USA set to begin Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship in Nicaragua
(Via U.S. Soccer) – After a successful cycle so far, the U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team has arrived at its first major international competition: the 2018 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship. Three World Cup bids and the confederation title are up for grabs in Managua, Nicaragua. Here are five things to know about the competition:
HOW IT WORKS
Eight teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean have gathered in Managua for the Concacaf Championship. They’ll battle it out for three spots at November’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup as the two finalists and third-place game winner will punch their tickets to Uruguay for that competition.
Canada, Mexico and the USA received automatic bids to the Concacaf Championship. As hosts, Nicaragua also claimed an automatic spot. Haiti, Bermuda and Puerto Rico finished first, second and third in Caribbean qualifying to earn their places in Managua, while Costa Rica took first in Central America. The USA was drawn into Group B alongside Bermuda, Canada and Costa Rica.
|Group A||Group B|
ABOUT THE U-17S
The U.S. U-17 WNT arrive in Nicaragua as Concacaf’s reigning champs. While the team has suffered some untimely injuries in the run-up to the competition, it’s still riding a run of formidable form. Undefeated in 2018, the U-17s have lost just one game since the start of its cycle last year, scoring 75 goals while conceding just 13.
Head coach Mark Carr’s 20-player roster includes 17 players born in 2001 (the cut-off for this age group) and three players born in 2002. Kennedy Wesley and Kate Weisner competed for the USA at the 2016 CONCACAF Championship and FIFA World Cup. Eight players also represented the USA with Carr at the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s U-15 Championship in Orlando, Fla.
U.S. U-17 WNT Concacaf Qualifying Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Angelina Anderson (Mustang FC; Danville, Calif.), Julia Dohle (New York City FC; Scarsdale, N.Y.)
DEFENDERS (6): Michela Agresti (FC Stars, Swampscott, Mass.), Talia DellaPeruta (NTH Tophat; Cumming, Ga.), Smith Hunter (Seattle Reign Academy; Seattle, Wash.), Makenna Morris (Bethesda SC; Germantown, Md.), Natalia Staude (NTH Tophat; Atlanta, Ga.), Kennedy Wesley (So Cal Blues; Rossmoor, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Hannah Bebar (Eclipse Select SC; Naperville, Ill.), Croix Bethune (Concorde Fire; Alpharetta, Ga.), Maya Doms (Davis Legacy; Davis, Calif.), Mia Fishel (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Sophia Jones (San Jose Earthquakes; Menlo Park, Calif.), Astrid Wheeler (Concorde Fire; Atlanta, Ga.)
FORWARDS (6): Isabella D’Aquila (So Cal Blues; Mission Viejo, Calif.), Sunshine Fontes (Hawaii Rush; Wahiawa, Hawaii), Payton Linnehan (FC Stars; Douglas, Mass.), Samantha Meza (Solar SC; Dallas, Texas), Diana Ordoñez (FC Dallas; Prosper, Texas), Kate Wiesner (LAFC Slammers; Monrovia, Calif.)
HOW TO FOLLOW
|April 20||USA vs. Costa Rica||10 p.m.||National Stadium; Managua, Nicaragua|
|April 22||USA vs. Bermuda||10 p.m.||National Stadium; Managua, Nicaragua|
|April 24||USA vs. Canada||10 p.m.||National Stadium; Managua, Nicaragua|
The U-17s open up the tournament on Friday, April 20 against Costa Rica, face off against Bermuda on Sunday, April 22 and wrap up the group stage on Tuesday, April 24 against Canada.
COMPETITION AND USA HISTORY
The U-17 Women’s Championship is one of Concacaf’s newest tournaments. The confederation competition for this age group launched in 2008 in Trinidad & Tobago to qualify teams for the first-ever FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. Since then, the tournament has been held biennially to send three Concacaf squads to the world stage.
The USA has taken home the confederation title a record three times in the five editions of the tournament (2008, 2012 and 2016). Mexico and Canada stand as the only other nations to win the competition, in 2010 and 2013, respectively. In 2008, Costa Rica became the only non-North American team to qualify for the World Cup at this level.
Over the decade of competition, several current WNT regulars have launched their international careers at the Concacaf U-17 Championship. Lindsey Horan, Morgan Brian and Taylor Smith helped lead the way for the USA in 2010, while Margaret Purce and Andi Sullivan guided the U-17s to the title in 2012. Mallory Pugh netted five goals for the U.S. at the 2013 tournament.
FIRST TIME IN NICARAGUA
The Concacaf Championship represents the USA’s first-ever trip to the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes” on the women’s side at any age level. Games will be played in the capital of Managua, the third-largest city in Central America. While baseball is considered the national pastime, games will be played at the country’s first-ever soccer-only national stadium, constructed in 2011.
Once a Spanish colony, Nicaragua gained independence in 1821. Bordering Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south, it’s the largest country in Central America, just a bit bigger in area than New York state. Nicaragua’s name comes from a combination of “Nicarao,” one of the nation’s largest original indigenous tribes and “agua,” from the large amounts of water found in the country. Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America and one of the largest in the Americas. It’s home to hundreds of small volcanic islands and some of the world’s only freshwater sharks.