Five Players Return to Play in a Second U-20 WWC; USA to Face Ghana, China PR and Germany in Group Play
CHICAGO (Aug. 2, 2012) – U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Steve Swanson has named the 21 players who will represent the United States at the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, being held in Miyagi, Kobe, Saitama, Hiroshima and Tokyo, Japan from Aug. 19 through Sept. 8.
The U.S. plays its first two Group D matches at the Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium in Hiroshima, opening its tournament on Aug. 20 against Ghana at 4 p.m. local (3 a.m. ET) before facing China PR on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. local (6 a.m. ET). The USA will finish the group stage on Aug. 27 against Germany in what will be an extremely rare meeting during group play between former U-20 world champions. The clash between the USA and Germany, who have each won this tournament twice, takes place at Miyagi Stadium in the town of Rifu near Sendai at 4 p.m. local (3 a.m. ET).
“With the size of our country and the quality of players at this age group, putting together this team was not an easy task,” said Swanson. “We have had to make some difficult decisions along the way, but we feel confident about this group of players and what each of them individually can bring to the team. They are capable and have already shown they can play some high quality football against some of the best teams in the world.”
Swanson named his squad after a two-week training camp in Bradenton, Fla., which was the last extended domestic event for the U.S. team before it departs for Japan in early August. Swanson put his player pool through a thorough evaluation process over the past year and a half, taking a hard look at more than 80 players.
“Overall, this is a talented group of players with a good blend of technical ability, creativity, unselfishness and teamwork,” said Swanson. “This team is truly representative of the entire nation, not only in terms of geography but also in the fact that so many quality coaches and teachers have helped develop these players through club, high school and college soccer along the way.”
Among the 21 players named are five who were a part of the U.S. team that participated in the 2010 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. Bryane Heaberlin, who has started the most games (11) in goal for the U-20s this year, was the third goalkeeper on that World Cup Team two years ago when she was 16 and did not see action, but Crystal Dunn, Mollie Pathman, Maya Hayes and Samantha Mewis all played. Dunn played every minute of all four games in the center of the defense while Pathman, the USA’s current left back, came off the bench in two matches at outside midfield. Hayes played in all four matches as a wide midfielder and picked up two assists while Mewis played in just one match off the bench in the midfield.
“The roster is a good blend of youth and experience, and we feel one of the strengths of this team is how they play together,” said Swanson. “The core of the team has been together almost every month for the past seven months and they have developed into a close-knit team over that time. There is a good chemistry and spirit that runs through this team and hopefully in an event like the World Cup, where talent alone can take you only so far, it will make a difference for us.”
The USA will bring a contingent of talented strikers who as a group add size, speed and versatility to the front line. The six forwards scored a combined 92 goals for their college teams during the 2011 season. The most capped player of the six is Hayes, who has played 37 times for the USA at this level and scored 12 international goals, the most on the roster. Thundering strikers Kelly Cobb from Duke, Katie Stengel from Wake Forest and Becca Wann from Richmond give good balance to the speed and craftiness of North Carolina’s Kealia Ohai and Stanford’s Chioma Ubogagu.
The USA brings a skillful midfield group to Japan led by Morgan Brian, the ACC Freshman of the Year for Virginia last fall and the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the year as a senior. The USA features several midfielders who can make an impact on both sides of the ball, including Vanessa DiBernardo of Illinois, Sarah Killion and Mewis of UCLA, Taylor Schram of Penn State and Mandy Laddish from Notre Dame. Only Schram is uncapped at the U-20 level, and all of the other midfielders have played at least 12 times for the U.S. U-20s.
Mewis has the most international experience of the midfielders, having played in both the 2008 U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and the 2010 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. She has played 33 games for the USA at the U-20 level while scoring seven times.
The U.S. defense is a mixture of experience and youth with team captain Julie Johnston (Santa Clara), Kassey Kallman (Florida State), Pathman (Duke) and Dunn (UNC) all having two college seasons on their resumes while Cari Roccaro will enter college this fall and Stephanie Amack just finished her junior year of high school.
The trio of goalkeepers consists of Heaberlin, Abby Smith and Jami Kranich. Heaberlin and Smith were the top two ‘keepers from the last cycle of U.S. U-17s. Smith will be entering college next fall, and Heaberlin enrolled early at North Carolina, where she has been attending class during the spring. Heaberlin played four of the five matches at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament while Smith started the other.
- The USA will head into the Women’s World Cup having compiled a record of 12-1-0 this year in international matches.
- The lone loss came against the Women’s World Cup hosts by a 1-0 score on a June trip to Japan. The USA won the second match against Japan by a 2-0 score three days later.
- The age cut-off date for this Women’s World Cup is players born on or after Jan. 1, 1992. Sixteen of the 21 players selected by Swanson were born in 1992, three were born in 1993 and two were born in 1994, meaning they would be age-eligible for the 2014 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
- The youngest player selected was Amack, who was born two days before Christmas in 1994 and will not turn 18 until the end of the year. She is the only player still in high school.
- Lindsey Horan, the USA’s top scorer this year, was ruled out of the tournament after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery about a month before the start of the World Cup.
- Swanson selected one rising high school senior (Amack), two graduating high school seniors (Roccaro and Smith), one graduated high school senior (Heaberlin), six rising sophomores and 11 rising juniors. Thirteen different colleges are represented on the roster, with three players from UNC and two each from UCLA, Penn State and Duke.
- Twenty different youth clubs are represented on the roster from 18 different states.
- The 16 nations competing in the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup are: host Japan; China PR, Korea DPR and Korea Republic from Asia; Ghana and Nigeria from Africa; Germany, Italy, Norway and Switzerland from Europe; the USA, Canada and Mexico from CONCACAF; Brazil and Argentina from South America; and New Zealand from Oceania.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bryane Heaberlin (North Carolina; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Jami Kranich (Villanova; Hamden, Conn.), Abby Smith (Dallas Texans; Dallas, Texas)
DEFENDERS (6): Stephanie Amack (Mustang Blast; Pleasanton, Calif.), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina; Rockville Centre, N.Y.), Julie Johnston (Santa Clara; Mesa, Ariz.), Kassey Kallman (Florida State; Woodbury, Minn.), Mollie Pathman (Duke; Durham, N.C.), Cari Roccaro (Albertson Fury; East Islip, N.Y.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Virginia; St. Simons Island, Ga.), Vanessa DiBernardo (Illinois; Naperville, Ill.), Sarah Killion (UCLA; Fort Wayne, Ind.), Mandy Laddish (Notre Dame; Lee’s Summit, Mo.), Samantha Mewis (UCLA; Hanson, Mass.), Taylor Schram (Penn State; Canonsburg, Pa.)
FORWARDS (6): Kelly Cobb (Duke; Chugiak, Alaska), Maya Hayes (Penn State; West Orange, N.J.), Kealia Ohai (North Carolina; Draper, Utah), Katie Stengel (Wake Forest; Melbourne, Fla.), Chioma Ubogagu (Stanford; Coppell, Texas), Becca Wann (Richmond; Chesterfield, Va.)
2012 U.S. U-20 Women’s World Cup Team Bio Shorts
Bryane Heaberlin (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
The youngest player on the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup team, she did not see action in that tournament but that will likely change in Japan as she has seen the most minutes in goal for the U-20s this year. Hard-working, brave and a good communicator, Heaberlin has 11 caps for the U-20s and is one of the top young ‘keepers in the nation, but has also received some positive attention for creating her foundation – Many Hearts, One Goal – to help assist members of the Haitian youth women’s national soccer teams.
Jami Kranich (Hamden, Conn.)
Made a run during the latter stage of this cycle to earn a spot on the World Cup Team, but has played just one international match so far. A two-year starter at Villanova – alma mater of the USA’s Olympic alternate goalkeeper Jill Loyden – she has good size and presence in the net. As a sophomore last season she played every minute of all 19 team games for the Wildcats.
Abby Smith (Dallas, Texas)
Smith has quite a bit of experience in the USA’s youth national team programs, having paired with Heaberlin to get most of the goalkeeper call-ups during the previous U-17 WNT cycle. A recent graduate Plano West High School, she will attend her home state school Texas in the fall. She has played in four international matches for the USA this year, starting two.
Stephanie Amack (Pleasanton, Calif.)
The USA’s youngest player on the roster and only one currently in high school, Amack is one of the tallest players on the roster (5-foot-10) and smooth on the ball. She is one of two players on the roster who are age-eligible for the next U-20 Women’s World Cup and will add depth to the U.S. defense at outside back.
Crystal Dunn (Rockville Centre, N.Y.)
A tremendous ball-winner and speedy outside back, she has perhaps the most international experience on the team (33 U-20 caps), having been a starter in both the 2008 U-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She played center back in Germany two years ago, but will play her trade on the flank this fall. A forward at UNC, she scored three goals with six assists last season.
Julie Johnston (Mesa, Ariz.)
The U.S. captain is a versatile player, seeing most of her time during this cycle at defensive midfielder, a position where she excels, but could also see time at center back. She scored three goals at CONCACAF qualifying, including a spectacular strike from outside the box. She has played 41 matches over two seasons for the Broncos and her experience and leadership will be a key to the USA’s success.
Kassey Kallman (Woodbury, Minn.)
The rugged defender out of Minnesota was the only player to play every minute of the qualifying tournament and is tough into the tackle and on air balls. She was the only freshman to start every game for Florida State as a rookie, then followed that up by starting all 26 games during her sophomore campaign – leading the team in minutes played – to help the Seminoles to the NCAA College Cup.
Mollie Pathman (Durham, N.C.)
Pathman was a late add to the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Team and ended up contributing off the bench at flank midfield. With two seasons under her belt at Duke and 19 U-20 caps heading into the WWC, the sometimes U-20 captain is one of the USA’s calmest and most skillful players on the ball. Her attacking down the left flank also adds different dimensions to the U.S. attack.
Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y.)
The Long Island product is tough, vocal and a biting tackler. She was a key player as one of the youngest players in the last cycle of U-17s and is one of the two players on the roster who is age-eligible for the next U-20 WWC. A good leader from the back despite her age, she will take her talents to South Bend this fall as a freshman at Notre Dame.
Morgan Brian (St. Simons Island, Ga.)
One of the most creative young midfielders in the USA, the skillful Brian was the ACC Freshman of the Year last fall for the University of Virginia when she scored 11 goals with eight assists, highlighting her excellent playmaking skills with the ability to score goals, as well. The former U.S. U-17 captain is fun to watch and could be one of the most interesting players at the World Cup in Japan.
Vanessa DiBernardo (Naperville, Ill.)
She is the daughter of former U.S. Men’s National Team player Angelo DiBernardo who represented the United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s and also played for the New York Cosmos. The flashy midfielder scored twice at CONCACAF qualifying while playing in all five games. She was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2010 and the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year in 2011 when she scored 17 goals.
Sarah Killion (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
One of the best young two-way midfielders in the country, Killion is slick on the ball and hard into the tackle. The Indiana product played in 21 games as a freshman last season for UCLA and is a player willing to do the hard work in the center of the field.
Mandy Laddish (Lee’s Summit, Mo.)
A member of the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Team in New Zealand, where she played in one match, Laddish has quite a bit of experience in the USA’s youth national team programs. The skillful midfielder was one of the heroes of Notre Dame’s 2010 NCAA title when she scored the lone goal in the College Cup semifinal win over Ohio State on a spectacular strike.
Samantha Mewis (Hanson, Mass.)
Mewis possesses some unique skills to go with her tremendous height (5-11) and is dominant in the air. An excellent passer – she had seven assists as a freshman at UCLA – but she can also score, pounding in six goals for the Bruins. A member of the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Team and the 2010 U-20 Women’s World Cup Team, she is one of two players on the team (along with Crystal Dunn) who has already played in two FIFA youth World Cups. One of the most experienced players on the U.S. team at the U-20 level, she has 33 caps with seven international goals.
Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.)
Schram made a late run to make the final roster, overcoming some injuries that had kept her out of training camps this year. Crafty and quick, she notched double figures in goals and assists for Penn State last season with 12 of each. She has yet to be capped at the U-20 level, but will add depth to the U.S. midfield.
Kelly Cobb (Chugiak, Alaska)
The first player from Alaska to represent the USA in a Women’s World Cup at any level, Cobb is a powerful striker who scored 11 goals for Duke last season. She overcame an injury that kept her out of numerous training camps this year to make the World Cup Team and can cause problems for any defense with her strength and speed.
Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.)
Hayes scored a remarkable 31 goals for Penn State last season and is also the top career scorer on this U-20 team with 12 career international goals. The speedy attacker is also skillful and a dynamic one-on-one dribbler. She was a member of the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Team, playing in four games while starting two and picking up two assists.
Kealia Ohai (Draper, Utah)
One of the USA’s fastest players, the active Ohai is a pure winger who excels at getting down the flanks and sending in crosses or cutting inside for shots. She has scored 20 goals in two seasons so far at UNC and scored one goal with two assists at CONCACAF qualifying. She set up both goals in the championship game with dynamic runs down the wings as the USA came back from a goal down to defeat Canada 2-1 to win the regional title.
Katie Stengel (Melbourne, Fla.)
One of the strongest strikers in the country, Stengel pounded in 19 goals for Wake Forest last season when she was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and picked up almost every honor possible. She scored three goals with two assists at CONCACAF qualifying while playing in four matches and it is likely her style of play will prove difficult to contain at the Women’s World Cup.
Chioma Ubogagu (Coppell, Texas)
A dynamic attacking player with great speed and skill, she was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year last season when she scored 10 goals with 10 assists and played a key role in Stanford’s first NCAA title. A fantastic one-on-one player, she scored the dramatic game-winning goal in the dying minutes of the championship game of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament.
Becca Wann (Chesterfield, Va.)
One of the two uncapped players on the roster, she made a late run to make the squad and adds tremendous athleticism (she plays soccer and basketball at Richmond) as well as a dangerous weapon on set plays due to her aerial dominance. She has scored 25 goals in two seasons for the Spiders.