As 2011 comes to a close, 2012 will be a big year for the USA's youth women's national teams as both the Under-17s and Under-20s prepare for regional qualifying for their respective FIFA Women's World Cups, which will be held toward the end of the year after the Olympics.
As usual, the USA has received byes straight into the final qualifying tournaments, which will both consist of eight teams and be held for the U-20s from March 1-11 in Panama and for the U-17s from May 2-13 in Guatemala.
Meanwhile, the other countries that will be shooting for berths in Uzbekistan (U-20) and Azerbaijan (U-17s) are taking to take shape.
Panama to face Costa Rica for U-17 Women's berth
Marta Cox (no relation to the five-time FIFA player of the year or U.S. defender Stephanie) scored her third goal in two games to lead Panama to a 2-1 win over Nicaragua last Sunday and sent her country into a two-leg playoff for a berth in the CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship.
The result in Managua, Nicaragua, completed an 8-1 aggregate victory after Cox scored the eventual winner in the 71st minute to give Panama a 2-0 lead.
Panama will face Costa Rica on December 7 and December 11 to claim Central America's second berth along with host Guatemala in the May 2-13 tournament.
The first leg is set for Panama with the second in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica reached the playoff by holding El Salvador to a 0-0 draw on Saturday in San Salvador for a 2-0 aggregate victory. Karolina Duran scored once in each half on Wednesday to lead Costa Rica to a 2-0 victory in Heredia, Costa Rica.
Three Caribbean berths to be decided this week
The final three berths for the CONCACAF U-17 Women's Championship will be decided this week in Jamaica as four teams vie for the remaining spots.
Jamaica will host Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and the Bahamas this week at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex in Kingston.
The top three sides will join host Guatemala, Canada, Mexico, the United States and either Costa Rica or Panama in Guatemala City for the finals May 2-13.