PREVIEW: USA battles Costa Rica in Group G finale at Concacaf U-17 Championship
WITH KNOCKOUT ROUND CLINCHED, USA FACES COSTA RICA FOR GROUP G TITLE:
After scoring 33 goals in its first two matches at the Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship, the USA will face a sterner test as it finishes Group G play on Wednesday, April 27 vs. Costa Rica (4 p.m. / FS2, ViX App in Spanish) at Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez in Santo Domingo (4 p.m. / FS2, ViX App in Spanish). With six points each from the first two games, the USA and Costa Rica have already secured berths to the Round of 16, but will play for the group title with the USA needing a win or a tie to finish first and Costa Rica needing a win.
The winner of Group G will face Curaçao in the Round of 16 on Saturday, April 30 at 4 p.m. ET at Estadio Panamericano. Curaçao advanced directly to the Round of 16 by winning its pre-qualifying group.
All tournament matches will be broadcast in English on Fox Soccer Plus or FS2 and on the Fox Sports app with corresponding authentication. All matches will also be available in Spanish on TelevisaUnivision’s new streaming service ViX. Fans can visit vix.com or download the app on their devices to watch all the games.
Players born on or after Jan. 1, 2005, are age-eligible for the 2022 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship. U.S. head coach Natalia Astrain selected 16 players born in 2005 and four born in 2006.
GROUP G STANDINGS
U.S. UNDER-17 WOMEN’S YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; HOMETOWN; CAPS/GOALS):
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Abigail Gundry (NC Courage; Wake Forest, N.C.; 1), 12-Victoria Safradin (Internationals SC; Eastlake, Ohio; 1)
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Nicola Fraser (Real Colorado National; Highlands Ranch, Colo.; 2/1), 17-Alyssa Gonzalez (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.; 1;0), 3-Savannah King (LAFC SoCal Youth; West Hills, Calif.; 1/0), 4-Cameron Roller (Solar SC; Sherman, Texas; 1/1), 5-Keegan Schmeiser (Chicago FC United; Bolingbrook, Ill.; 2/0), 20-Gisele Thompson (Total Futbol Academy; Studio City, Calif.; 1/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 10-Mia Bhuta (Internationals SC; Pittsburgh, Pa.; 2/0), 15-Shae Harvey (Slammers FC HB Koge; Hermosa Beach, Calif.; 2/4), 13-Claire Hutton (World Class FC; Bethlehem, N.Y.; 2/5), 7-Riley Jackson (Concorde Fire; Roswell, Ga.; 1/0), 8-Charlotte Kohler (Mountain View Los Altos; Woodside, Calif.; 1/4), 19-Lauren Martinho (NC Courage; Cary, N.C.; 2/2)
FORWARDS (6): 18-Onyeka Gamero (Beach FC; Cerritos, Calif.; 1/0), 11-Nicollette Kiorpes (NEFC; Worcester, Mass.; 2/2), 6-Mia Oliaro (NC Courage; Chapel Hill, N.C.; 2/2), 14-Melina Rebimbas (Players Development Academy; Warren, N.J.; 2/3), 9-Taylor Suarez (Charlotte SA; Charlotte, N.C.; 2/2), 16-Amalia Villarreal (Michigan Jaguars FC; Lansing, Mich.; 2/6)
This year marks the seventh edition of the Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship. The tournament began in 2008, the first year that FIFA staged a Women’s World Cup for U-17 women.
The 2020 competition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and thus this is the first Concacaf U-17 tournament to introduce the new 20-team tournament format, which has been used for the previous two Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championships. All previous iterations of the U-17 event were comprised of eight teams split into two groups of four. Now, sixteen countries were been drawn into four groups of four, while four countries – Guyana, Honduras, Curaçao and Saint Kitts and Nevis — have advanced directly to the Round of 16 via a pre-qualifying tournament.
The top three finishers in each group qualify to the Round of 16, where they will be joined by the four teams from pre-qualifying. From there, it’s a knockout bracket to the tournament final. The two winners of the semifinal matches, plus the winner of the third-place game, will qualify to the 2022 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in India.
SUB RULES CHANGE:
Prior to the start of the first matches on April 23, Concacaf changed the rules on substitutions, allowing five per team after previously indicating the teams would be allowed only three.
USA ROSTER NOTES:
- Midfielder Mia Bhuta captained the USA in its first match against Grenada and midfielder Riley Jackson captained the team vs. Puerto Rico.
- Sixteen players made their international debuts on April 23 vs. Grenada.
- The remaining four players on the roster made their international debuts on April 25 vs. Puerto Rico: goalkeeper Abby Gundry, midfielder Riley Jackson, defender Alyssa Gonzalez and defender Gisele Thompson. Gonzalez tallied an assist in her first U-17 cap and Jackson had three assists in her first U-17 appearance, tied for most in a game so far in this tournament with Onyeka Gamero and Taylor Suarez.
- All 20 players on the roster have now see action in the tournament.
- Nicola Fraser is the only player to have played all 180 minutes so far. Defender/forward Mia Oliaro, midfielder Keegan Schmeiser and forward Taylor Suarez are tied for second in minutes played so far with 135.
- Nine different players scored in the Grenada match and nine different players had assists.
- Six different players scored in the Puerto Rico match and six different players had assists.
- Goals by forward Taylor Suarez (2) and Nicola Fraser against Puerto Rico on April 25 made it 11 different players who have scored in this tournament for the USA.
- The most different players to score for the USA in a Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship is 14, a mark set in the first-ever Concacaf tournament at this age level in 2008. That tournament took five matches to win, while this one will take seven.
- The most goals every scored in one Concacaf Women’s U-17 Tournament, albeit in the five-game format, were 12 by Summer Green in 2012 and nine by Lindsey Horan in 2010.
- Fourteen different players have assists so far.
- After her five-goal performance against Puerto Rico, tying a U.S. record for most goals in a game at any level, forward Amalia Villarreal leads the USA in scoring with six goals. Midfielder Claire Hutton registered a hat trick against PR and has five goals so far in the tourney.
- Midfielder Shae Harvey and Charlotte Kohler have four goals each. Forward Melina Rebimbas has three goals. Forward Nicollette Kiorpes, midfielder Lauren Martinho, defender/forward Mia Oliaro and forward Taylor Suarez have two each.
- The Grenada match marked the first time that three different players scored three or more goals in a single USWNT match at any age level, and just the fifth time that two different players scored three or more goals in a single match at any age level.
- Against Puerto Rico on April 25, Amalia Villarreal and Claire Hutton become the fourth and fifth players for the USA in this tournament to score three or more goals in a game.
- Taylor Suarez leads the team in assists with five. Riley Jackson and Mia Oliaro have three each.
- Nineteen different youth clubs from 11 different states are represented on the roster, with NC Courage placing three players on the team.
- Defender Gisele Thompson is the younger sister (by 13 months) of U.S. U-20 WYNT forward Alyssa Thompson, who helped the USA win the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship earlier this year in the Dominican Republic. Giselle and Alyssa helped the U-15 WYNT win the 2018 Concacaf U-15 Championship. While that tournament featured mostly 2003-birth year players, the USA brought a younger squad composed of players born in 2004 and 2005, including the 2004-born Alyssa and 2005-born Gisele.
- Defender Nicola Fraser is the daughter of former U.S. international and current Colorado Rapids head coach Robin Fraser, who has 27 caps for the USA. With her start vs. Grenada on April 23, Fraser became the second daughter of a male or female U.S. National Team player to earn a cap at any level of the U.S. Women’s National Teams program. Chicago Red Stars midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, whose father Angelo played 20 times for the USA, earned 20 caps and scored three goals at the U-20 level.
- With her goal to cap the scoring against Puerto Rico, Fraser became the second daughter of a former U.S. Men’s National Team player to score for the USA in international play, joining DiBernardo. Nicola’s dad did not score in his international career, making Nicola the first in the Fraser family to bag an international goal.
- Midfielder Charlotte Kohler is the daughter of Will Kohler, who was a member of the U.S. U-17 Men’s Youth National Team at the 1991 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Italy. He came off the bench in the first match, a famous 1-0 win over Italy, and played 90 minutes in the third group game, a 3-1 win over China PR. He also came off the bench in the quarterfinal against Qatar, but the USA fell in penalty kicks after drawing 1-1 in regulation.
- Midfielder Mia Bhuta is a rare USWNT player of Indian heritage and happens to be the correct birth year for a U.S. team that’s competing to earn a berth to the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India.
- The 33 goals scored over the first two games are the most-ever for a U.S. team in the first two matches of a Concacaf Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament, but this is the first U-17 tournament in which the new 20-team format has been used. All of the previous tournaments were played with eight teams and two groups of four.
USA U-17S VS. COSTA RICA:
- The USA and Costa Rica have meet in four of six previous Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championships and this will mark the sixth meeting between the teams in this tournament (the teams met twice in 2010).
- The USA have won all five meetings, the first back in 2008, a 6-0 win in Trinidad that saw current USWNT player Samantha Mewis score twice.
- The USA won 10-0 in 2010 in Costa Rica in group play, a match in which current USWNT players Morgan Brian and Lindsey Horan each had braces, and 6-0 in the Third-Place match as Horan and Brian each scored again.
- Since then, the games have been much closer with the USA winning 2-0 in 2016 in Grenada as current USWNT player Ashley Sanchez netted one goal. In 2018, the USA triumphed 4-0 in Nicaragua to open the qualifying tournament.
- Costa Rica has handily won its first two games, downing Puerto Rico 4-1 and Grenada 9-1.
- Sheika Scott, Luciana González, Josselyn Briceño and Valentina Rivera scored against PR.
- Against Grenada, Costa Rica actually conceded first in the 21st minute, but quickly tied it up via Marian Solano in the 24th. From there, Costa Rica ran up the score, getting goals from Sharon Lobo, another from Solano, two from Tanisha Fonseca, two from Sara Ramirez and single scores from Jimena Jimenez and Ashly Gonzalez.
- Nineteen of Costa Rica’s 20 players play domestically, but goalkeeper Genesis Perez attends Monteverde Academy in Florida.
GROUP E UPDATE:
Mexico is in firm control of Group E and into the Round of 16, defeating Nicaragua 10-0 led by a Valerie Vargas hat trick and downing Panama 7-0 as Vargas bagged two more. Panama and Nicaragua are tied on points with three, but Panama has a slight edge in goal difference. Trinidad & Tobago will need to upset Mexico on the final day of group play to have a chance to advance to the Round of 16.
GROUP F UPDATE:
Heading into the second match day for Group F, Canada and Jamaica seem to be on a collision course for the group title after both handily won its first games against Dominica and Bermuda, respectively.
GROUP H UPDATE:
Heading into the second match day of Group H, El Salvador and Haiti are tied with three points each after defeating Guatemala and Cuba, respectively.
QUALIFIED TO INDIA:
Seven countries have already qualified for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup thus far. In addition to host India, China PR and Japan have qualified from Asia via nominations by Asian Football Confederation based on results of 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship after the U-17 qualifying tournament was cancelled. Brazil, Chile and Colombia have qualified from the recently completed 2022 South American U-17 Women’s Championship, while New Zealand was nominated by the Oceania Football Confederation after their qualifying tournament was also cancelled. Nine berths remain to be filled, three each from Concacaf, Africa and Europe.