After another disappointing FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup performance in 2018, which saw the United States fail to make the knock-out stage (again), while fellow CONCACAF rivals Mexico and Canada both made the semifinals, the quest to claim the only FIFA women’s trophy not yet won by the USA was renewed this spring.
For this cycle, Tracey Kevins takes over the U-17 United States Women’s National Team head coaching reigns from fellow England-native Mark Carr, who is now the head coach for the U-20 USWNT. Previously, Kevins was the head coach for the U-15 Girls’ National Team last cycle (2017-18), so she is already very familiar with the 2003 birth year pool.
Read on for details about the players called in so far, friendly matches played so far, and what lays ahead for the U-17 USWNT.
THE GOAL: LIFTING THE FIFA UNDER-17 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP TROPHY
Winning this age group’s intercontinental youth tournament is the ultimate objective for the U-17 USWNT. However, the primary purposes of the U-17s and the other youth teams are player selection and support/development for those athletes with the potential to one day play for the full United States Women’s National Team.
These aims are sometimes in conflict with each other, as a win-first mentality might mean selecting big and fast players while neglecting players with more long-term upside, such as those who are bright and technical, but behind the curve in physical development. Although, as the youth system now has a full complement of annual age group teams, from the U-15 level to the U-20 level, players with potential, but who are tournament ready can be transferred to the secondary age group teams (U-16, U-18, and U-19) for support and development.
The United States has never won the U-17 WWC, with their best finish coming in the first edition of that tournament, in 2008, when the USA lost 1:2 to Korea DPR in the final after extra time (FIFA).
For the USA, a consistent theme of all past U-17 WWCs is being significantly out-played by teams with more soccer I.Q. and technical ability. The following excerpts are from a May 2009 New York Times “Goals” blog post, titled U.S. Women’s Coach Pleads for Better Players:
[A]ccording to the coach of the United States’ under-17 women’s team, Kazbek Tambi, there is little blocking Japan’s ascension to the top echelon in the world. Tambi calls them the Brazilians of the Far East.
“They’ve made a concerted effort to bring loads of Brazilian players and coaches and have followed the Brazilian philosophy, which is about having great technical skills and playing a beautiful game,” Tambi said during a recent interview at his home in Paramus, N.J. “We don’t have the Brazilians coming here. Instead we’ve had 30 years of English influence.”
“And we coaches have to stress the importance of focusing on great technique at younger ages, that this will allow us to create more appealing teams. The answer really lies not so much with the national team program, but at the youth club level in the teenage years when players are developing, or failing to develop.”
“In New Zealand, we didn’t have a player with the whole package, they each brought something,” he said. “The Japanese — they just amazed me with their skill, taking 30-yard balls down easily. For my next group I’m going to be placing greater emphasis on technical proficiency.”
Tambi did craft a more technical team for the 2010 cycle, which featured current USWNT players Lindsey Horan and Morgan Brian. Scoring-wise, the USA were the best team in the tournament, but due to the slot allocation and a semifinal penalty shoot-out loss to Canada, the USA were locked out of that year’s 2010 U-17 WWC, which was held in Trinidad and Tobago.
The next time, In 2012, the USA did easily qualify for the U-17 WWC in Azerbaijan, but did not make it out of the group stage, as they finish third in a three-way tie of five points, with eventual winner France, and runner-up Korea DPR.
2014 was a disappointing repeat of 2010, with Mexico knocking out the USA in the semifinals of CONCACAF qualifying, as Costa Rica was hosting the U-17 WWC that year.
The USA made it back to the U-17 WWC in 2016, but failed to get out of the group, again. A loss to Ghana, followed by a loss to then-reigning U-17 WWC champion Japan, left the USA in third place.
In 2018, the USA repeated as U-17 CONCACAF champions, but once again, failed to make it out of the group stage at the U-17 WWC, due to an 0:3 loss against reigning U-17 WWC champion Korea DPR and an 0:4 loss to Germany.
So, in summary, out of the six U-17 WWCs held so far, the USA has only qualified for four of them, while only making the knock-out stage once, in 2008. Meanwhile, the tournament has been dominated by the top Asian teams, Korea DPR, Japan, and Korea Republic, who have claimed six out of the twelve finalist spots so far. And, new European heavyweights France and Spain have each won one edition of the U-17 WWC.
(For more details on the USA’s U-17 cycles, see the latest USWNT media guide.)
CONCACAF QUALIFYING: NOW WITH MORE KNOCK-OUT ROUNDS
For the 2020 U-17 and U-20 cycles, the CONCACAF Women’s Championships will now consist of twenty teams during the final stages, up from eight, as had been standard in past cycles. This new twenty-team format has already been used by CONCACAF, beginning last year for the men’s youth tournaments (for example, the 2019 U-17 Championship).
What the new format means for the United States is that it will still have a four-team round-robin group stage to play, but instead of going straight into a semifinal knock-out round, the knock-out stage will now also have a round of sixteen and a quarterfinal round, for a total of up to seven matches, instead of five. And, instead of the tournament lasting about eleven days, the duration will now be stretched to sixteen days.
Also, instead of a final group stage of two groups with four teams, there will now be four groups of four, consisting of the top sixteen teams in CONCACAF, based on historical performance for each association’s team at this age level. Additionally, the top three teams all qualify for the knock-out stage, instead of just the top two.
The teams not in the top sixteen have a separate qualifying route, with a preliminary qualification tournament to determine the “last four” teams, which for this cycle, has already been held. Those four teams will sit out the final knock-out stage and enter the group stage, with each facing a group winner.
For this cycle, the final group stage and knock-out stage are scheduled for March 21 to April 5, 2020, with the host nation to be determined (CONCACAF). The USA already know their group opponents: Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Nicarauga (CONCACAF).
The top three teams (semifinal winners plus the third-place winner) will each qualify for the 2020 FIFA U-17 WWC, which will be hosted by India and will take place from November 2 to 21, 2020 (FIFA).
THE PLAYER POOL: NEW HOPES, NO ONE NAMED HOPE
For the 2018 FIFA U-17 WWC, a lower age floor of fifteen (by the end of the calendar year) for players was introduced. That meant only players born in the years 2001 to 2003 were eligible (2018 U-17 WWC regulations – PDF). The regulations for the upcoming U-17 WWC are not yet available, so FIFA may decide to change or remove the age floor, but for this review, I will only focus on players born in the years 2003 to 2005.
With that said, going back to the 2016 U-14 cycle, over 170 age-eligible players have been brought into various youth teams camps. By my count, there have been 92 born in 2003, 66 from the 2004 birth year, and 15 born in 2005, including the quasi-professional Olivia Moultrie (SI.com).
Over twenty-five of the 2003’ers have attended at least five youth camps, while fifteen have been attendees for at least ten youth team camps. Only one 2004’er has been in more ten youth team camps. (Much more on her later.) And, for the 2005 birth year, just four players have attended more than two youth team camps.
PLAYER SELECTION FOR CAMPS: THE ’03 PACK
Although the cycle is still early, with just four camps, a core group of over a dozen players is already identifiable. This consistency goes back to the past U-15 cycle, which was also coached by Tracey Kevins: Of the four 2019 U-17 camps and five 2018 U-15 camps helmed by Kevins, in six of those eight camps, at least thirteen of the current twenty first-choice players have attended one of those camps together. The two exceptions are (1) due to the back-to-back UEFA U-16 developmental tournaments in May 2019, when the USA sent a mostly “B”-roster to the second tournament, and (2) a July 2018 domestic camp that had several new players called in for the first time. For six of those players, that has been there only USA youth camp so far,
Given Kevins’ familiarity with the players and the lack of any player turnover due to a coaching change, this should not be that much of a surprise.
However, what is surprising is the dearth of non-2003’ers that have been invited to U-17 camps so far this cycle. Just two players born in 2004 have been in any U-17 camps this year, and one of those (Elise Evans) was a last minute injury replacement. The 2018 cycle had at least four players who were born in 2001 make the CONCACAF qualifying and/or FIFA U-17 WWC rosters, while the 2016 cycle had at least five 2000-born players in each official tournament roster, plus a few 2001’ers.
(As the USSoccer.com website is significantly screwed up, I will not be directly linking to the camps rosters or specifically listing all the relevant youths camps at this time. I do plan on adding a bibliography-style post for future reference at some point. Also, it is entirely possible that my counts may have missed a camp, due to U.S. Soccer either never publishing a public roster or the roster article no longer being available on U.S. Soccer’s website.)
AN INCOMPLETE “SHORTLIST”
This unofficial “Shortlist” consists of all players who have attended at least two camps so far in the current U-17 cycle, which started in May 2019, plus a few other notable players.
Four camps have been held so far: Two trips to Europe in May 2019 for UEFA U-16 developmental friendly tournaments, one in Portugal and one in the Czech Republic, a June 2019 domestic training camp in Chula Vista, California, and a September 2019 trip to Sweden for a friendly tournament.
In part because the UEFA developmental tournaments were essentially back-to-back, the USA sent a 20-player “A”-team roster to the Portugal tournament, which featured CONCACAF rival Mexico plus Russia and host Portugal. For the second UEFA tournament, the USA sent a completely different roster of twenty players for matches against the Czech Republic, the Republic of Ireland, and Belgium.
Here are the final rosters for those two European camps. First the Portugal tournament, which featured eighteen 2003-born players and two 2004’ers:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Nadia Cooper (Shattuck – St. Mary’s; Katy, Texas), Neeku Purcell (Reign Academy; Seattle, Wash.)
DEFENDERS (6): Courtney Boone (Legends FC; West Covina, Calif.), Baleigh Bruster (Tophat; Smyrna, Ga.), Andrea Kitahata (San Jose Earthquakes; Hillsborough, Calif.), Ayooluwapo Oke (Tophat; Lawrenceville, Ga.), Shea O’Malley (NC Courage; Cary, N.C.), Lilly Reale (South Shore Select; Hingham, Mass.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Emma Egizii (Beach FC; Downey, Calif.), Tatiana Fung (Legends FC; Fullerton, Calif.), Annie Karich (So Cal Blues SC; Surfside, Calif.), Devin Lynch (Sockers FC; Naperville, Ill.), Alexis Missimo (Solar SC; Southlake, Texas), Jillian Shimkin (FC Fury NY; Rockville Centre, N.Y.)
FORWARDS (6): Trinity Byars (Solar SC; Richardson, Texas), Amelia Horton (Sporting Blue Valley; Olathe, Kansas), Simone Jackson (LAFC Slammers; Redondo Beach, Calif.), Arianna Manrique (Tophat; Buford, Ga.), Allyson Sentnor (South Shore Select; Hanson, Mass.), Amelia White (Fort Wayne United; Fort Wayne, Ind.)
2003-born defender Lilly Reale was on the Portugal roster, but was replaced by Elise Evans, a 2004’er, due to a minor injury.
And, the Czech Republic tournament. All of these players were born in 2003:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Haley Craig (Michigan Hawks; Dexter, Mich.), Jordyn Gunnarson (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas)
DEFENDERS (6): Macy Blackburn (Solar SC; Keller, Texas), Carolyn Calzada (Tophat; Buford, Ga.), Aidan McConnell (Michigan Hawks; Dexter, Mich.), Phoenix Miranda (Leahi SC; Aiea, Hawaii), Madeline Mooney (Reign Academy; Seattle, Wash.), Layne St. George (Reign Academy; Seattle, Wash.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Korbin Albert (Eclipse Select SC; Grayslake, Ill.), Emily Colton (LA Galaxy San Diego; Carlsbad, Calif.), Summer Denigan (Cincinnati Development Academy; Union, Ky.), Sophia Fisher (SC Del Sol; Scottsdale, Ariz.), Riley Gleason (So Cal Blues SC; Mission Viejo, Calif.), Carina Lageyre (Weston FC; Cooper City, Fla.), Bella Sember (New York City FC; Centerport, N.Y.)
FORWARDS (5): Simisola Awujo (Tophat; Atlanta, Ga.), Giovana Costa (Madrid CFF; Weston, Fla.), Karlie Lema (MVLA; Morgan Hill, Calif.), Josephine Master (So Cal Blues SC; Newport Beach, Calif.), Makhiya McDonald (Solar SC; Lancaster, Texas)
All of the first-choice players from the Portugal trip, plus four players from the Czech Republic trip were invited to the only domestic camp held so far this year, which was in Chula Vista, California. Those four players were midfielder Emily Colton, defender Aidan McConnell, forward Karlie Lema, who scored five goals over three matches, and the Brazilian-born Giovana Queiroz Costa, who may no longer be in the U-17 pool for the USA.*
*See her section in The 2020 U-17 USWNT Cycle: Notes On Individual Players for more details on her situation.
Most recently, twenty players were called back for the Sweden trip in September 2019, which featured eighteen players from the original Portugal roster, plus defender Aidan McConnell. One more player from the Portugal roster, Andrea Kitahata, apparently did not travel to Sweden and was replaced by defender Macy Blackburn, who was on the Czech Republic trip roster and had only been invited to one previous camp, a U-15 camp held in Norco, California, back in March 2018. (This change was not announced by U.S. Soccer, but was apparent based on match reports.)
The only player from the Portugal trip who has not been in a second camp so far in 2019 is Elise Evans, the late replacement for defender Lilly Reale.
The shortlist also includes goalkeeper Haley Craig, who played for the U-17s this year during the Czech Republic trip, but has not featured in any other U-17 camps this year. Craig was a regular of the 2018 U-15 cycle, attendind eight of nine camps (all but the Weifang tournament). At the moment, Craig appears to be the most likely third-choice goalkeeper, which means that she has a good shot of making the U-17 WWC roster, which requires three goalkeepers, while CONCACAF qualifying requires just two. The only other U-17 goalkeeper called up in 2019, Jordyn Gunnarson, had never attended a youth camp before the Czech Republic tournament.
Two additional 2003-born players, Kayla Colbert and Kellie Pagador, are also included in this shortlist, even though they have yet to feature in a camp of the current U-17 WNT cycle. Pagador was a regular camp attendee in the previous U-15 cycle, attending eight out of nine camps, missing only the first camp of that cycle.
Kayla Colbert is a more interesting case, as she mostly attended U-16 camps during the past U-15 cycle, attending five U-16 camps and just two U-15 camps. Additionally, Colbert was the youngest player and only 2003-born player to attend the special goalkeeper and attackers camp held in December 2016 at the National Training Center in Carson, California. The other 29 players at that camp were born in the years 2000 to 2002.
The following table lists each “Shortlist” player’s date of birth, height (in inches), general playing position, their expected high school graduation year, and their verbal commit for NCAA soccer, if available.
Table 1: 2020 U-17 USWNT Player Pool “Shortlist” – Summary
PLAYER D.O.B. Ht. Pos. HS YEAR COLLEGE COMMIT Boone, Courtney 04/04/2003 67 DF 2021 California Blackburn, Macy 08/07/2003 67 DF 2021 Texas Tech Bruster, Baleigh 01/04/2003 68 DF 2021 Duke Byars, Trinity 01/29/2003 65 FW 2021 Texas Colton, Emily 06/23/2003 63 MF 2021 North Carolina Cooper, Nadia 01/19/2003 67 GK 2021 Washington State Costa, Giovana 06/21/2003 n/a FW n/a n/a Egizii, Emma 03/06/2003 61 MF 2021 UCLA Fung, Tatiana 02/10/2003 63 MF 2021 Texas Horton, Amelia 07/08/2003 63 FW 2021 Florida State Jackson, Simone 01/28/2003 65 FW 2021 USC Karich, Annie 10/26/2003 68 MF 2022 Santa Clara Kitahata, Andrea 01/01/2003 66 DF 2021 Stanford Lema, Karlie 06/29/2003 69 FW 2021 California Lynch, Devin 12/04/2003 68 MF 2022 Duke Manrique, Arianna 01/21/2003 66 FW 2021 California McConnell, Aidan 02/01/2003 67 DF 2021 Wisconsin Missimo, Alexis 01/30/2003 66 MF 2021 Texas Oke, Ayooluwapo 04/05/2003 63 DF 2021 California O'Malley, Shea 07/23/2003 66 DF 2021 Ole Miss Purcell, Neeku 10/07/2003 69 GK 2022 n/a Reale, Lilly 08/12/2003 67 DF 2021 Boston College Sentnor, Allyson 02/18/2004 61 FW 2022 North Carolina Shimkin, Jillian 02/21/2003 62 MF 2021 Penn State White, Amelia 06/17/2003 64 FW 2022 Penn State ------------------------------------------------------------------------ *Craig, Haley 02/07/2003 69 GK 2021 Stanford *Colbert, Kayla 01/11/2003 62 DF 2021 USC *Pagador, Kellie 04/09/2003 67 DF 2021 Stanford
Position is from the last camp roster the player attended.
Heights are pulled from the 2019 USWNT Media Guide or USSoccer.com
Expected year of high school graduation (“HS Year”) are mostly pulled from USSoccerDA.com player profiles. Other sources, such as TopDrawerSoccer.com may have been used for ECNL and other non-DA players.
The table also includes two notable non-U-17 camps. Most recently, the February 2019 U-18 WNT camp that was held in England, which was attended by forwards Trinity Byars. Alexis Missimo, and Allyson Sentnor, plus defenders Ayo Oke and Baleigh Bruster, and goalkeeper Neeku Purcell. Additionally, the May 2018 U-16 trip to Portugal, which was another UEFA U-16 developmental tournament, and was attended by ten of the current U-17 players.
Two weeks earlier, four other current U-17 players, most notably Trinity Byars and Alexis Missimo, were part of the U-16 squad that won the 2018 U-17 Women’s Torneo Delle Nazioni, which was hosted jointly by Italy and Slovenia. (That camp is included in Table 3.)
How to read the table: If a player attended the camp, their position (from the roster press release) is listed. Otherwise that column is left blank, except for special cases such as when a player is replaced at the last minute or attends a concurrent camp.
Table 2: 2020 U-17 USWNT Player Pool “Shortlist” – Camp Attendance For Current U-17 Cycle and Previous U-15 Cycle
Year: '19 '19 '19 '19 '19 | '18 '18 '18 '18 '18 '18 '17 '17 '17 '17 '17 Team: u17 u17 u17 u17 u18 | u15 u15 u15 u16 u15 u15 u15 u15 u15 u15 u15 Location: SWE Chu CZE POR ENG | CHN NTC NED POR Nor IMG GER NTC Por Tex NTC Boone DF DF DF | DF Blackburn + DF | DF Bruster DF DF DF DF | DF ** DF DF DF DF DF Byars FW FW FW FW | ^^ FW FW FW FW FW Colton MF MF | MF MF Cooper GK GK GK | GK GK GK GK Costa FW FW | Egizii MF MF MF | MF MF MF MF MF MF MF MF MF MF MF Fung MF MF MF | MF MF MF MF MF MF MF FW Horton FW FW | FW FW FW FW FW FW Jackson FW FW FW | FW FW FW FW FW FW FW FW FW FW Karich MF MF MF | MF MF Kitahata # DF DF | DF DF DF DF DF DF DF FW FW FW Lema FW FW | FW FW Lynch MF MF MF | MF MF MF MF MF MF FW Manrique FW FW FW | FW FW FW FW FW FW FW FW FW McConnell DF DF DF | DF DF DF DF DF Missimo MF MF MF MF | ^^ ** FW FW FW MF Oke DF DF DF DF | DF DF DF DF DF DF DF DF FW FW O'Malley DF DF DF | DF Purcell GK GK GK GK | GK GK GK GK GK GK GK GK Reale DF DF # | DF DF DF DF DF DF DF DF DF Sentnor FW FW FW FW | FW FW FW ** MF FW MF Shimkin MF MF MF | MF MF MF MF FW FW FW FW FW White FW FW FW | FW FW FW FW FW FW FW FW FW ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- *Craig GK | GK GK GK GK GK GK GK GK *Colbert | ** DF FW *Pagador | DF ^^ DF DF DF DF DF DF DF
# The player was on the original roster for this camp, but could not attend for some reason.
+ The player was a late addition/replacement.
^^Byars, Missimo, and Pagador were chose to attend an overlapping U-17 USWNT camp instead of this U-15 GNT camp.
** Bruster, Missimo, and Sentnor were chosen to attend the concurrent U-16 GNT camp instead of this U-15 GNT camp.
Several players were selected to attend camps with older age group teams, most notably the scoring duo of Trinity Byars and Alexis Missimo, who each attended at least three U-17 WNT camps in the late run-up to the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. As noted above, Trinity Byars was the only 2003’er to make that tournament roster.
Allyson Sentnor also attended one U-17 camp in 2018, a preparatory invitational tournament in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, right before the U-17 WWC even though she was ineligible for that U-17 WWC, due to a new age floor introduced by FIFA (2018 U-17 WWC regulations – PDF). Sentnor also attended six U-16 camps during 2017 and 2018, including a 2017 trip to Germany to where she had a brace and a hat trick against the hosts.
The below table includes those U-17 and U-16 camps from the previous cycle, as well as the U-14 GNT camps in 2016.
Table 3: U-17 USWNT Player Pool “Shortlist” – Camp Attendance – Notables
Year: '18 '18 '18 '18 '18 '18 '18 '18 '17 '17 '17 | '16 '16 '16 '16 Team: u17 u17 u16 u17 u17 u16 u16 u16 u16 u16 u16 | u14 u14 u14 u14 Location: Fla Chu Chu KOR Kan ITA NTC IMG GER Chu BEL | Sun NTC Col NTC Boone DF | Bruster DF DF DF | DF DF DF DF Byars FW FW FW FW FW | FW FW Egizii | MF MF MF MF Fung MF MF MF | FW Horton | FW FW Jackson | FW Missimo MF MF MF MF FW FW MF | MF MF MF MF Oke DF | Purcell GK | Reale DF | Sentnor FW FW MF MF MF MF FW | MF MF Shimkin FW | FW FW FW *Colbert FW DF DF DF DF | DF DF DF DF *Pagador DF DF DF |
“Shortlist” players who did not attend any of the camps in this table were omitted.
THE CORE SHORTLIST
Of the current twenty first-choice players, seventeen have been on the original rosters of three U-17 rosters this year, plus have been regular attendees of the U-15 GNT 2018 cycle (either throughout the cycle or more recently). The seventeen, in alphabetical order, by position:
Goalkeepers: Nadia Cooper, Neeku Purcell
Defenders: Baleigh Bruster, Andrea Kitahata, Aidan McConnell, Ayo Oke, and Lilly Reale.
Midfielders: Emma Egizii, Tatiana Fung, Devin Lynch, Alexis Missimo, and Jillian Shimkin
Forwards: Trinity Byars, Simone Jackson, Ariana Manrique, Allyson Sentnor, and Amelia White
Aidan McConnell is the only player of this core group who was on the Czech Republic roster. Her and goalkeeper Nadia Cooper are the only core players who have not yet attended any extra youth camps outside the 2018 U-15 and 2020 U-17 cycles.
For more discussion on these core players and other players in the mix, please see the next U-17 USWNT post, which includes video highlights for some players.
Beyond the core seventeen listed above, a few other players have been consistent call-ups for the U-17s in 2019: Defenders Courtney Boone and Shea O’Malley, plus midfielder Annie Karich. Each of these players have been on at least three of the four U-17 rosters in 2019.
Courtney Boone was only called into one 2018 U-15 camp, the Netherlands trip, but has since attended one U-16 camp in 2018, plus all three “A”-team U-17 camps in 2019.
Midfielder Annie Karich and defender Shea O’Malley are the next newest players to this age group. Both were first called in for a domestic camp in July 2018 at the National Training Center in Carson, California, which featured a number of first-timers. Karich made the following month’s Weifang tournament roster and has been on all three “A”-team rosters in 2019 so far.
O’Malley was not part of the Weifang tournament, but, like Karich, has been a mainstay in 2019, attending all three “A”-team camps this year. And, during the camp in Sweden, O’Malley started all three matches, playing against Sweden, Spain, and Germany.
ARE ANY OTHER YOUNGER PLAYERS IN THE MIX? GOOD QUESTION.
As noted above, the only 2004-born player to get regular call-ups with the U-17s so far this cycle is the superlative Allyson Sentnor. Only one other 2004’er, defender Elise Evans has been in a U-17 camp, and that was as a late replacement for the first UEFA development tournament in Portugal.
For the 2004’ers, their current youth team are the U-16s, who have had only one camp so far this year, in part because their target FIFA tournament, the U-20 WWC, is five years away, in 2024. Eleven of the twenty players who attended this year’s first U-16 camp were regular attendees of last cycle’s U-14 GNT, which won the CONCACAF Girls’ U-15 Championship last August. Three of those eleven players are 2005’ers: Olivia Moultrie, Maggie Taitano, and Gisele Thompson. The remaining eight players, all born in 2004, are goalkeepers Nona Reason and Teagan Wy, plus field players Elise Evans, Juliauna Hayward, Katherine Rader, Jaedyn Shaw, Evelyn Shores, and Alyssa Thompson (the older sister of Gisele).
Table 6: Notable U-16 USGNT Players – 2016 Cycle – Summary
PLAYER D.O.B. Ht. Pos. HS YEAR COLLEGE COMMIT Evans, Elise 12/16/2004 67 DF 2022 Stanford Hayward, Juliauna 04/29/2004 62 MF 2022 Duke Rader, Katherine 06/30/2004 65 FW 2022 Duke Reason, Nona 07/01/2004 69 GK 2022 North Carolina Shaw, Jaedyn 11/20/2004 65 FW 2023 North Carolina Shores, Evelyn 12/29/2004 66 DF 2023 North Carolina Thompson, Alyssa 11/07/2004 62 FW 2022 n/a Wy, Teagan 07/30/2004 69 GK 2022 California ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Moultrie, Olivia 09/17/2005 63 MF 2024 (pro contract) Taitano, Maggie 03/04/2005 63 DF 2023 n/a Thompson, Gisele 12/02/2005 59 DF 2024 n/a
One of the 2004-born goalkeepers has a fair chance of making the 2020 U-17 WWC roster, should the USA qualify, as the third goalkeeper. Most likely Teagan Wy, who seems to be the first-choice 2004-born ‘keeper. Wy started both friendly matches against the Netherlands in this year’s U-16 camp (KNVB match reports: June 14, June 16), and was the ‘keeper in both knock-out matches of the 2018 CONCACAF Girls’ U-15 Championship, as well as the group match against Portugal. Both Teagan Wy and Nona Reason are sufficiently tall for top-flight goalkeeping, as each has a listed height of 5’9″.
Of the forwards, Jaedyn Shaw stands out for her goalscoring prowess as well as her confidence: At the CONCACAF tournament, she converted two penalty kicks, including an insurance goal against Mexico in the final.
Midfielder Juliauna Hayward is notable as the only 2018 U-14 player on the 2018 CONCACAF U-15 roster who was in a U-15 camp during the 2018 cycle (the April 2017 camp in College Station, Texas).
Five-foot-seven centerback Elise Evans, who was called into one U-17 camp this year and played the full 80 minutes in both U-16 matches against the Netherlands this year is another likely candidate. Evans scored a goal in the first Netherlands match as well as one during the CONCACAF tournament.
(For reference, summary details about the USA’s performance for the 2018 CONCACAF Girls’ U-15 Championship, including minutes played and a table of goals scorers and assists are included at the end of this post.)
QUALITY TIME: A LOOK AT MINUTES PLAYED IN RECENT MATCHES
So far in 2019, the U-17s have played eight friendly matches using an “A”-Team roster against seven different opponents: Mexico, Russia, and Portugal at the first May 2019 UEFA developmental tournament; China PR, twice, during the June 2019 camp, and finally, Sweden, Spain, and Germany during the recent trip to Sweden.
Official U.S. Soccer match reports have only been released for two of those matches, the win against Mexico, and the win against Sweden. This is not suprising, as publishing match reports for USWNT youth friendlies has never been a priority for U.S. Soccer. However, the opposing team’s association usually publishes at least a brief write-up with line-ups and other details.
Sufficient reports have been found for the Russia, Portugal, Spain, and Germany matches, but unfortunately, no match reports are available for the two matches against China, either from the Chinese Football Association or third-party sources. (U.S. Soccer did tweet out the results of those matches, both victories for the USA, and the USA’s goalscorers.)
The UEFA developmental tournaments, which consist of three 80-minute matches, have special rules and guidance about playing time for individual players, most notably that no player should play more than 120 minutes over two consecutive matches.
The following table includes the six available “A”-team matches, plus the 2018 Weifang Tournament matches, which was contested by the 2018 cycle U-15 GNT. Trinity Byars and Alexis Missimo were notable absences from that roster, most likely because of their U-17 call-ups during the final stretch of preparations for the 2018 U-17 WWC.
In the table, players are sorted by position, then by overall minutes played. Byars and Missimo were moved to the top of the forwards and midfielders sections, respectively, as their numbers are not directly comparable to those first-choice players who were involved in all three tournaments.
Table 4: Minutes Played in Recent U-17 and U-15 Friendlies
2018 WEIFANG | 2019 PORTUGAL | 2019 SWEDEN | PLAYER P. JPN CHN CZE Tot | MEX RUS POR Tot | SWE ESP GER Tot | TOTAL Cooper GK 90 90 180 | 40 -- 80 120 | 90 -- -- 90 | 390 Purcell GK 90 -- -- 90 | 40 80 -- 120 | -- 90 90 180 | 390 Oke DF 90 34 90 214 | 65 19 80 164 | 62 90 65 217 | 595 Bruster DF 74 73 90 237 | 80 40 80 200 | 90 -- -- 90 | 527 Reale DF 90 90 45 225 | | -- 90 90 180 | 405 Kitahata DF 29 90 45 164 | 61 40 80 181 | | 345 Boone DF | 40 80 40 160 | 28 90 25 143 | 303 O'Malley DF | 19 80 -- 99 | 45 55 90 190 | 289 McConnell DF 16 17 45 78 | | 90 -- 90 180 | 258 Pagador DF 61 56 45 162 | | | 162 Evans DF | 40 61 40 141 | | 141 Blackburn DF | | 45 35 -- 80 | 80 Missimo* MF (U-17 Camp) | 40 61 40 141 | 62 90 38 190 | 331 Shimkin MF 45 90 135 | 80 40 40 160 | 45 65 52 162 | 457 Karich MF 90 45 26 161 | 40 40 40 120 | -- 55 65 120 | 401 Lynch MF 45 45 36 126 | 40 40 40 120 | 90 35 25 150 | 396 Fung MF 45 45 54 144 | 15 40 40 95 | 45 25 38 108 | 347 Egizii MF 45 -- 90 135 | 40 19 40 99 | 28 -- 52 80 | 314 Gleason MF -- 45 64 109 | | | 109 Byars* FW (U-17 Camp) | 40 55 29 124 | 90 90 56 236 | 360 Sentnor FW 90 45 90 225 | 61 40 40 141 | 45 90 45 180 | 546 Jackson FW 45 45 90 | 40 55 29 124 | 45 65 90 200 | 414 White FW 66 73 26 165 | 40 25 40 105 | 45 25 45 115 | 385 Manrique FW 66 90 156 | 40 25 51 116 | 45 -- 34 79 | 351 Horton FW | 19 40 51 110 | | 110 Walters FW 24 -- 64 88 | | | 88 Lema FW 24 17 45 86 | | | 86
Blank entries means that the player was not on the roster for that camp.
Dashes (“- -“) mean that the player was an unused substitute for that match.
One curiosity for the most recent matches in Sweden is that centerback Baleigh Bruster only played the first match against the hosts. Given her importance to the defense, one has to wonder if she picked up an injury, either during the Sweden match or during practice.
FRIENDLIES RESULTS SO FAR: SOME POSITIVE SIGNS
So far this cycle, the USA has mostly played against signficantly inferior opponents, and the early results have reflected that. In the first five “A”-team matches, the USA has scored an average of four goals per match, while conceding just two goals in total.
Goal production does not seem to be a significant issue, as the USA has a number of genuine goalscoring threats, most notably Allyson Sentnor (6 goals), Trinity Byars (3), and Alexis Missimo (3). Amelia White (5) and Simone Jackson (4) get less attention, but among the first-choice players, they currently have the second- and third-highest goal tallies this calendar year. Midfielder Jillian Shimkin also has two goals.
May 2019 – UEFA Developmental Tournament (Portugal)
USA 4, Mexico 0 – Goals by Sentnor, Shimkin, Byars, White (USSF)
USA 5, Russia 0 – Goals by White, Missimo, Jackson, Horton, Sentnor (RFS)
USA 6, Portugal 1 – Goals by Manrique, Sentnor, Horton, Missimo, White, Jackson (FPF)
A strong result against continental foe, Mexico, is a good sign, although, of course, it is very early in the cycle. The starting Mexico goalkeeper, Azul Alvarez is a Texas-based player who attended three U-15 camps during the last cycle under Tracey Kevins. In the 2015 CONCACAF Girls’ Under-15 Championship, Alvarez was the starting goalkeeper in the final against the USA, who used a U-14 team for that tournament. The USA won that match 3:0 (USSF).
Highlights are available for the Russia match (follow the “RFS” link, which leads to a match report in English, then click on the “Video” tab). The Russians were no challenge for the USA and the score could have easily been 7:0 or 8:0 in the USA’s favor.
May 2019 – UEFA Developmental Tournament (Czech Republic)
USA 3, Czech Republic 0 – Goals by Mahikya McDonald (2), Lema (USSF)
USA 4, Ireland 0 – Goals by Sember, Lema, Fisher, Denigan (PK) (USSF)
USA 3, Belgium 1 – Goals by Lema (3) (USSF)
Karlie Lema’s standout performance in this tournament, capped off with a hat trick against Belgium earned her a call back into the June 2019 domestic camp.
June 2019 Camp – Chula Vista
USA 3, China PR 1 – Goals by White and Byars, plus an own goal
USA 3, China PR 0 – Goals by Sentnor (2), Shimkin
As mentioned earlier, reports for these two matches are not readily available.
September 2019 – Sweden Preparatory Tournament
USA 2, Sweden 1 – Goals by White, Byars (USSF, SvFF)
USA 3, Spain 4 – Goals by Missimo, Jackson, Sentnor (SvFF, USSF)
USA 1, Germany 1* – Goal by Jackson (SvFF, DFB, USSF)
*USA won the ‘practice’ penalty shoot-out vs Germany, 4:3.
These three matches were somehat disappointing, but also the most enlightening, as Spain and Germany are two of the strongest opponents that the USA will face over this cycle.
The Sweden victory was underwhelming, as the hosts played with ten players for over eighty minutes due to a red card on the goalkeeper for denial of a goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO) before the ten minute mark. Although, conditions were less than ideal, as the weather was rainy and windy.
In the second match, three of Spain’s goal came by way of Madrid-based Giovana Queiroz Costa, who was born in Brazil, but spent several years in Florida. As noted above, Costa was called into two USA U-17 camps this year, and it is unclear what her current status with U.S. Soccer is.
Spain is now consistently developing strong youth teams, especially at the U-17 level, where they have made four of the last five semifinals at the U-17 WWC, including in 2018, where they won the tournament for the first time. So, a close loss to them is not a bad sign this early in the cycle. Likewise, a low-scoring friendly draw at the youth level to Germany is not in itself a bad sign at this stage.
And, as noted earlier, in the last two matches, the USA were playing without their centerback anchor, Baleigh Bruster, for an unknown reason. Given the competition, one would expect her to feature in at least one of the matches, if not both.
A LOOK AT RECENT LINE-UPS AND SUBSTITUTION PATTERNS
All available “A”-team matches for the current U-17 cycle* are included below, as well as the previous U-15 cycle’s matches at the Weifang tournament (August 2018) plus a pair of matches against the Netherlands (June 2018).
*As noted earlier, reports for the two matches in June 2019 against China are not available.
Substitutions are indicated by slashes (“/”), thus “Pagador/Kitahata” should be interpreted as Pagador starting the match and being subbed out for Kitahata.
For some of these matches (Russia, Spain), the only available match reports only show the times when players were subbed in or out, and not who specifically replaced whom. For times when multiple players were replaced, their substituted-in replacement are best educated guesses.
Alexis Missimo was absent from the first five matches listed, while Trinity Byars also missed the Weifang tournament, as both players were in the mix for the 2018 U-17 WWC. So those line-ups are especially probabative for whom Tracey Kevins prefers when her top-choice attacking midfielder or top-choice central forward are not available.
June 2018 – Netherlands Camp
2018 U-15 vs. Netherlands #1
OB: Oke, Pagador/Kitahata
CB: Reale/Boone, McConnell
MF: Lynch/Gleason, Lageyre/Egizii, Sentnor/Shimkin
FW: Horton/Manrique, Jackson/McDonald, Byars/White
2018 U-15 vs. Netherlands #2
OB: Oke, Kitahata
CB: Reale/McConnell, Boone
MF: Gleason/Lynch, Lageyre/Sentnor, Egizii/Horton
FW: Manrique/McDonald, Jackson/Byars, White/Shimkin
August 2018 – Weifang Tournament
2018 U-15 vs. Japan
OB: Oke, Pagador/Kitahata
CB: Bruster/McConnell, Reale
MF: Karich, Lynch/Shimkin, Egizii/Fung
FW: Manrique/Lema, Sentonr, White/Walters
2018 U-15 vs. China
OB: Kitahata, Pagador/Oke
CB: Bruster/McConnell, Reale
MF: Karich/Lynch, Fung/Gleason, Shimkin
FW: Jackson/Sentnor, White/Lema, Manrique
2018 U-15 vs. Czech Republic
OB: Oke, Kitahata/Pagador
CB: Bruster, McConnell/Reale
MF: Fung/Lynch, Gleason/Karich, Egizii
FW: Lema/Jackson, Sentnor, Walters/White
May 2019 – UEFA U-16 Developmental Tournament in Portugal
2019 U-17 vs. Mexico
OB: Oke/Fung, Kitahata/O’Malley
CB: Bruster, Boone/Evans
MF: Karich/Lynch, Shimkin, Egizii/Missimo
FW: Jackson/White, Sentnor/Horton, Manrique/Byars
(the Fung for Oke substitution is an odd outlier)
2019 U-17 vs. Russia (POR)
OB: O’Malley, Kitahata/Bruster
CB: Boone, Evans/Oke
MF: Lynch/Karich, Fung/Shimkin, Missimo/Egizii
FW: Jackson/Manrique, Horton/Sentnor, Byars/White
2019 U-17 vs. Portugal (POR)
OB: Oke, Kitahata
CB: Bruster, Evans/Boone
MF: Shimkin/Fung, Karich/Lynch, Egizii/Missimo
FW: Sentnor/White, Manrique/Byars, Horton/Jackson
September 2019 – Preparatory Tournament in Sweden
2019 U-17 vs. Sweden (SWE)
OB: Oke/Boone, O’Malley/Blackburn
CB: Bruster, McConnell
MF: Lynch, Fung/Shimkin, Missimo/Egizii
FW: Jackson/Manrique, White/Sentnor, Byars
2019 U-17 vs. Spain (SWE)
OB: Oke, O’Malley/Blackburn
CB: Reale, Boone
MF: Karich/Lynch, Shimkin/Fung, Missimo
FW: Jackson/White, Sentnor, Byars
(it’s possible Oke and Boone could be reversed)
2019 U-17 vs. Germany (SWE)
OB: Oke/Boone, O’Malley
CB: Reale, McConnell
MF: Karich/Lynch, Shimkin/Fung, Egizii/Missimo
FW: Jackson, White/Sentnor, Byars/Manrique
As mentioned in the previous section, Bruster only played in the first match of the Sweden preparatory tournament.
A GENERALIZED DEPTH CHART AND LIKELY FIRST-CHOICE LINE-UP
Based on the above starting line-ups and substitution patterns, as well as camp call-ups, and other factors, one can get a good idea of which players Tracey Kevins for which positions. However, it is still early in the cycle, so the overall roster and specific field positions are far from locked down.
The following depth chart, or perhaps more correctly identified as a “depth list,” is not exhaustive of the positions where certain players could be used. For example, in the midfield, the players listed under the “8” role could easily step into attacking roles, if required. Likewise, the top choices for center forward should also be viewed as the top choices for wingers.
Goalkeeper: Neeku Purcell, Nadia Cooper, Haley Craig, Jordyn Gunnarson
Centerbacks: Baleigh Bruster, Lilly Reale, Aidan McConnell, Courtney Boone, Elise Evans
Outside Backs: Ayo Oke, Andrea Kitahata, Shea O’Malley, Macy Blackburn
Defensive Midfielder (“6”): Annie Karich, Devin Lynch
Second Midfielder (“8”): Tatiana Fung, Jillian Shimkin (too close to call)
Attacking Midfielder (“10”): Alexis Missimo, Emma Egizii (may be an “8”)
Center Forward: Trinity Byars, Amelia White, Allyson Sentnor
Other Forwards: Simone Jackson, Ariana Manrique, Karlie Lema, Amelia Horton
The top three choices for center backs, Bruster, Reale, and McConnell, have all been consistent starters in recent matches. Boone has also seen consistent minutes in defense, but whether she is preferred in central defense or on the outside has yet to be settled. And, at this time, the 2004-born Evans is most likely an alternate in case of an injury to one of the more-preferred players.
For outside backs, Courtney Boone may be another option, as in the two most recent matches (Spain and Germany), she was subbed in for Ayo Oke, who has more-or-less locked down a starting outside back position. Kellie Pagador could be another option, though she has yet to be called up during this current U-17 cycle.
In the midfield, Alexis Missimo is the only clear starter, being the top choice for the attacking midfielder role by a country mile. Emma Egizii is regularly subbed in for Missimo, which most likely either means that she is another attacking midfielder option, or possibly an option for the “8” role, with another midfielder moving up into that role. As for the “8” role, that seems to be a toss-up between Tatiana Fung and Jillian Shimkin, who both have excellent technical abilities.
Meanwhile, the defensive midfielder position appears to be a choice between Annie Karich and Devin Lynch, though based on the most recent matches in Sweden, Karich seems to have a slight edge for the “6” role.
Up top, Trinity Byars is a near-lock for the starting center forward position. Amelia White appears to be second choice for the central position, while the first choice for a winger position. The other winger spot would either go to Allyson Sentnor or Simone Jackson. Although Sentnor is a special talent, her small size and lack of all-out speed could make her less useful on the flanks.
On the other hand, Sentnor may be more likely to start if used centrally, perhaps as something resembling a false nine, or if used in a flexible line-up, say with Byars and White, where they could switch positions with each other.
Beyond those four, Arianna Manrique appears to be the fifth-choice, After her are Karlie Lema and Amelia Horton, who are currently outside the top tier of forwards.
Not included in the list of forwards is Madrid-based Giovana Queiroz Costa, who may or may not be eligible to play in official matches for the United States. For Spain, against Sweden, she played as a center forward, which also appears to be her primary position for Madrid CFF B. (Costa wears #9 for her club team, as well as for Spain, and wore the #9 shirt for the USA during the UEFA developmental tournament in the Czech Republic.)
Current Likely First-Choice Starting Line-Up
The following is based on a standard American 4-3-3 formation, with one primarily defensive midfielder.
OB: Oke, Kitahata|O’Malley
CB: Bruster, Reale
MF: Karich (6), Fung|Shimkin (8), Missimo (10)
FW: Byars, Sentnor, White
Two spots are toss-ups: The “8”-role midfielder, between Fung or Shimkin, which is discussed above, and the second outside back position. For that spot, assuming that Kitahata is healthy, she would probably be slightly preferred over the less experienced O’Malley, at least for the time-being.
Byars is the default center forward, with Sentnor and White in winger positions.
THE ROAD AHEAD
As mentioned earlier, the CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship kicks off in April 2020, which give the USA six more months to finalize a roster for that tournament.
The USA should have at least five camps before April 2020: Two or three during the remainder of 2019, plus at least three camps in early 2020.
Although the qualification process is different this time, absent an extraordinary situation, the USA should qualify as one of the top three teams in CONCACAF. The one cause for the concern is the addition of two extra knock-out rounds. A loss in the round of the sixteen is highly unlikely, but if Canada, Mexico, or Haiti muck it up in group stage, one of those teams could be a potential quarterfinal match-up. Add in outside factors such as a poor playing surface, injuries, and/or inferior refereeing, and the chance of a non-win becomes a significant possibility, especially at the youth level where performance inconsistency is normal.
For additional U-17 USWNT coverage, see:
The 2020 U-17 USWNT Cycle: Notes On Individual Players
ADDENDUM: 2018 CONCACAF GIRLS’ U-15 CHAMPIONSHIP DETAILS
The following table shows the minutes played in each match of the 2018 CONCACAF Girls’ U-15 Championship , which follows a unique format compared to other age group tournaments. Most notably, matches are 70 minutes long, consisting of two 35-minute halves, and six substitutes are allowed per match, instead of the normal three for regular-time official matches.
Additionally, the tournament was split into two divisions, with the USA in the top division, which consisted of three groups of four teams. Only the top team in each of the three groups, plus the best runner-up (which was the USA, due to a loss to Portugal plus blow-out wins against the other group teams) made the four-team knockout bracket.
The USA’s final against Mexico was scoreless after 70 minutes of normal time, so two 10-minute overtime periods were played. The USA ended up scoring three goals in extra time of that match.
Table A1: 2018 U-14 USGNT – Minutes Played at the 2018 CONCACAF U-15 Girls’ Championship
PLAYER Pos. JAM POR SLV POR MEX TOTAL Wy, Teagan GK 70 70 90 230 Reason, Nona GK 70 70 140 Taitano, Maggie DF 51 70 19 70 90 300 Thompson, Gisele DF 35 70 35 64 90 294 Van Zanten, Amelia DF 70 19 51 70 55 265 Shores, Evelyn DF 35 70 35 70 35 245 Tabion, Maia DF 70 70 6 55 201 Evans, Elise DF 19 51 70 * 35 175 Hayward, Juliauna MF 35 51 35 70 90 281 Cook, Sofia MF 70 27 35 64 35 231 McCormack, Yuna MF 35 35 8 70 46 194 Cagle, Maggie MF 35 35 70 44 184 Moultrie, Olivia MF 35 43 62 6 35 181 Shaw, Jaedyn FW 35 70 35 70 90 300 Thompson, Alyssa FW 35 70 19 70 90 284 Rader, Katherine FW 70 19 35 53 55 232 Montoya, Allison FW 35 51 51 17 20 174 Frias, America FW 35 19 70 35 159
*Elise Evans enter the semifinal match against Portugal during second-half stoppage time.
The 2018 U-14 USGNT scored 22 goals, including one own goal, over the tournament: 8 goals against both Jamaica and El Salvador, plus 3 goals each against Portugal and Mexico in the knockout matches. However the USA was held scoreless by Portugal in the middle group match, which the guest team won, in part, due to two penalty kicks conceded by the United States.
Jaedyn Shaw led the team with five goals, including two from the penalty spot, and scored the championship-winner against Mexico in the final. Juliauna Hayward led the team in assists with five.
Table A2: 2018 U-15 USGNT – Goalscorers and Assists Earned in the 2018 CONCACAF U-15 Girls’ Championship
G A P Min. Shaw 5 1 11 300 Montoya 2 4 8 174 Hayward 1 5 7 281 Moultrie 3 1 7 181 Rader 2 3 7 232 Frias 3 0 6 159 Thompson, A. 2 2 6 284 Cook 1 1 3 231 Evans 1 0 2 175 Van Zanten 1 0 2 265 Cagle 0 1 1 184 Own Goal 1
G – goals, A – assists, P – points (for sorting), Min. – total minutes played.