blocked.

Players to Watch: All of them. But, specifically… Team captain Morgan Andrews is the player on the team who is surrounded by the most hype, but by all accounts, that seems more than justified. Probably the team’s most technical player, expect Andrews to not only serve up playmaking passes from her holding mid position, but also to go forward and score goals.

Up top, Margaret “Midge” Purce is a relative late-comer to the U-17 USWNT, but has “a potent mix of speed and skills” according to the Washington Post, and is a likely starter in the center forward spot. Beyond just scoring, Purce can also serve up assists: In her most recent high school season, she had 17 assists to complement her 30 goals.

The back line is commanded by centerback Maddie Bauer, who is one of six players on the team that have verbally committed to Stanford (four for 2013, two for 2014). Playing left fullback is the left-footed Gabbi Miranda, who is a long distance scoring threat.

Further Reading: For the U-17 USWNT’s complete roster, with player profiles, check out this series of posts, which has been updated (27-April-2012). For details on the evolution of the team’s starting line-up, along with the team’s probable preferred starting line-up, see this recent post.

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MEXICO

National Population: 114,975,000
GDP Per Capita: $15,100
Senior WNT World Ranking: 22nd
Senior WNT Ranking in CONCACAF: 3rd
Past U-17 CONCACAF Championships: 2008 (4th Place), 2010 (2nd Place)
Past U-17 Women’s World Cups: 2010 (Group Stage)
Federation Website: www.femexfut.org.mx (Spanish only)
U-17 WNT Coach: Leonardo Cuellar (Head coach of Mexico’s senior WNT)

How They Got Here: Automatic Qualifier.

Recent Matches: In its most recent camp, the Mexican U-17 WNT scrimmage twiced against a less-than-full-strength Mexican U-20 WNT. In the first meeting, the two sides played to a 1:1 draw, with the U-17 WNT switching out most of its field players for the second-half (femexfut.org.mx write-up). In the second scrimmage, the U-17 WNT scored six goals while allowing only one (femexfut.org.mx write-up). For the U-17 WNT, 22 players saw minutes in the scrimmage. Goal scorers during those scrimmages: Luz Duarte (2), Hallie Hernández (2), Taylor Alvarado, Michelle González, and Mariana Cadena.

In their March camp, the U-17 WNT scrimmaged against the women’s soccer team of Cerritos College (Norwalk, CA). The Mexican U-17 WNT won their first match 2:0 and drew 3:3 in the second match. In the team’s previous camp, held in December 2011, the team scrimmaged twice against Canada’s U-17 WNT, losing 2:0 and 1:0.

Players to Watch: In the team’s recent scrimmages (April and March), forwards Luz Duarte (Tucson Mountain Lady Jaguars) and Jessica Morales (San Diego Surf) have been the main source of goals, with Duarte scoring four goals and Morales scoring three.

Left-footed forward Jenny Chiu, who has already committed verbally to UNC (2013), is probably the team’s most over-hyped player, seeing as she has yet to score a goal and is far from a guaranteed starter.

Midfielder Cynthia Pineda, who like Chiu, has been in at least one USWNT youth camp, is the younger sister of current U-20 US Men’s National Team player Victor Pineda (who was in their most recent camp).

Further Reading: Mexico’s final roster, with height and club details.

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TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

National Population: 1,226,000
GDP Per Capita: $20,300
Senior WNT World Ranking: 48th
Senior WNT Ranking in CONCACAF: 5th
Past U-17 CONCACAF Championship Appearances: 2008 (Group Stage)
Past U-17 Women’s World Cup Appearances: 2010 (host; Group Stage)
Federation Website: www.ttffonline.com
U-17 WNT Coach: Even Pellerud (Stephan De Four who was the team’s head coach during Caribbean qualifying is now listed as the  first  assistant coach.)

How They Got Here: T&T had to go through Caribbean qualifying, where the top three teams would advance to this final phase of the Championship. In the first round they played a double round-robin group of three teams. (The other first round groups were only single round-robin.) T&T won all four of their matches, scoring 46 goals in the process. In the second round, T&T won the single round-robin group of four, thus qualifying them for the final phase of the tournament.

Trinidad & Tobago 13, Dominica 0.
Trinidad & Tobago 5, Dominica 0.
Trinidad & Tobago 11, St. Kitts & Nevis 0.
Trinidad & Tobago 17, St. Kitts & Nevis 0.

Trinidad & Tobago 8, Guyana 0.
Trinidad & Tobago 3, Bahamas 0.
Trinidad & Tobago 1, Jamaica 0.

Box scores for these matches are available on CONCACAF’s website.

Recent Matches: In the first leg of their final pre-tournament camp, T&T played Panama’s U-17 WNT three times in Panama: the first match was called after 55 minutes due to bad weather, with no score; a 45 minute make-up scrimmage which T&T won 1:0; and a full match that T&T won 3:2 (for more details, see T&T’s website). The second leg was played in Florida, but details about any scrimmages are not readily available. In March of this year, T&T played Canada’s U-17 WNT twice, losing both matches 3:0.

Notable Players: (Note: An official final roster is not yet available, but there is a 24-player travel roster for their last tune-up camp.)  The team captain is midfielder Anique Walker (FIFA profile, YouTube interview), who played for T&T at the 2010 U-17 WWC and the 2010 Youth Olympics (a six-team U-15 tournament).

One eligible player from 2010 who may or may not play is 2012 UConn commit Liana Hinds (b 23-Feb-1995, FIFA profile). Hinds lives in the USA and attends a private boarding school in Connecticut. She did not participate in qualifying last year, but was supposed to join the team sometime after their matches versus Canada (per this ttffonline.com  news item), but did not travel to Panama.

One US-based player was on the 24-player travel roster: Nikkia Billioun, who plays for the Baldwin Eagles Soccer Club in Long Island.

Sure to confuse the under-prepared CONCACAF TV announcers are the Debesette twins, Khadisha, who plays defense, and Khadidra, who is a forward. In qualifying they scored 6 and 7 goals, respectively.

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BAHAMAS

National Population:  316,000
GDP Per Capita: $30,900
Senior WNT World Ranking: Unranked (inactive)
Senior WNT Ranking in CONCACAF: Unranked (inactive)
Past U-17 CONCACAF Championships: none
Past U-17 Women’s World Cups: none
Federation Website: www.bahamasfa.com (not updated often)
U-17 WNT Coach: ???

How They Got Here:  In the first round of Caribbean qualifying, a single three-team round-robin, the Bahamas won both their matches to finish first in its group. In the second round, which was a four-team single-round robin, held in Jamaica, the Bahamas lost both to the hosts and Trinidad & Tobago, before pulling out a 1:0 win versus Guyana, which secured the Bahamas a third-place finish and the fina1 qualifying spot from the Caribbean.

Bahamas 10, Antigua & Barbados 0.
Bahamas 2, Bermuda 0.

Bahamas 0, Jamaica 2.
Bahamas 0, Trinidad & Tobago 3.
Bahamas 1, Guyana 0.

Box scores for these matches are available on CONCACAF’s website.

Recent Matches: Information is not readily available regarding recent camps.

Notable Players: With not much news and information available about the team, it is hard to pick out any particular players for a special mention… In qualifying, the team’s leading goal scorer was a defender, Dena Ingraham, who had 5 goals.

The team’s captain, Lauren Haven who primarily plays in an attacking position, either in the midfield or up top, has recently committed to an NCAA D2 school, the University of Charleston, in Charleston, West Virginia (press release, Bahamas news article). Her father, Lionel Haven, also played soccer for that school, in the late 1980s, and is a past General Secretary of the Bahamas FA. The senior Haven came was investigated by FIFA in 2011 for ethics violations as part of the Jack Warner scandal, but was not sanctioned by FIFA (FIFA.com).

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Notes:
1. Population and GDP data is from the CIA Factbook.
2. Senior WNT team rankings are from FIFA.com.