In the short time the U-17s have been in existence (the team was added by U.S. Soccer last year to help develop players for the U-19 WNT) it has begun a small winning streak against international competition. With its latest 5-2 win against Canada on Tuesday (March 9), the U-17s are a perfect 4-0 against other national teams.
Actually, at the end of the Canada game it was sort of a shock. Obviously, it wasn’t a shock that the U.S. won, but rather that Canada actually scored two goals. You see, last year’s U-17 WNT didn’t even let a single ball touch the back of their net. The 2003 U-17s outscored their opponents Canada and Germany (which they played twice) 9-0.
While shutting out every national team you play is an impossible task, beating every one you face isn’t such an easy task either. And while all four of their victories may have come against just two teams, Germany and Canada, you have to remember that these are the two countries that full women’s national teams finished first and fourth, respectively, in the 2003 Women’s World Cup.
Part of the reason women’s teams across the world are improving is their ability to find talent at a young age and get them the international experience to improve. So, how is it that the U.S. U-17s have been able to stomp on their competition to this point?
“I think one of the things we have mentioned and stressed is defense,” said Patrick Baker, usually an assistant for the U-17s, but acting as the head coach during the camp in Bradenton as Dave Smith’s wife recently gave birth to their first baby. “We didn’t give up any goals last year and even though we did yesterday, it takes something special to score against us.”
Baker also said that most of the players they invite into camps where they play international competition are available, giving them the most potent squad possible.
“We’ve also played really good soccer in all of our international matches, allowing us to get good results,” Baker stressed.
While continuing to get the positive results is one of the main objectives, Baker said the coaches are also committed to changing their lineup as often as possible to see as many players as possible, allowing them to find the best of the best.
“Tomorrow, while we want to get the win, we also will give some players their first appearance for the U.S.,” he said.
And the one thing that is a sure bet is that whichever girls are on the field, they will do everything they can to keep the winning streak alive.