U-20 USWNT: The USA’s Under-20 Women’s World Cup Roster

On Thurdsay, U.S. Soccer released its roster for the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan, which begins August August 19th. Besides adding goalkeeper Jami Kranich as the third ‘keeper, head coach Steve Swanson made three other changes from the squad that qualified for this tournament back in March: Becca Wann and a healthy Kelly Cobb replace Lindsey Horan, who suffered a meniscus injury in June, and Micaelle Capelle, while defender Olivia Brannon has been cut, with midfielder Taylor Schram being a last minute addition.

The USA is in Group D (edit: not “C”) and plays Ghana on August 20th (3:00 a.m. EDT, ESPNU/ESPN3.com), China on August 23rd (6:00 a.m. EDT, ESPNU/ESPN3.com), and Germany on August 27th (3:00 a.m. EDT, ESPN2).

Goalkeepers: Both ‘keepers from qualifying, starter BRYANE HEABERLIN and primary back-up ABBY SMITH, are on the squad. Each graduated high school a semester early and are incoming freshman at the University of North Carolina and the University of Texas, respectively. The third goalkeeper is Villanova’s JAMI KRANICH, who only got her first youth national team call-up last December. Heaberlin will likely start all the matches at the U-20 WWC, although Swanson might rest her and start Smith for the middle group match against China, in a similar pattern as to what was done during qualifying back in March.

Defenders: The team’s new captain, JULIE JOHNSTON, is also the team’s newest centerback, having just been moved to that position in April of this year, in what head coach Steve Swanson originally called an “what if” experiment, but quickly became a permanent shift. Her primary partner in central defense will likely be usual starter KASSEY KALLMAN of Florida State, although she did not play in the USA’s last two friendlies (both versus Japan in June), apparently due to a minor injury. Instead, incoming Notre Dame freshman CARI ROCCARO could get a start in Kallman’s place. The fullback slots are more settled with University of North Carolina forward CRYSTAL DUNN on the right and Duke forward MOLLIE PATHMAN, the 2010 Gatorade Girls Soccer Player of the Year, on the left. Both have 4 assists in international matches this year. High schooler STEPHANIE AMACK, who is just 17 (December 1994 birthday), will primarily see time as a substitute fullback.

Midfielders: In the team’s 4-3-3 formation, the likely attacking midfielder pair will be the 2011 Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year, MORGAN BRIAN, from the University of Virginia and the University of Illinois’ VANESSA DiBERNARDO. The starting holding midfielder will probably be UCLA’s SARAH KILLION, although her fellow Bruin SAMANTHA MEWIS, may also get a start in that position, or could be used as substitute for any midfield slot. Notre Dame’s MANDY LADDISH has primarily been used as a substitute this year and will likely only see limited minutes in Japan. TAYLOR SCHRAM  of Penn State is a last minute addition* who was unavailable earlier this year due to unspecified injuries.** Last college season, she scored 12 goals and had 12 assists while starting all 24 of the matches she played (PSU Athletics profile).

*Like Becca Wann, Schram was a late addition to the final camp roster and not publicly announced by U.S. Soccer, but was announced by their college’s Athletic departments. E.g., here’s the PSU Athletics announcement for Schram.

**Regarding injuries, the only health-related news that I can find online is that Schram suffered a concussion and missed the last two matches of 2011 for Penn State.

Forwards: The not-insignificant loss of Lindsey Horan to a meniscus injury has been tempered by the return of Duke’s KELLY COBB, who will probably begin most matches on the bench in Japan, but could earn a starting role. The likely starters will be KATIE STENGEL of Wake Forest who has struggled somewhat in her role as center forward, UNC’s KEALIA OHAI on the left and MAYA HAYES of Penn State, on the right in place of the injured Horan. And, with Horan’s absence, super-sub CHIOMA UBOGAGU is now the leading goal-scorer on the roster, which may help the Stanford forward earn a starting role, most likely in place of Ohai. University of Richmond’s BECCA WANN, a relative newcomer to this squad who also plays collegiate basketball, provides a needed asset via her heading ability, which could come in handy late in a match.

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FULL ROSTER

Goalkeepers (3):
Bryane Heaberlin (UNC)
Jami Kranich (Villanova)
Abby Smith (Texas)

Defenders (6):
Stephanie Amack (Mustang Blast)
Crystal Dunn (UNC)
Julie Johnston (Santa Clara)
Kassey Kallman (Florida State)
Mollie Pathman (Duke)
Cari Roccaro (Notre Dame)

Midfielders (6):
Morgan Brian (UVA)
Vanessa DiBernardo (Illinois)
Sarah Killion (UCLA)
Mandy Laddish (Notre Dame)
Samantha Mewis (UCLA)
Taylor Schram (Penn State)

Forwards (6):
Kelly Cobb (Duke)
Maya Hayes (Penn State)
Kealia Ohai (UNC)
Katie Stengel (Wake Forest)
Chioma Ubogagu (Stanford)
Becca Wann (Richmond)

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OTHER ROSTER NOTES

Changes from the Qualifying Roster

Players Dropped: Lindsey Horan (forward; meniscus injury), Olivia Brannon (centerback/fullback; reason not available), and Micaela Capelle (forward; suffered a minor injury — MCL tear — during Spring season, which helped to open the door for other forwards).

Players Added: Kelly Cobb (forward; recovered from ankle injury and subsequent surgery); Becca Wann (forward); Taylor Schram (midfielder).

Players Cut from the Last Camp: Caprice Dydasco (fullback), Olivia Brannon (centerback/fullback), Ashley Meier (midfielder), and Makenzy Doniak. — Given Schram’s last minute call-up, that could have been due to an injury issue with Meier.

Most Likely Starting Line-Up — The primary starting eleven that Steve Swanson will probably go with during the U-20 WWC (4-3-3 formation):

Heaberlin (GK)
Dunn (RB) — Johnston (CB) — Kallman (CB) — Pathman (LB)
Brian (AM) — Killion (HM) — DiBernado (AM)
Hayes (FW) — Stengel (FW) — Ohai (FW)

The only change from the last known starting line-up (second Japan friendly) is Kassey Kallman (who apparently had a minor injury while in Japan) returning to her starting centerback position.