The U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team will open its 2013 campaign with a challenging trip to La Manga, Spain, from Feb. 22-March 5 where the squad will take on the U-23 sides of Norway, England and Sweden.
U.S. head coach Randy Waldrum will bring a 20-player roster featuring top collegiate players and young pros. Three players on the roster – defender Julie Johnston, midfielder Kristie Mewis and forward Zakiya Bywaters – will be coming off almost two weeks of training with the full Women’s National Team that resulted in Johnston and Mewis earning their first senior team caps against Scotland on Feb. 9 in Jacksonville, Fla.
Bywaters was the first pick in the NWSL College Draft by the Chicago Red Stars.
The roster features eight players from the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan, including Johnston, who captained the side and won the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the tournament, as well as the teams’ dynamic center-midfield trio of Morgan Brian (Virginia), Vanessa DiBernado (Illinois) and Sara Killion (UCLA). DiBernardo scored in the 2-1 victory against Korea DPR in the quarterfinal and Brian scored in the 2-0 victory against Nigeria in the semifinal.
Two foreign-based players will join the squad: former Stanford defender Camille Levin, who is playing in Sweden, and former Florida State defender Toni Pressley who is playing in Russia.
Six players on the roster are currently on preliminary rosters for NWSL clubs, having been acquired in the various roster acquisition mechanisms as the teams continue to build their squads. The roster includes the first five picks in the NWSL College Draft in Bywaters, second overall pick Tiffany McCarty by the Washington Spirit, Mewis (picked third by FC Kansas City), Lindsi Lisonbee from BYU who was taken fourth by Sky Blue FC and Casey Short out of Florida State who was taken fifth by the Boston Breakers.
Former University of San Diego forward Stephanie Ochs was taken first in the NWSL Supplemental Draft by the Washington Spirit.
The U-23 tournament also reunites sisters Kristie Mewis (who will turn 22 in a few weeks) and UCLA’s Samantha Mewis (who is 20 years old). The siblings made history when they became the first sisters to represent the USA in a Women’s World Cup, doing so twice, at the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany.
The U.S. U-23s will play Norway on Feb. 28, Sweden on March 2 and finish up the four-team tournament against England on March 4.
U.S. U-23 WNT Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jami Kranich (Villanova; Hamden, Conn.), Abby Smith (Texas; Dallas, Texas)
DEFENDERS (8): Natasha Anasi (Duke; Arlington, Texas); Julie Johnston (Santa Clara; Mesa, Ariz.), Kassey Kallman (Florida State; Woodbury, Minn.), Camille Levin (Göteborg FC; Newport Coast, Calif.), Lindsi Lisonbee (Sky Blue FC; Provo, Utah), Toni Pressley (Ryazan VDV; Melbourne, Fla.), Casey Short (Boston Breakers; Naperville, Ill.), Courtney Verloo (Stanford; Tualatin, Ore.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Virginia; St. Simon’s Island, Ga.), Zakiya Bywaters (Chicago Red Stars; Las Vegas, Nev.), Vanessa DiBernardo (Illinois; Naperville, Ill.), Sarah Killion (UCLA; Fort Wayne, Ind.), Kristie Mewis (FC Kansas City; Hanson, Mass.), Samantha Mewis (UCLA; Hanson, Mass.)
FORWARDS (4): Morgan Marlborough (Santa Clara; Raymore, Mo.), Tiffany McCarty (Washington Spirit; Laurel, Md.), Stephanie Ochs (Washington Spirit; San Diego, Calif.), Havana Solaun (Florida; Gainesville, Fla.)