U-20 USWNT set to kickoff 2022 Concacaf Women’s Championship
The U.S. Under-20 Women’s Youth National Team returns to international action this weekend for the first time since March 2020 at the 2022 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship.
The tournament is set for Feb. 25-March 12 in the Dominican Republic and the USA is aiming to qualify for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup while also playing for a record seventh Concacaf title.
Here are five things to know about the USA’s World Cup qualifying quest in the Caribbean:
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The biennial Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship will qualify three teams to the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica and crown a confederation champion for North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Costa Rica has qualified automatically for the World Cup as host.
Twenty teams from across the Concacaf region will compete at the tournament. Sixteen have been drawn into four groups of four, while four advanced directly to the Round of 16 via a pre-qualifying tournament held in Curaçao last September. All 40 tournament matches will take place at two stadiums in the Dominican Republic– Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez in Santo Domingo and Estadio Panamericano in San Cristobal.
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Dominican Republic||Honduras||Trinidad and Tobago||Jamaica|
|Puerto Rico||Guyana||El Salvador||Guatemala|
|Nicaragua||Panama||St. Kitts and Nevis||Cuba|
The U-20 WYNT kicks off World Cup qualifying on Friday, Feb. 25 vs. Nicaragua, takes on Puerto Rico on Sunday, Feb. 27 and wraps up the group stage vs. host Dominican Republic on Tuesday, March 1. Broadcast information for the U.S. games is to be determined.
|Friday, Feb. 25||USA vs. Nicaragua||3 p.m.||Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez|
|Sunday, Feb. 27||USA vs. Puerto Rico||3 p.m.||Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez|
|Tuesday, March 1||USA vs. Dominican Republic||6 p.m.||Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez|
ABOUT THE U-20 WYNT
Head coach Tracey Kevins has called up a versatile and talented 20-player roster to represent the United States in the Dominican Republic. The squad consists of 17 collegiate players, two youth club players and one professional.
Two players – defender Emily Mason (Rutgers) and midfielder Talia DellaPeruta (UNC) – helped the U.S. take home the 2020 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship. After the 2020 U-20 Women’s World Cup was canceled, the pair will look to punch another ticket to the global stage.
DellaPeruta is looking to win her fourth youth Concacaf championship after taking home previous titles at the U-20 (2020), U-17 (2018) and U-15 (2016) levels. Forward Alyssa Thompson, one of two youth club players on the roster, 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 Thompson.
2022 CONCACAF WOMEN’S U-20 CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER BY POSITION (COLLEGE OR CLUB; HOMETOWN)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Mia Justus (Florida State; Lakewood, Ohio), Neeku Purcell (OL Reign Academy; Seattle, Wash.)
DEFENDERS (8): Lauren Flynn (Florida State; Arlington, Va.), Samar Guidry (Virginia; McKinney, Texas), Emily Mason (Rutgers; Flemington, N.J.), Aidan McConnell (Wisconsin; Dexter, Mich.), Ayo Oke (California; Lawrenceville, Ga.), Avery Patterson (UNC; Jacksonville, Fla.), Lilly Reale (UCLA; Hingham, Mass.), Laney Rouse (Virginia, Cary, N.C.)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Emily Colton (UNC; Carlsbad, Calif.), Talia DellaPeruta (UNC; Cumming, Ga.), Sally Menti (Santa Clara; Seattle, Wash.) Alexis Missimo (Texas; Southlake, Texas), Olivia Moultrie (Portland Thorns FC; Wilsonville, Ore.)
FORWARDS (5): Trinity Byars (Texas; Richardson, Texas), Michelle Cooper (Duke; Clarkston, Mich.), Simone Jackson (USC; Redondo Beach, Calif.), Andrea Kitahata (Stanford; Hillsborough, Calif.), Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy; Studio City, Calif.)
Midfielder Olivia Moultrie is the lone professional on the roster and also the team’s youngest player at 16 years old. The teenager is the youngest to ever take the field in the National Women’s Soccer League, making eight appearances during her debut season for Portland Thorns FC last year and scoring her first pro goal in an exhibition tournament.
A number of players wrapped up standout collegiate campaigns earlier this winter, with eight named First or Second Team All-Conference and 11 named to All-Freshman Teams. Defender Lauren Flynn and goalkeeper Mia Justus helped Florida State take home the 2021 NCAA College Cup, while Mason helped Rutgers reach the Final Four. Midfielders Sally Menti (Santa Clara) and Alexis Missimo (Texas) plus forward Michelle Cooper (Duke) were named Freshman of the Year in their respective conferences (WCC, Big 12, ACC).
RED, WHITE AND BLUE LEGACY
The USA has a strong record of success at this competition, qualifying for all 10 World Cups at this age level since 2002 (including the canceled 2020 U-20 WWC). This year, the U.S. takes aim at its record seventh Concacaf title in 10 tries since winning its first in 2006.
A number of future senior USWNT stars have showed out at the Concacaf Championship. Kelley O’Hara, Sydney Leroux and Mallory Pugh all took home Golden Boot honors, in 2008, 2010 and 2015, respectively.
Current USWNT call-ups Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman helped the U-20 WYNT win the 2020 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship. Rodman made a splash in Santo Domingo, netting five goals in the group stage finale vs. Honduras while also bagging braces in both the semifinal vs. Dominican Republic to clinch a World Cup berth and the championship match vs. Mexico.
Smith, plus defender Tierna Davidson, midfielder Jaelin Howell and forward Ashley Sanchez helped the U.S. to a World Cup ticket and runner-up finish at the 2018 tournament in Trinidad and Tobago.
This year marks the 11th edition of the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship, which began in 2002 as the CONCACAF U-19 Women’s Championship to qualify teams for the first-ever U-19 Women’s World Cup. That inaugural tournament was played in Trinidad and Tobago as the USA and Mexico won their groups and advanced to the World Cup in Canada.
North America has dominated the biennial tournament – the USA, Canada or Mexico have finished as finalists at all 10 previous editions. In 2018, Haiti became just the second non-North American team to qualify for the U-20 World Cup with its third-place finish. Costa Rica is the only other Central American or Caribbean nation to qualify, finishing third in 2004, 2010 and 2014 before qualifying automatically this year.