With the announcement of the US U-20 Women’s World Cup roster yesterday, we’re back! And we’re not sure what to make of all this. If you weren’t following Cross-Conference during the qualifiers or last U-20 WWC, you might want to catch up. If you know where we’re going with this, then you can go ahead with the roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bryane Heaberlin (North Carolina), Jami Kranich (Villanova), Abby Smith (Texas)
DEFENDERS (6): Stephanie Amack (Stanford), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina), Julie Johnston (Santa Clara), Kassey Kallman (Florida State), Mollie Pathman (Duke), Cari Roccaro (Notre Dame)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Virginia), Vanessa DiBernardo (Illinois), Sarah Killion (UCLA), Mandy Laddish (Notre Dame), Samantha Mewis (UCLA), Taylor Schram (Penn State)
FORWARDS (6): Kelly Cobb (Duke), Maya Hayes (Penn State), Kealia Ohai (North Carolina), Katie Stengel (Wake Forest), Chioma Ubogagu (Stanford), Becca Wann (Richmond)
Alternates that have been mentioned so far: Virginia’s Olivia Brannon and Makenzy Doniak.
Changes from qualifiers include:
Additions: Jami Kranich, Taylor Schram, Kelly Cobb (back from injury), Becca Wann. Cobb and Schram, in particular, are excellent additions as the US needs a consistent scorer and another real midfield options, since a mid’s been moved to the back.
Cuts: Lindsey Horan (knee injury), Olivia Brannon (alternate), Micaela Capelle. Surprising stuff, leaving Brannon off.
Captain: Defender Mollie Pathman has been replaced by Julie Johnston, who incidentally was also moved to a defensive listing. Having Johnston captain instead of Pathman could be huge – Johnston displays confidence and competency on the field, and she can be an assertive and emotional leader regardless of whether she’s on the backline or in the midfield. Johnston is also a captain at Santa Clara, despite the fact that she will be missing the beginning of the season.
Things that haven’t changed: I still don’t understand why Abby Dahlkemper (UCLA, 2010 U-17) hasn’t been called up. But whatcha gonna do.
I have renewed faith in the front line with Cobb coming in and (oddly enough) Johnston moving to the backline. If you want to build your attack out of a solid defense, you can’t go wrong with having a Bronco in charge. Santa Clara plays aggressive defense, physically holding their own and feeding into the attack. Not necessarily a high line, but generally a solid one and exciting to watch.
The US is going to need that kind of confidence and physicality to get out of group. The Americans have drawn Ghana, Germany, and China. And Ghana, notably, has been called foul-happy by the Nigerians. Nigeria, if you’re familiar with US women’s soccer, has a long history of being one seriously combative foe. Germany and China need no explanation. If the US can be stalwart and play smart in the first three games, they can advance to the quarterfinals.
In the quarters (Aug. 31), the US would play against a Group C opponent. This means Norway, Canada, Korea DPR, or Argentina. Right now, I would seriously put money on Norway and Canada representing Group C, and neither one would be a cakewalk for the US. Canada proved in qualifiers that they can match up with the US, and Norway should be hungry to prove that their past few results before the tournament do not reflect the team’s talent. Should Korea DPR advance, the US might be better motivated for the win, given the history between the two teams.
Other pertinent U-20 WWC rosters: