U-20 USWNT: A Review of their May 2012 Camp

On May 19th, the United States Under-20 Women’s National Team wrapped up its latest camp with a solid 5:0 win over New Zealand. Also, during this camp, the team scrimmaged the U-23 USWNT twice, resulting in a 4:4 draw and a 3:1 win.

During the camp, Vanessa DiBernardo and newcomer Makenzy Doniak had standout performances, while Julie Johnston played as a centerback for two additional matches, which seems to signify that a position switch is in the works for her.

* * *

SCRIMMAGE #1 — 4:4 Draw with U-23 USWNT (TopDrawerSoccer.com)
8: Morgan Brian (Vanessa DiBernardo)
36: Katie Stengel (Lindsey Horan)
4?: Lindsey Horan (free kick)
7?: Sarah Killion

USA’s Starting XI (4-3-3):

Swanson went with his “A” team. Julie Johnston played as a centerback rather than as a midfielder for the second straight match —

Heaberlin (GK)
Dunn (RB) — Johnston (CB) — Kallman (CB) — Pathman (LB)
Brian (AM) — S. Mewis (HM) — DiBernardo (AM)
Horan (RF) — Stengel (CF) — Ohai (LF)

Sarah Killion played in the second half, presumably as a substitute for Mewis. Complete substitution information is not available.

Defense: Prior to this scrimmage, the U-20 USWNT had only allowed two goals in all reported matches and scrimmages so far in 2012. Here, they gave up four, including a clumsy own goal when Heaberlin sent a clearance off the back of one of her defenders that rebounded into the net.

Offense: The U-20s were able to score early, and after falling behind 1:2, able to score two more goals to take a 3:2 lead into the halftime break.

  • Goal #1: DiBernardo sends a lofted pass over the defense and into the path of a charging Brian.
  • Goal #2: Horan assists Stengel.
  • Goal #3: Horan scores directly off a free kick from just outside the penalty box.
  • Goal #4: Killion eventually sends in a shot after a corner kick.

* * *

SCRIMMAGE #2 — 3:1 Win vs. the U-23 USWNT (TopDrawerSoccer.com)
22: Makenzy Doniak
39: Mandy Laddish (Makenzy Doniak)
75: Chioma Ubogagu

Both teams appeared to go with their “B” squads for this match. Three players who did not travel to Panama started this match: Caprice Dydasco and Ashley Meier who each played in a friendly versus China during the last camp, and Makenzy Doniak, who got her first U-20 USWNT call-up this month.

USA’s Starting XI (4-3-3):

A. Smith (GK)
Amack (FB) — Brannon (CB) – Roccaro (CB) — Dydasco (FB)
Laddish (MF) — Killion (MF) — Meier (MF)
M. Doniak (FW) — Hayes (FW) — Ubogagu (FW)

The exact positions for most of these players cannot be reasonable ascertained, hence the more general position notation. I suspect that Killion was used primarily as a holding midfielder.

Becca Wann, who also got her first U-20 USWNT call-up, is the only known substitute. It appears that she came on in the second half for Maya Hayes.

Defense: The only goal allowed was via a direct free kick taken by U-23 centerback Toni Pressley.

Offense: The U-20s were able to score two goals in the first half and add a third in the final fifteen minutes of the match.

  • Goal #1 (22′): Doniak, a sliding kick.
  • Goal #2 (39′): Doniak and Laddish combined in the box, with Laddish hitting a grounder into a corner.
  • Goal #3 (75′): Ubogagu finished a rebounded shot by Meier. Under the mysterious definition of an assist used by US Soccer, this could be an assist for Meier.

Makenzy Doniak left the match early due to a shoulder injury, the severity of which is not publicly known.

* * *

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY: 5:0 Win vs. New Zealand’s U-20 WNT.
(US Soccer, NZ Football)
14: Lindsey Horan (Crystal Dunn)
18: Kealia Ohai (Mollie Pathman)
35: Katie Stengel (Vanessa DiBernardo)
47: Katie Stengel (Lindsey Horan)
86: Chioma Ubogagu (Vanessa DiBernardo)

USA’s Starting XI (4-3-3):

Heaberlin (GK)
Dunn (RB) — Johnston (CB) — Kallman (CB) — Pathman (LB)
Brian (AM) — Killion (HM) — DiBernardo (AM)
Horan (RF) — Stengel (CF) — Ohai (LF)

Again, Julie Johnston is playing as a centerback. So, what may have been a “what-if” experiment in the last camp, is now a clear trend with multiple data points.

Substitutions:
46: A. Smith in, Heaberlin out.
46: Roccaro in, Kallman out.
46: S. Mewis in, Brian out.
57: Ubogagu in, Stengel out.
57: Hayes in, Ohai out.
66: Amack in, Pathman out.

Also on the Bench: Jami Kranich, Mandy Laddish, Ashley Meier, and Becca Wann.

Players in the camp who did not dress for this match were Megan Kufeld (GK), Olivia Brannon (DF), Caprice Dydasco (DF), Kelly Cobb (FW), and Makenzy Doniak (FW).

Cobb was not mentioned in either of the reports for the scrimmages, so it appears that she did not play at all during this camp. Doniak was presumably unavailable due to her friendly in the last scrimmage.

Laddish and Brannon were the only two players from Panama who did not play in this match. None of the players outside of the CONCACAF Championship squad saw any minutes during the friendly.

Notes on New Zealand: The Junior Football Ferns were without their captain, forward Rosie White, due to a stress fracture in her foot. Also, one of their now-starting centerbacks, Rebekah Stott just joined the team after transferring her national affiliation from Australia to New Zealand. (NZFootball.co.nz)

* * *

TAKEAWAYS

Julie Johnston, centerback. Swanson’s “what-if” experiment has gone from a one match test to a three game trend. If Johnston also starts as a centerback in the match(es) during the Japan trip, then we can classify this as an actual position shift.

And, if Johnston continues to be a starting centerback, then that could impact the USA’s overall roster for the U-20 WWC: One of the defenders from Panama — most likely, Stephanie Amack or Olivia Brannon — could be cut and an additional midfielder could be added. At this time, such a roster change seems unlikely, but this possible position shift does add more uncertainty to the overall roster.

A Good Camp for Sarah Killion. In this camp, Killion played for the full ninety in an international match, for the first time this year and scored a goal in a scrimmage. Killion, who only saw limited minutes at La Manga, and looked less than comfortable down in Panama, now appears to be a definite pick for the U-20 WWC roster.

And, also for Vanessa DiBernardo. The attacking midfielder seems to have secured a starting spot, especially after her three assist performance over two matches, this camp.

The spot for the sixth forward remains unsettled. With Micaela Capelle’s and Kelly Cobb’s match fitness still unconfirmed, plus newcomer Makenzy Doniak’s shoulder injury, the final forward slot is definitely up in the air. It is unclear how good of an impression first-timer Becca Wann made with Swanson.

In addition to her goal plus assist in this camp, Doniak was also a bright spot in the U-18 USWNT camp held in January, where she scored two goals in a scrimmage versus Shanghai Women’s Football Club (TopDrawerSoccer.com).

And, the same can be said for the third goalkeeper. Based on the call-ups for this camp, Jami Kranich appears to have the inside track, but without knowing why Stanford’s Emily Oliver was not called up, it is too soon to write her off.

The Starting Line-Up For the U-20 WWC Is Probably Settled. Assuming that Swanson keeps Johnston in the centerback slot, then the line-up for this camp’s  first scrimmage will likely be the preferred starting XI at the U-20 WWC:

Heaberlin (GK)
Dunn (RB) — Johnston (CB) — Kallman (CB) — Pathman (LB)
Brian (AM) — S. Mewis (HM) — DiBernardo (AM)
Horan (RF) — Stengel (CF) — Ohai (LF)

The most probable variations would be Killion instead of Mewis and Ubogagu or Hayes up top instead of one of the forwards.

So far this year, the above line-up has accounted for 41 of the team’s 60 goals and 34  of the team’s 43 assists (in all matches and reported scrimmages). Outside of those eleven players, Ubogagu (8 goals, 3 assists) and Hayes (5 goals, 4 assists) have the next largest number of goals and assists.

* * *

WHAT’S NEXT

Japan Trip: The team will travel to Japan in mid-June, but the only confirmed match is a friendly versus Japan’s U-20 WNT in Osaka on June 17th (JFA). Presumably, the USA will play additional matches or scrimmages, either against other U-20 WNTs or L. League teams.

The Draw: Also, the U-20s will learn their group opponents on June 4th, when the draw is conducted in Tokyo. The specific draw procedure has yet to be announced, but here is some speculation on what the pots may look like.