The three teams to join the USA in a U17 tournament in early February are set: Japan, People’s Republic of China, and New Zealand. Matches will be played on February 5th, 7th and 9th; all doubleheaders, to be played at the National Training Center in Carson, CA. Matches will be free (including parking!) and open to the public.
All three visiting teams have qualified for the World Cup, which will held in Costa Rica from March 15th to April 4th. As this tournament will end just a month before the World Cup begins, that makes for long trip here and back (all three teams from across the Pacific), just to do it again weeks later. But a month is surely too long to just hang around in North or Central America, especially for teenagers who should be in school; if they stay, they’d be away from home (and family and school) for two months. Interesting!
There were some changes to the roster since last week’s camp: five players added, and five dropped.
One of the five “new” players isn’t really new at all: Lauren Rood, primary US goalkeeper in the World Cup qualifying tournament, is back for the first time since then. The other four are call-ups from the U15s: Ashley Sanchez, Karlie Paschall and Taryn Torres were all ID’d in U14 camps last year, while Frankie Tagliaferri was ID’d in 2012 and made the jump to the U17s last year (and was on WCQ roster). All four were in a U15 camp earlier this month. Torres and Sanchez are midfielders, while Paschall is a defender.
The five dropped from the camp roster for this tournament were not on the WCQ roster, either. Four of them had been with the U17s earlier in 2013, while Milan Moses hadn’t been in a US camp since the U14s in 2011.
The changes balance the roster tactically a bit – the last camp was leaning heavily towards forwards – but also skews the roster even younger, with three of them directly out of this year’s U14 pool. After all, having missed the World Cup this year, this tournament is a chance for the U17s to not just finish out this cycle, but – for the young ones – to prepare for the next one as well.
The US hasn’t ever played New Zealand at the U17 level. USA hasn’t played China since 2012 – a whole other cycle; they drew 0-0 then.
USA played Japan in April of last year in Costa Rica, early in the current U17 cycle; they lost 1-4 then, their only outright loss outside of the penalty shoot-out loss to Mexico, which disqualified the US from the World Cup. Of the 24 players on the roster, just 12 were on that team last April. It was the first U17 roster for both Mallory Pugh and Madison Haley, who are now the top two goal scorers for the U17s. Both played against Japan then, and Pugh scored the lone US goal, her first of 11 to date.
Maybe the most significant addition since that game is Zoe Redei, who was in the camp prior to that tournament, but didn’t make the travel team and wasn’t called back until September of 2013. She did make the CONCACAF WCQ team, though, and had a monster tournament, with 5 goals and 1 assist in just three games.
Whichever goalkeeper faces Japan, it will be her first time: Sabrina Macias, who was in goal in 2013’s loss, is still (apparently?) recovering from injury, and hasn’t been with the US since September.
US Soccer has put up highlights of this U17 team in friendlies in 2013, so I hope they’ll do the same here. A webstream would be nice, too, but that’s probably too much to ask….