A/N: This is a Ruth+Chris production, Take 2.
Women’s soccer got its first youth World Cup in 2002: an Under-19 tournament held in Canada (and, technically, called a “World Championship” then). This tournament continued every two years until 2006, when it became an Under-20 tournament; raising the age limit just that little bit made room for another, even younger age group: the U-17s, who competed in their first World Cup in 2008, in New Zealand.
The USA has always competed well at the U-19/U-20 level: they won the first WC in 2002, placed third and fourth in 2004 and 2006, then won it again in 2008 and most recently in 2012. In 2010, the US U-20s lost in the quarterfinals, the worst showing in their history.
The Under-17s have had three World Cups to date: 2008, 2010, and 2012. In that time, unlike their older sister teams, the U-20s and the senior national team, the US U-17s have not won the Cup even once. Their first attempt in 2008 was their best showing: they lost to North Korea in the final. In 2012, the United States failed to even advance to the quarterfinals… by placing third in their group on goal-differential, behind the two eventual finalists, having given up only a single goal.
But that isn’t even the worst showing for the U-17s. In 2010, the US U-17s failed to even qualify for the World Cup. Also without giving a single goal in the qualifying tournament.
What is it about that age group? And what kind of impact would that “worst ever” showing have on the soccer careers of those who lived through it?
With the U-17s group-stage exit from the World Cup in Azerbaijan coming hot on the heels of the U-20s championship run through their age group’s World Cup in Japan, we got to thinking. It’s about time we properly caught up with the 2010 U-17s, a unique group that unfortunately didn’t have the chance to shine on the international stage. Despite eligibility, only a couple were included in the qualifiers and World Cup in the recent U-20 cycle. Some of the now-sophomores have had successful starts to their college careers. The youngest ones are now two months into their freshmen years or, in Lindsey Horan’s case, professional career. [A/N: Obviously we started this months ago... freshman and sophomore seasons are now on the books.]
Although about half of these names stay on our radar year ‘round, some we hear about only in passing or not at all anymore. So here we’ll take a look around the nation (and briefly overseas) at one of the best U.S. squads to date. (In the next joint post, we’ll take a look at what our options look like for the next U-20/U-17 cycle, based on 2010/2012.)
The Team in 2010
In looking at the minutes played and field positions within the team, distinctions can be made. Firstly, there was the “spine” of the squad: the six players who played the center of the field, front to back, and started all five games in qualifying, playing nearly every minute of the tournament. These did not vary: Dahlkemper as the sole centerback, Wedemeyer as the defensive midfielder, Brian and Clarke as the attacking midfielders, and Lindsey Horan as the forward.
In the end, Abby Dahlkemper alone played every single minute, but all six started every game, and each played at least a half.
There are two players who could be placed here with the core, but for whatever reasons saw significantly fewer minutes: Taylor Smith was Lindsey Horan’s strike partner in front, and played every game, but saw less time on the field in total; she subbed in late in one game, and was subbed out of two others. And Jaelene Hinkle, at left back, played every minute of the first four games, but sat out the final game.
Next come the outside backs, wingers and supersubs, each of whom sat out at least one game. The right backs and right middies – Torres, Roccaro and Brannon – traded position often from game to game and even within games; one subbing for another, moving up or back, being subbed out by a third. The left side was mainly Doll in midfield and Hinkle in back, with Farrell usually replacing Doll.
Then came the “the rest,” who got limited minutes. Every player on the squad played at least one game, even the backup goalkeepers – surprisingly, all three keepers played, in just five games. Compare this to the U-20s in 2010 or 2012, in which there was a definite “number one” goalkeeper, who (nearly) always started and always played the entire game.
Where Are They Now?
Morgan Brian – sophomore midfielder at University of Virginia.
This is the age group’s Golden Child, the USWNT heir apparent and all that. She is a consistent starter in both of her years at UVA and a fixture at the youth national team level. As a freshman, she racked up the accolades: Soccer America National Freshman of the Year, NSCAA 1st Team All-American, MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist, ACC Freshman of the Year, 1st Team All-ACC… and so on. She appeared in 23 games for the Cavaliers and started in 22 of those. Even as a freshman, she was second on the team in scoring, notching 11 goals and 8 assists.
Brian was also a major part of the 2012 U-20 run. She was again a consistent starter and played significant minutes in qualifiers and the World Cup. Although 2012 gave her the added benefit of playing for a YNT squad under her college coach (Steve Swanson), she’s clearly being groomed for a national team spot. Brian played in every game of the U-20s CONCACAF qualifiers and their World Cup campaign. During the World Cup, she missed only 16 minutes of play.
After spending the start of the 2012 NCAA season at the 2012 U-20 WWC, Brian came back and started 13 of 15 games. She and fellow 2010 Kaili Torres tied for 5th on the team with 15 pts (Brian having 4 goals and 7 assists). She did not start in Virginia’s 3-2 loss at home to Duke in the 3rd round of the NCAA tournament.
- 2010 U-17 Quals: Played all 5 games, scored 7 goals, including hat-trick against Cayman Islands. 4 assists: 1 each against Haiti and Cayman Islands, 2 against Costa Rica (one in each game).
- 2012 U-20 Quals: Played in 4 of 5 games, scoring one goal and assisting on another.
2012 U-20 WWC: Played in all 6 games, 554 mins, only missing 16 mins – 3rd on the team, behind Pathman and Heaberlin, who didn’t miss any. 1 goal and 0 assists.
Bryane Heaberlin – freshman goalkeeper at UNC
Heaberlin graduated high school early to join North Carolina in January 2012. As a freshman at UNC, Heaberlin saw limited time in goal in 2012: she subbed into just 7 games, and had no starts. This is at least partially due to her missing so much time for the U-20s, and the inherently conservative nature of the goalkeeper position. But she’s got 3 more years ahead of her, and will be a better position to compete for starts in the future.
Of the three players to make it to the 2012 U-20s, and subsequently win a WWC of their own, Heaberlin has the distinction of being the only one of those three to also win a NCAA College Cup – although she did not actually play in the College Cup. (Alex Doll did win the College Cup in 2011 with Stanford, and played in the final, but did not make it on the 2012 U-20 team.)
Less happily, she also has the distinction of living through two penalty kick shootout losses in youth World Cups, and both in the same year. Just months after the U-17 qualifier loss in 2010, Heaberlin was a backup goalkeeper for the US U-20 team in their own World Cup campaign – a position she obviously would have not have been in had the U-17s themselves qualified. In the quarterfinals, Heaberlin watched from the bench as her team again lost a shootout in a knock-out round. Somehow, she found the heart to keep playing….
Equally notable about Bryane Heaberlin, next to her roller-coaster ride of a soccer career, is her charity work. The Haiti U-17s competed in World Cup qualifying despite suffering a devastating earthquake just months before. After CONCACAF qualifying, Heaberlin created the Many Hearts, One Goal foundation, which continues to help those Haitian players continue their soccer careers.
- 2010 U-17 Quals: Played 3 of the 5 games; in group play against Haiti and Costa Rica (the USA’s toughest group opponent ), and the ill-fated semi-final against Canada. She, and US as a whole, did not give up a single goal in the entire tournament… aside from the deciding shootout of course.
2012 U-20 Quals: Played 4 of 5 games, allowing just one goal (in the final against Canada)
2012 U-20 WWC: Played every minute of all 6 games. Group play was tougher here: she and the US gave up 4 goals, including 3 in a bad loss to Germany, then another goal against North Korea in the quarterfinal. But she can boast a clean sheet in both the semifinal against Nigeria, and – most importantly – in the final against Germany.
Cari Roccaro – freshman everything-but-goalkeeper at Notre Dame
Roccaro missed part of college season with the U-20s, but immediately after returning to South Bend, Roccaro made an impact on the Irish lineup. As a freshman, she started in all 16 of the games that she played in and went from being a fixture on the U-20 backline to playing defense, midfield, and forward for Notre Dame (sometimes all in a single game). Despite missing 8 games, she ended the season tied for 3rd in points on the team with 13 points (6 goals and 1 assist). Notre Dame was unseeded in the 2012 NCAA tournament but proceeded to beat Wake Forest (3rd seed) in the 2nd round, then Florida (2nd seed) in the 3rd round, before falling 1-0 to eventual Final Four contender Florida State in the quarterfinals.
- 2010 U-17 Quals: Played in 4 of the 5 games, excluding the match against the Cayman Islands. She started in three: vs Haiti, vs Costa Rica in group, and vs Costa Rica again in the 3rd place match. She recorded 33 minutes as a substitute in the semifinal loss to Canada.
- 2012 U-20 Quals: Played 3 of 5 games, scoring a goal.
2012 U-20 WWC: Played in 5 of the 6 games, excluding the opening match against Ghana. Started vs China, Korea DPR, Nigeria, and Germany in the finals, playing full minutes in all of the games that she started. She came on as a second half sub in the group stage loss to Germany. Noteworthy, given her NCAA performance: she is credited with zero goals and zero assists in the WWC.
The three players above - Brian, Heaberlin and Roccaro – are the only three to transfer successfully from the 2010 U-17 qualifying roster to the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup roster. Lindsey Horan (below) would have gone to the WWC, as she was a key striker in qualifying, but dropped out due to a knee injury and rehab. Abby Smith was a backup goalkeeper in both 2010 and 2012, and saw very limited time in both (and did not play in the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup at all).
Lindsey Horan – forward, professional with French team Paris Saint-Germain (!)
Lindsey Horan is a special case in her post-2010 story. A very special case, in fact: she chose to forego an American college education and soccer-playing career and instead signed a contract – while still in high school! – with the French professional soccer team PSG, in Paris. An education is reportedly also provided with the contract [A/N: that could be a pretty serious amount of money once Horan gets around to pursuing the degree]. This makes Horan not only the first woman to go professional overseas straight from high school, but in fact the first American of either gender to do so.
And her time at PSG has been productive: of the 12 games before the winter break, she played in 11 of them, and has scored 8 goals (rather, at least 8; information for one of the games seems to be missing…) in that time.
- 2010 U-17 Quals: Played in all 5 games, with 9 goals and 6 assists
- 2012 U-20 Quals: Played in all 5 games, scoring 4 goals (second on the team)
2012 U-20 WWC: (did not play due to injury and recovery)
Kaysie Clark – sophomore midfielder with University of Missouri
Kaysie saw only a few U-20 camps post-2010, and did not make the final team. But she’s been a mainstay for her college team in her first two years. She started all 21 games as a freshman, scored two goals and had a team-leading five assists. As a sophomore, she played in 19 of the 22 games, starting 17 of them, while scoring 4 goals and 3 assists.
Mizzou lost in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament to Illinois in a penalty shootout.
Clarissa Wedemeyer – Texas in 2011, reportedly has now quit soccer
Wedemeyer is one of two players on this squad (Jennifer Gonzalez is the other) who not only has not played again for the United States in later youth brackets, but has since stopped playing soccer entirely; after one year at the University of Texas, where she missed the first 12 games of the season due to a foot injury, she has since dropped out of the program and no longer plays. She played 9 games in her Texas career, and started 4 of them.
Her absence from the sport is especially significant in that she was part of the core of the U-17 squad; she started every game, and was only subbed out in the second half of the last game.
Abby Dahlkemper – UCLA sophomore central defender
Has started and played every game for UCLA in her first two years (44 games so far), and has been named all-conference defender several times. In 2012 as a sophomore, she scored 3 goals (including 2 game-winners) and 3 assists… all as a center back.
In 2012, UCLA lost in the third round to Stanford.
Taylor Smith – UCLA freshman forward
One of the few (or perhaps the only?) undecided players in terms of college commitment at the time of the 2010 CONCACAF tournament, Smith joined Dahlkemper at UCLA in 2012. She played in all 23 games and started in 17 of those. Finished second on the team (behind Bywaters) in points (34) and goals (8); also had 4 assists. Interestingly, she had the highest shot % (8 goals from 32 shots; Bywaters scored nearly twice as much with almost 3 times the shots) and second in SOG % (behind Chelsea Cline, with 0.562 – 18 shots of 32 on goal).
UCLA lost to Stanford in the quarterfinals.
Alex Doll – Stanford sophomore forward
In a Stanford roster crowded with international talent, Doll made a significant impact even as a freshman, when she played in 23 of the 2011 season’s 26 games, and even earned an assist. More importantly, though, she helped Stanford win their first ever NCAA College Cup title by clearing the ball to safety in the final seconds. That win also gave her another distinction: she was the first of her U-17 squad to win a College Cup (only Heaberlin has also done so, in 2012). As a sophomore in 2012, Doll had even more of an impact with Stanford, starting 23 of 24 games, and, along with 3 assists, scoring 6 goals of her own. With those 15 points, she was tied for third on the team.
Stanford was unable to repeat as College Cup winners, however, losing in the semifinal to eventual winner North Carolina.
Laura Liedle – Stanford freshman, left back
Although Liedle initially appeared to be headed for Chapel Hill, she joined her 2010 U-17 teammate Alex Doll at Stanford, albeit one year behind her. As a freshman, she started all 23 games in 2012, and was third in minutes played behind two senior defenders. An attacking left back, she managed to assist in four goals on the year.
Stanford lost in the semifinals to UNC.
Caroline Stanley – Sophomore goalkeeper at USC
Stanley was a freshman as Missouri (with fellow 2010 U-17 Kaysie Clark), but transferred to USC for her sophomore year. At Mizzou, she appeared in just 4 games, which is not unusual for a freshman keeper – she also tallied time as a field player, which is unusual. As a sophomore at USC, however, she played in 18 of the 19 games in 2012, and started 17 of them. She can boast of 95 saves in those 18 games… and 32 goals allowed.
USC did not make the NCAA tournament in 2012.
Kaili Torres – University of Virginia sophomore forward, a Cross-Conference favorite
Not a big presence freshman year; she played in 21 games, but did not start even one, and scored 1 goal and 3 assists.
In 2012, she got more minutes when the U-20s (and head coach Swanson) were gone: played in all 24 games and started 4. A total of 5 goals and 5 assists (15 pts.) put her tied with Morgan Brian for 5th on the team in points on the season.
UVa lost in the 3rd round to Duke, 3-2.
Olivia Brannon – University of Virginia* sophomore
Brannon missed 2012 U-20s recovering from injury, didn’t miss college action, consistent starter on D… and then got mono. Announced transfer to Michigan for 2013 season. (This is not good news.)
UVa lost in the 3rd round to Duke, 3-2.
Ashley Spivey – Maryland freshman midfielder
Started all 23 games; 5 goals and 3 assists for 13 points (3rd on the team behind the two forwards – and 3rd with goals, too). Maryland’s quirky 2012 season (change of coach, etc) ended in an odd 3-2 loss to Denver in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament.
Spivey also played in the WPSL Elite in 2012 – the semi-pro league that attempted to fill in for WPS when that league folded after the 2011 season. With the ASA Chesapeake Charge, she saw time in 8 of the 13 games, with a goal and an assist.
Havana Solaun – Florida sophomore midfielder
As a freshman at Florida in 2011, Solaun played in 21 of the 25 games (4 starts), with 6 goals and 6 assists for 4th on the team in points. In 2012, as a sophomore, she had an even greater impact, nearly doubling her minutes played and starting all but one of 25 games, and finished second on the team in points with 7 goals and 8 assists.
Florida lost in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament to Notre Dame, 0-2.
Izzy Farrell – University of Washington freshman midfielder; Seattle Sounders Women
Farrell stayed local; having grown up in the Puget Sound area, she committed to the University of Washington in Seattle, and played with the W-League Seattle Sounders Women (at least in the preseason), alongside such senior national team stars as Alex Morgan and Hope Solo.
As a freshman with UW, Farrell played in all 21 games in 2012, starting 19 of them (and was the only freshman to start the season opener against Seattle U). Her 8 points from 2 goals and 4 assists puts her second on the team.
UW lost to Auburn in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Cassie Pecht – Duke freshman midfielder/forward
Pecht started in all 23 matches, contributing assists or goals in 15 of those for the Blue Devils, and set a new freshman assist record. Having scored 6 goals and 15 assists (27 points), she is tied for second in Duke’s record books for points in the freshman season. In the 2012 season, she was ranked third on the team in points.
As a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament, Duke defeated 2-seed Virginia (at Virginia) in the third round but fell 1-0 to top-seed Penn State in the quarterfinals.
Abby Smith – Texas sophomore goalkeeper
Smith played one full game in 2010, against the Cayman Islands, and one full game in the 2012 qualifiers, against Cuba. She was on the squad at the 2012 U-20 World Cup, but did not see time there – the curse of the backup goalkeeper. She is, presumably, still in the player pool, with the U-23s and on. Whether she’ll ever have the chance to become a number one keeper remains to be seen.
With Texas, she did not play as a freshman, but in 2012, did start all 12 games she played in, posting 7 shutouts and 34 saves, with just 8 goals allowed.
Texas did not qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Jaelene Hinkle – Texas Tech sophomore defender
As a freshman in 2011, Hinkle started in 19 of the 20 matches she played. She led the team in assists with 4, and scored 1 goal. In 2012, Hinkle was a consistent starter in all 23 of the Red Raiders’ games and tallied 5 assists on the season. Across her first two seasons, she’s racked up some Big 12 accolades.
Texas Tech lost in the 2nd round to 1-seed and eventual semifinalist Florida State, 2-3.
Jennifer Gonzalez – Committed to LBSU, was on the roster for 2011, but isn’t listed on the stat sheet or in any of the box scores. The strange case of the vanishing youth national team player! She seems to have quit soccer, but we welcome any insight to the contrary.