U.S. UNDER-18 WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM
Head Coach: April Heinrichs
Major Competition: None
Eligibility: Players born on or after January 1, 1994
U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team
In 2008, the U.S. Under-18 Women’s National Team was reinstituted (after having existed from 1998-2001) to give international competition to players who have just finished a cycle with the U.S. U-17s, but are a year away from the next U-20 cycle.
With the addition of the U-18s, the U.S. Women’s National Team program has teams at the U-14, U-15, U-17, U-18, U-20, U-23 and full Women’s National Team levels. The structure now mirrors the men’s side (which sends its U-23 team to the Olympics) and with the inception of the U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup, now competes every two years for FIFA U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cup titles.
The U-18 WNT provides a transition for a number of those players that could possibly make up the core of the team that would attempt to qualify for the following U-20 Women’s World Cup, or even contribute to the current cycle of U-20s. The U-18s also provide a proving ground for players in the U-20 pool who may be just below the core group training for the U-20 Women’s World Cup, giving them an environment to show that they are worthy of being pulled back into the top tier of U-20s.
Dave Chesler coached the U-18s in 2009 and 2010, but in 2011, U.S. Soccer Women’s Technical Director April Heinrichs took over will once again guide the program in 2012. In 2011, the squad went 3-1-1 that included a victory over the German U-18s and a loss to the Japanese U-20s. In 2010, the squad went 4-2-2 and in 2009 Chesler led the team to a 4-0-3 record which included a 5-1 victory against the Canadian U-20 WNT. This year’s group of players, primarily born in 1994, will have several domestic training camps. Several of the U-18s may be called into U-20 events as that group of players begins more intense preparations for the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
Dean Duerst, who coached the U.S. U-17s in 2007, led the 2008 U-18s to a highly successful year, defeating three college teams and winning six games against European U-19s sides in Europe. The U.S. U-18s had a nice run of success during the late 1990s, winning the 1999 Pan-American Games in Canada and going 14-0-3 during the year. Shannon Cirovski, a veteran of the USA’s 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship team, was the first coach of the U-18s in 1998 before then U.S. Women’s National Team assistant coach Jay Hoffman grabbed the reins and guided the team to Pan-Am gold.