U-20 USWNT: Roster for 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship Announced

Prologue:  This has not been a normal U-20 cycle.

* * *

With Laura Harvey taking the helm of the Under-20 United States Women’s National Team, some change in player selection was to be expected, but…

u20-2020-cu20w

This roster has a few outright headscratchers…

  • Center back Sierra Enge (Stanford) did not attend any previous U-20 camps  this cycle.  Not even Harvey’s first camp in charge, last month.
  • The last known call-up for outside back Brianna Martinez (Notre Dame) was the LaManga tournament in February 2019.
  • Meanwhile, midfielder Astrid Wheeler (Stanford commit) is relegated to being an alternate.

Yet, also, a few welcomed headliners…

  • The Portland Thorns’ #1 draft pick, Sophia Smith is back after recovering from a serious ankle injury and attending two senior USWNT camps that conflicted with the last two U-20 camps.
  • Likely center back duo Naomi Girma (Stanford) and Maycee Bell (North Carolina) were both named to the roster after not being included on the published roster for last month’s camp.
  • The fourth 2000-born call-up to December’s USWNT identification camp, Brianna Pinto (North Carolina).
  • And, UCLA standout forward/midfielder Mia Fishel, whose first known call-up this cycle was January’s camp.

All things considered, one cannot complain too much about this specific roster, as it looks to have a very solid core of capable players.  Besides the “welcomed headliners” above, the roster also includes regular headliners such as wingers Trinity Rodman (Washington State commit) and Rebecca Jarrett (Virginia), plus midfielder Alexa Spaanstra (Virginia).

External Link:  Harvey Names USA Roster For 2020 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship In Dominican Republic (U.S. Soccer)

And, with only two available tickets to the U-20 WWC, the U-20 USWNT will need all the offensive firepower and defensive fortitude it can muster, especially with the tournament’s new, extended qualifying format.

Oh, and then there’s a likely date with Canada* in an all-or-nothing semifinal.

*Worth noting is that Canada will be without at least three key players:  Forward Jordyn Huitema, converted outside back Jayde Riviere, and midfielder Julia Grosso.  All three age-eligible players will likely be on Canada’s senior WNT roster for the friendly tournament in France.

Currently, the U-20 USWNT is gathered in Miami, Florida, for a short “pre-camp” that runs from Thursday, February 13th to Tuesday, February 18th.

In this article:

After the below roster listing and tables is more discussion of the players selected – and a few not selected – for this qualifying roster.

cu20w-2020-groups

For the full schedule and knockout bracket, see CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship: Costa Rica and Panama Out, Bermuda and Barbados In.


U-20 USWNT ROSTER FOR 2020 CONCACAF WOMEN’S UNDER-20 CHAMPIONSHIP

Parenthetical Key:  Current Team; Hometown; NCAA Commit (for those not yet in college)
Current Team hyperlinks go to the player’s NCAA team profile, if applicable.
NCAA Commit hyperlinks go to official signing announcements on the school’s athletics website.

Goalkeepers (2):
Claudia Dickey (North Carolina; Charlotte, N.C.)
Julia Dohle (Penn State; Scarsdale, N.Y.)

Defenders (7):
Maycee Bell (North Carolina; Wichita, Kan.)
Sierra Enge (Stanford; Cardiff, Calif.)
Naomi Girma (Stanford; San Jose, Calif.)
Shae Holmes (Washington; Highlands Ranch, Colo.)
Brianna Martinez (Notre Dame; Albuquerque, N.M.)
Emily Mason (PDA; Flemington, N.J.; Rutgers)
Kennedy Wesley (Stanford; Rossmoor, Calif.)

Midfielders (6):
Talia DellaPeruta (FC Köln / NTH Tophat; Cumming, Ga.; North Carolina)
Katelyn “Katie” Duong (Minnesota; Portland, Ore.)
Jenna Nighswonger (Florida State; Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Brianna Pinto (North Carolina; Durham, N.C.)
Alexa Spaanstra (Virginia; Brighton, Mich.)
Summer Yates (Washington; Pasco, Wash.)

Forwards (5):
Mia Fishel (UCLA; San Diego, Calif.)
Rebecca Jarrett (Virginia; Clifton, N.J.)
Samantha Meza (Solar SC; Dallas, Texas; North Carolina)
Trinity Rodman (So Cal Blues SC; Newport Beach, Calif.; Washington State)
Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC, prev. Stanford; Highlands Ranch, Colo.)

Alternates Attending Pre-Camp (3):
Meagan McClelland (Rutgers; Kearny, N.J.)
Natalia Staude (Virginia; Atlanta, Ga.)
Astrid Wheeler (Concorde Fire SC; Atlanta, Ga.; Stanford)


Detailed Roster for CONCACAF Qualifying

The following table provides height, date of birth, and age information for each player on the qualifying roster, as well as the three alternates attending the pre-camp.

Height and date of birth is mostly pulled from USWNT media guides, which included detailed player pool lists for youth national teams. Some heights listed below may differ from a player’s collegiate profile.  For example, UCLA lists Mia Fishel’s height at 5’7″, but her listed height for the 2018 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup is 165cm or 5’5″.

Age is as of the start of the qualifying tournament (22 February 2020).

Table 1:  U-20 USWNT Roster for CONCACAF Qualifying – Detailed

Player               P.   Ht.       D.O.B.      Age    Team
Dickey, Claudia      GK   5'10"   01/06/2000   20.13   North Carolina
Dohle, Julia         GK   6'0"    02/06/2001   19.04   Penn State
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bell, Maycee         DF   5'11"   09/18/2000   19.43   North Carolina
Enge, Sierra         DF   5'5"    02/23/2000   20.00   Stanford
Girma, Naomi         DF   5'5"    06/14/2000   19.69   Stanford
Holmes, Shae         DF   5'8"    03/08/2000   19.96   Washington
Martinez, Brianna    DF   5'7"    04/22/2000   19.84   Notre Dame
Mason, Emily         DF   5'6"    10/23/2002   17.33   PDA
Wesley, Kennedy      DF   5'4"    03/08/2001   18.96   Stanford
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
DellaPeruta, Talia   MF   5'5"    04/19/2002   17.85   FC Köln / NTH Tophat
Duong, Katelyn       MF   5'?"*   03/27/2001   18.91   Minnesota
Nighswonger, Jenna   MF   5'3"    11/28/2000   19.23   Florida State
Pinto, Brianna       MF   5'5"    05/24/2000   19.75   North Carolina
Spaanstra, Alexa     MF   5'5"    02/01/2000   20.06   Virginia
Yates, Summer        MF   5'4"    06/17/2000   19.68   Washington
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fishel, Mia          FW   5'4"    04/30/2001   18.81   UCLA
Jarrett, Rebecca     FW   5'6"    04/13/2000   19.86   Virginia
Meza, Samantha       FW   5'2"    11/07/2001   18.29   Solar SC
Rodman, Trinity      FW   5'7"    05/20/2002   17.76   So Cal Blues SC
Smith, Sophia        FW   5'6"    08/10/2000   19.53   Portland Thorns FC
---Alternates--------------------------------------------------------------
McClelland, Meagan   GK   5'10"   08/05/2000   19.55   Rutgers
Staude, Natalia      DF   5'7"    04/30/2001   18.81   Virginia
Wheeler, Astrid      MF   5'5"    08/20/2001   18.51   Concorde Fire SC

 *A more-or-less current height for Katie Duong is not readily available, as she was listed in only one prior pool list, back in 2014 (at 4’11”), and Minnesota does not list heights for their current roster.  Based on pre-match photos from December’s Nike Friendlies, Duong height’s appears to be around 5’1″ or 5’2″.

Camp Attendance Table

This next table shows which U-20 USWNT camps each player is known to have attended during this current U-20 cycle, which started with the Nike Friendlies in December 2018.  Except for special cases, camp attendance is indicated by the player’s listed position for that particular camp.

Rosters were published for all camps, except the June 2019 camp at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.  However, most of the players who attended that camp are known because the the U-20 USWNT played two friendlies against Germany.  Match summaries, with starting line-ups and substitutions, for both friendlies were posted on the DFB’s website (see here for links to those summaries).  Attendance for this camp is indicated by a “Y”, except for goalkeepers.

Camp Summary

Table 2:  Camp Attendance For Current U-20 USWNT Cycle

                                  '20   '19   '19   '19   '19   '19   '18
                                  Jan   Dec   Nov   Aug   Jun   Feb   Dec
Player               P.   B.YR.   LwR   Nik   NTC   Chu   FVa   LaM   Nik
Dickey, Claudia      GK   2000     GK                                  GK
Dohle, Julia         GK   2001     GK    GK    GK          GK    GK
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bell, Maycee         DF   2000           **                      DF    DF
Enge, Sierra         DF   2000 
Girma, Naomi         DF   2000           *#                 Y    DF
Holmes, Shae         DF   2000     DF    DF
Martinez, Brianna    DF   2000                                   DF    DF
Mason, Emily         DF   2002     DF    DF    DF
Wesley, Kennedy      DF   2001     DF
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
DellaPeruta, Talia   MF   2002     MF    MF          FW
Duong, Katelyn       MF   2001     MF    MF          MF
Nighswonger, Jenna   MF   2000     FW    FW                 Y
Pinto, Brianna       MF   2000     MF    **                 Y    MF    MF
Spaanstra, Alexa     MF   2000     MF    MF                 Y    FW    FW
Yates, Summer        MF   2000     MF    MF                      FW
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fishel, Mia          FW   2001     FW 
Jarrett, Rebecca     FW   2000     FW    FW                 Y    @@    FW
Meza, Samantha       FW   2001                 FW    FW     Y    FW
Rodman, Trinity      FW   2002     FW    FW    FW     #
Smith, Sophia        FW   2000     **    **
---Alternates------------------------------------------------------------
McClelland, Meagan   GK   2000     GK    GK                GK
Staude, Natalia      DF   2001     DF    DF                      DF
Wheeler, Astrid      MF   2001     MF    MF    MF    MF     Y
---Birth Year Counts (All Attendees)-------------------------------------
2000                               11    15     2     0    11    11    11    
2001                               10     9     8     8     9     8     5
2002                                5     8    12    12     2     1     4

@@ – Jarrett attended a concurrent England U-19 WNT camp
# – On the original roster, but was a late scratch due to injury
** – Attended an overlapping senior USWNT camp
*# – Girma was called into the December USWNT identification camp, but was withdrawn due to a minor injury


The Qualifying Roster:  Line By Line

Just to be clear:  None of the criticism in this article is directed at the players selected or not selected.  The unusual selections are a symptom of how this cycle has been managed so far, definitely regarding camp frequency and scheduling, but, perhaps, player selection and scouting processes as well.

GOALKEEPERS

For the two required goalkeeper slots, Harvey has chosen one regular call-up, the 6’0″ Julia Dohle, plus the 5’10” Claudia Dickey, who attended the first two camps of the cycle.  While neither selection counts a surprise, some readers may be surprised to learn that Dohle, who is a freshman at Penn State, did not play in any matches last year for the Nittany Lions.

The two-sport Dickey, on the other hand, played in 26 matches last season, as part of the Tar Heels’ platoon ‘keeper system.  Though, for the final five matches of the NCAA tournament, Dickey started and played every minute for North Carolina.

Further reading and/or viewing:

DEFENDERS

Here is where things get interesting.  Center backs Naomi Girma and Maycee Bell, both make the roster after not being named on the January camp roster.  While those two selections are far from controversial, the choice of the third center back is… certainly interesting.

Stanford redshirt freshman Sierra Enge is included despite not attending any prior U-20 camp this cycle.^  Her last known youth national team camp was a U-18 camp in October 2018.  Prior to “a torn knee ligament” injury in January 2017 (SanDiegoUnionTribune.com), Enge had been a regular attendee of the 2016 U-16 cycle, while also being called into multiple U-17 camps that cycle.  And, before that, Enge attended three U-14 camps in 2014, so, on one hand Enge appears to have the requisite and desired abilities, but from an on-field chemistry perspective, this selection is a bit puzzling.

^This fact is confirmed in U.S. Soccer’s roster release.

Another curious call-up is outside back Brianna Martinez of Notre Dame, whose last known U-20 call-up was a year ago, in February 2019.  Martinez, who played as a right outside back during the 2018 Nike Friendlies and has been earmarked for that position since at least 2016 (abqjournal.com), was a regular call-up during the 2018 U-18 and 2016 U-16 cycles, while also earning a few U-17 call-ups during the earlier cycle.

The youngest player on the roster, Rutgers commit Emily Mason is a relative newcomer, only attending her first U-20 camp back in November 2019, apparently after making a positive impression at the previous month’s U-18 camp.  In December’s Nike Friendlies, Mason started both matches at right outside back for the first-choice squad.  Before October 2019, Mason just had three previous known call-ups:  Two U-14 camps in 2016 and a U-16 camp in early 2017.

Washington State redshirt freshman Shae Holmes also started on the backline in both matches for the first-choice squad at December’s Nike Friendlies, albeit on the left side.  That camp was Holmes’ first since November 2017, as she suffered two season-ending knee injuries, first in her senior year of high school, and then in August 2018, just minutes into her NCAA career.  (essay by Holmes)

Another option at left outside back is 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year Kennedy Wesley, who returned to the youth national team fold last month, for her first camp since suffering an ACL tear in the summer of 2018.  Wesley is a veteran of two U-17 cycles, making the CONCACAF qualifying roster in both 2016 and 2018 as well as the 2016 U-17 WWC roster, but missed last cycle’s U-17 WWC due to that ACL injury.  The Stanford freshman started all but one of the National Champion’s final 14 matches last season.

The USA is missing one potential starting outside back due to injury:  The highly regarded Penn State freshman Kate Wiesner, who suffered a season-ending injury back in September 2019. (collegian.psu.edu)  Her timetable to return to full match fitness remains uncertain.

Meanwhile, relegated to alternate status is Virginia center back Natalia Staude, who played every minute of the 2018 U-17 WWC for the USA.

Further reading and/or viewing:

MIDFIELDERS

Anchoring this cycle’s midfield are North Carolina’s Brianna Pinto and Virginia’s Alexa Spaanstra, who are both veterans of the previous U-20 cycle, having each been named to the roster for the last U-20 WWC.   Both players were regular attendees this cycle, though Pinto did miss the Nike Friendlies due to the senior USWNT identification camp.

Another offensive-minded option is Washington midfielder/forward Summer Yates, though she was used as a center forward during December’s Nike Friendlies.  Also, Mia Fishel, who is listed as a forward, is an additional attacking midfielder option.

As for the defensive-minded “6” position, Sophie Jones’ season-ending injury back in October 2019 made that spot a wide-open race.  Florida State’s Jenna Nighswonger is a possible option, as tested in the recent Nike Friendlies, however her more natural position is closer to goal.

North Carolina commit Talia DellaPeruta is another possibility for both the “6” and “8” positions (as well as an emergency option at outside back, where she was utilized during the 2018 U-17 cycle).  DellaPeruta is currently based in Germany, where she has been training with FC Köln since at least last spring.  (Her situation with FC Köln is unclear, as there is zero mention of her on the fc.de website, nor has there been any news articles on DellaPeruta discussing her time in Germany.)

A third option for the “6” is Minnesota Gopher Katelyn Duong, who popped up in August 2019 for her first youth camp in over four years, having last attended a U-15 camp in March 2015 and a U-14 camp the year before that.  Notably, Duong is the only player from the second-choice squad at last December’s Nike Friendlies to make this qualifying roster.  During that camp, Duong started at the “6” spot in both her matches.

Although listed as a defender, Sierra Enge is an additional possibility for the “6”, as she had been used in the midfield by Stanford last season.

A headscratcher exclusion is that of Stanford commit Astrid Wheeler, who was a regular of the 2018 U-17 WWC cycle, making both the qualifying roster and the U-17 WWC roster.  Wheeler, an attendee of all but one U-20 camp in 2019, is apparently fit enough to attend the pre-camp as one of the three alternates, but not regarded enough to make the final roster, whether as a spare midfielder or even as a spare center back, instead of Enge, who has the same listed height as Wheeler.

Further reading and/or viewing:

FORWARDS

Sophia Smith is back.  That is the big news for this current roster.  The Portland Thorns’ #1 pick is the U-20 player most likely to be capped by the senior USWNT – and perhaps could have been already capped, if not for her ankle injury in October 2018 – sometime this year.

Smith, who scored 17 goals in her recovery-shortened sophomore season for Stanford, including a hat trick against UCLA in last year’s College Cup semifinal, not only offers impressive scoring prowess, but also highlight reel technical abilities. (YouTube)

While there is no question that Smith is expected to be in the starting line-up for the key matches during this tournament, there is an open question of where in those line-ups Harvey will put Smith.  The most likely position is central striker, though winger is also a possibility.

If Smith does take center stage, flanking her on the right wing will likely be the speedy Trinity Rodman, who had the USA’s only official assist in the 2018 U-17 WWC.  On the left flank, Virginia’s Rebecca Jarrett is a likely starter, as both her and Rodman were the starting winger pairs of the first-choice team at last December’s Nike Friendlies.

Short yet crafty North Carolina commit Samantha Meza is an additional flank option for Harvey.  Meza is another interesting choice as she was not listed for both the 2019 Nike Friendlies and  the following January camp.

Last but certainly not least is the versatile Mia Fishel, who scored 14 goals as a freshman last year for UCLA, including a brace against Florida State in the NCAA tournament quarterfinal.  Fishel had been primarily (if not almost exclusively) viewed as a midfielder during the previous U-17 cycle and the U-15 cycle before that, so her listing as a forward on the roster for last month’s camp and now this qualifying roster suggests that Harvey sees a different role for Fishel.  Though, with the extended tournament format, it is very possible that Fishel might also see time in the midfield.

With the tournament’s extended format and only five listed forwards, there is a good chance that one or more other players could also see time on the front line, unless Harvey surprises again by going with a 4-4-2 or other two-up-front formation.  As mentioned above Summer Yates has been used as a center forward, while Jenna Nighswonger had been listed as a forward on the last two camp rosters.

Further reading and/or viewing:


Notables

Birth Year Breakdown:  The roster features 12 players born in 2000 (the cut-off year), 5 players born in 2001, and 3 players born in 2002.  The three 2002-born players, Talia DellaPeruta, Emily Mason, and Trinity Rodman will be eligible for the 2022 U-20 WWC, which should be hosted by the nation(s) that will be awarded the 2023 WWC.

Age Numbers:  The average age is 19.21, while the median age is 19.48.  The youngest player is outside back Emily Mason at 17.33 years and the oldest is Claudia Dickey at 20.13.

Tournament Birthdays:  Three players have birthdays during the qualifying tournament, including two players who are hoping that they will still be in Santo Domingo for their shared birthday.  Both Shae Holmes (2000) and Kennedy Wesley (2001), were born on March 8th, which falls on the last day of the tournament.  Two weeks earlier, Sierra Enge has her birthday on Sunday, February 23rd.

School Breakdown:  Both 2019 College Cup finalists, Stanford and North Carolina, have 3 active players on the roster, though with Sophia Smith leaving early, Stanford leads with 4 players from last season.  Counting future attendees, North Carolina comes out on top with 5.  Meanwhile, Virginia and Washington are the only other collegiate schools with multiple representatives.

The full breakdown:

  • Stanford:  3 (plus 1 alumna)
  • North Carolina: 3 (plus 2 commits)
  • Virginia:  2
  • Washington:  2

Florida State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Penn State, and UCLA each provide one active player, while Rutgers and Washington State each have one commit.

U-20 Returnees:  Four players on the roster were core members of the U-20 USWNT during the 2018 cycle.  Naomi Girma, Sophia Smith, and Brianna Pinto each made the roster for both CONCACAF qualifying and the U-20 WWC, while Alexa Spaanstra also made the U-20 WWC roster.  A few other players – Julia Dohle, Jenna Nighswonger, and Summer Yates – also had U-20 call-ups last cycle.

U-17 Alumni, Cycle of 2018:  Five players – Talia DellaPeruta, Julia Dohle, Mia Fishel, Samantha Meza, and Trinity Rodman – made the U-17 WWC roster.  Only Fishel, Rodman, and DellaPeruta featured for the USA in that tournament.  All but Rodman was on the CONCACAF qualifying roster in 2018. Kennedy Wesley was named to qualifying roster, but not the U-17 WWC, due to an ACL injury.

U-17 Alumni, Cycle of 2016:  Five players – Naomi Girma, Brianna Pinto, Sophia Smith, Alexa Spaanstra, and Kennedy Wesley – were on the USA’s roster for both CONCACAF qualifying and the U-17 WWC.  Maycee Bell, Sierra Enge, Shae Holmes, and Brianna Martinez each had multiple call-ups during the 2016 cycle.