In just over two weeks, the U.S. national team will be back in action; at least, one version of it. Today, head coach Michelle Franch named the 21-woman team that will try to defend the U.S.’s title at this year’s U-20 World Cup in Canada.
Among those that will be part of that defense is PSG forward Lindsey Horan and Notre Dame defender Cari Roccaro, who was part of the team that defeated Germany in the final two years ago.
The final will be replayed on the opening day of the 2014 tournament, with the U.S. and Germany kicking off Group B play on Aug. 5 in Edmonton. Three days later, French’s side faces a Brazil team that went undefeated through South America’s qualifying tournament. After relocating to Montréal, the U.S. will finish its group stage on Aug. 12 against China, a team that beat out Japan for Asia’s final spot.
Particularly compared to the tournament’s other groups, the U.S.’s seems particularly tough, with each of the four teams having made at least two previous semifinals. (This year’s will be the seventh U-20 World Cup.) Though the U.S. and Germany are favorites to move on, the second place finisher could face a strong Canadian team in the quarterfinals. If there’s a loser on Aug. 5, that team will face a much tougher, much more tension-filled rout to Aug. 24’s final.
Horan, who scored 14 times for PSG last season, will be one of the team’s key components, as will defender Roccaro, who played every minutes of the knockout stage two years ago. Wisconsin’s Rose Lavelle, MVP at January’s CONCACAF Championship, and co-captain Andi Sullivan will lead an otherwise inexperienced midfield, while goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland can leverage experience garnered during a national title run with UCLA.
French, from U.S. Soccer:
“We have a good mixture of leadership, talent and great technical ability on all three lines,” said French. “We have a lot of tactical understanding and creativity based on the way they read the game, and I see a lot of grit and bite in the way we defend. The combination of these factors gives us a very well-rounded team.”
“Because we have players that have previously played in the U-20 World Cup, and we have Lindsey Horan who is playing professionally, and we have players who had a great amount of time with the U-17s, in a lot different areas we have players that lead,” said French. “That’s not just vocally, but in how they conduct themselves on and off the field. As a staff, to know that we can rely on a number of different people to lead, is a great benefit to this team.”
Here’s the full squad:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Stanford; Kennesaw, Ga.), Rosemary Chandler (Penn State; Atlanta, Ga.), Katelyn Rowland (UCLA; Vacaville, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (6): Stephanie Amack (Stanford; Pleasanton, Calif.), Brittany Basinger (Penn State; Purcellville, Va.), Christina Gibbons (Duke; Raleigh, N.C.), Katie Naughton (Notre Dame; Elk Grove Village, Ill.), Kaleigh Riehl (BRYC; Fairfax Station, Va.), Cari Roccaro (Notre Dame; East Islip, N.Y.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Carlyn Baldwin (Tennessee; Oakton, Va.), Nickolette Driesse (Florida State: Wayne, N.J.), Rose Lavelle (Wisconsin; Cincinnati, Ohio), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Taylor Racioppi (PDA; Ocean Township, N.J.), Andi Sullivan (Bethesda SC; Lorton, Va.) F
ORWARDS (6): Makenzy Doniak (Virginia; Chino Hills, Calif.), Summer Green (North Carolina; Milford, Mich.), Lindsey Horan (PSG; Golden, Colo.), Savannah Jordan (Florida; Fayetteville, Ga.), McKenzie Meehan (Boston College; Scituate, R.I.), Margaret Purce (Harvard; Silver Spring, Md.)
The full draw:
Group A: Canada, Ghana, Finland, North Korea
Group B: Germany, United States, China, Brazil
Group C: England, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria*
Group D: New Zealand, Paraguay, France, Costa Rica
* – may not play due to FIFA’s suspension of all Nigerian international teams
More on the U.S.’s team, though I’d recommend turning the volume down before pressing play on this one: