U.S. Soccer
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Walker Zimmerman Has Plenty of Goals for 2018

A year ago, Walker Zimmerman was just completing the initial week of his first U.S. Men’s National Team camp. A month of hard work eventually led to the rising center back earning his first MNT cap, going the full 90 minutes and looking comfortable in a 1-0 win against Jamaica.

“I think just realizing that you belong at this level is the main [takeaway],” he said after that game. “Training with all these amazing players in camp, performing well in camp and in the game, all you can do is put your best foot forward and put the effort in and the rest is up to the coaching staff.”

One metric for success in January Camp – perhaps the only one for first timers - is whether or not a player is included on future rosters. It’s not always easy to break into a well-established group of players, and in the case of last year especially one trying to qualify for the World Cup. But Zimmerman was one of a few players to earn another call, joining the MNT for its crucial set of World Cup Qualifying matches during the March window, and though he didn’t play in either game, his presence was instructive that perhaps we’d see him again in the future.

Walker Zimmerman - U.S. Men's National Team 2018

Arriving back in January Camp this year, Zimmerman is part of a group pushing the MNT forward after the team’s narrow miss on qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. At 24, he’s at the exact median of age for the roster, but is no longer the fresh face in camp. Though he only has one cap, it’s one more than 15 of the 29 players on the roster.

“It’s definitely a different dynamic, not only for myself, but for the group,” Zimmerman told ussoccer.com. “There’s a lot of young guys here and I think it presents an opportunity for me to step up and become more of a leader and in a sense a veteran presence. My mentality has been pretty similar to last year. Come in, stay humble, work hard and embrace the grind of January Camp for all that it is.”

The camp will also allow him to get an early adjustment to his new home, with FC Dallas trading the center back to MLS expansion side LAFC last month. Zimmerman said he was excited to get to work with former U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley and be part of a new team with a fresh slate.

“I got to meet Bob last month and obviously he has a ton of experience and insight from being all over the world. He’s a manager I definitely respect and I know I can learn a lot from him and his staff. I’m sure the things I learn with my club can help me on the international level as well. There’s a lot of appeal right now with LAFC, and I definitely think there will be some carry-over and positive effects that can translate from LAFC to the National Team.”

Along with approaching January Camp the right way, the new LAFC center back has goals, beginning with trying to make the starting XI for the MNT’s end-of-camp friendly on January 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

From there, he wants consistency for himself on the international level.

“I don’t want to set any goal too low. I want to make it attainable, but something that I’m chasing on an individual level would be getting called in each and every camp. It’s about not only being in and out, but trying to become a staple here. I’m trying to take every opportunity seriously and knowing how much that can do for your career.”

And aside from the personal goals, Zimmerman wants to be part of the group that pushes the program past the disappointment of missing the World Cup and towards qualification for 2022.

“There’s a lot of motivation from a lot of players – myself included – to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We can become a team that sticks together and we can approach 2022 from this day right here. We don’t want to start getting serious come qualifying time. We want to set the tone now, set the tone for the group for years to come and hopefully just continue to create the culture and pride that we know we have in this country. I’m proud to play for this team each and every time.”

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MNT Jan 15, 2018

GALLERY: California Golden Hour with Abby Dahlkemper and Taylor Smith

During an afternoon off from January Camp training, WNT photographer Brad Smith and defenders Abby Dahlkemper and Taylor Smith, took a trip down to Manhattan Beach Pier to capture some cool shots against the stunning backdrop of a Southern California sunset.

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WNT Jan 15, 2018

Five Things to Know About the CONCACAF Women's U-20 Championship

The U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team kicks off its World Cup qualifying campaign this week in Trinidad and Tobago at the CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship. Here are five things you should know about the team’s quest for a World Cup berth and the Confederation title.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship serves as the region’s championship and qualification tournament for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France. Three of the 16 World Cup spots are up for grabs in Trinidad, as the finalists and third-place match winner will advance to the World Cup in August.

Eight teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean make up the field. The U.S., Canada and Mexico received automatic bids, while Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Haiti qualified through regional competitions. Host Trinidad and Tobago received an automatic bid. The USA was drawn into Group B alongside Jamaica, Mexico and Nicaragua.

Group A

Group B

Trinidad and Tobago

Jamaica

Canada

Mexico

Costa Rica

Nicaragua

Haiti

USA


ABOUT THE U-20S

Head coach Jitka Klimkova has called in an experienced group for the tournament. Thirteen of the 20 players on the roster have previously played in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying at the youth level and 11 have played in a youth FIFA Women’s World Cup.

2018 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship Roster (College or Club; Hometown; Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (2): Laurel Ivory (Virginia; Surfside, Fla.; 5/0), Amanda McGlynn (Virginia Tech; Jacksonville, Fla.; 2/0)          
DEFENDERS (7): Tierna Davidson (Stanford; Menlo Park, Calif.; 6/0), Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC; 6/0; San Jose, Calif.), Tara McKeown (USC; Mission Viejo, Calif.; 11/0), Zoe Morse (Virginia; East Lansing, Mich.; 9/0), Kiara Pickett (Stanford; Santa Barbara, Calif.; 2/0), Isabel Rodriguez (Ohio State; Canton, Mich.; 8/0), Karina Rodriguez (UCLA; Torrance, Calif.; 3/0)                                                   
MIDFIELDERS (5): Samantha Coffey (Boston College; Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.; 7/1), Savannah DeMelo (USC; Bellflower, Calif.; 23/4), Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.; 12/0), Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat; Durham, N.C.; 9/0), Viviana Villacorta (UCLA; Lawndale, Calif.; 10/1)                                 
FORWARDS (6): Abigail Kim (California; Vashon, Wash.; 11/3), Civana Kuhlmann (Stanford; Littleton, Colo.; 12/8), Ashley Sanchez (UCLA; Monrovia, Calif.; 20/6), Sophia Smith (Real Colorado; Windsor, Colo.; 11/8), Taryn Torres (Virginia; Frisco, Texas; 3/1), Kelsey Turnbow (Santa Clara; Scottsdale, Ariz.; 8/2)                                  

Twelve players on the roster just completed their freshman collegiate seasons, four wrapped up their sophomore campaigns while four currently play for youth clubs- all in the U.S. Soccer Girls’ Development Academy. The youngest player on the roster, forward Sophia Smith, earned U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year honors last month.

Ten colleges are represented on the roster, with three players coming from recently-crowned NCAA champion Stanford: defenders Tierna Davidson and Kiara Pickett as well as forward Civana Kuhlmann. Davidson was called to the senior WNT’s annual January Camp and will come to Trinidad directly from Southern California for the competition.  

COMPETITION HISTORY

The tournament began in 2002 as the CONCACAF U-19 Women’s Championship, serving to qualify nations to the first-ever U-19 Women’s World Cup. The inaugural tournament was also played in Trinidad and Tobago as the USA and Mexico won their groups to advance to the World Cup.

North American squads have dominated the biennial competition -- the USA, Canada and Mexico have finished as finalists at all eight previous editions of the tournament. Costa Rica is the only non-North American squad to qualify for the World Cup, earning third-place finishes in 2004, 2010 and 2014. 

RED, WHITE AND BLUE LEGACY

The USA sports a strong history at the event, entering as the four-time defending champion (2010, 2012, 2014, 2015). The red, white and blue have appeared in all eight tournaments and qualified for the World Cup each time, earning their first CONCACF championship in 2006.

Several current WNT stalwarts have shone at the CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship: Kelley O’Hara, Sydney Leroux and Mallory Pugh have all taken home Golden Boot honors, in 2008, 2010 and 2015, respectively.

Four players on the current roster also appeared in the 2015 tournament: Davidson, Savannah DeMelo, Kiara Pickett and Ashley Sanchez. Davidson and DeMelo played in all five games for the U-20s, while Sanchez scored the tournament-winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Canada in the Final.  Davidson, DeMelo and Sanchez all earned tournament Best XI-honors.

HOW TO FOLLOW


Date

Match

Kickoff (ET)

Venue

Jan. 19

USA vs. Nicaragua

5:30 p.m.

Ato Boldon Stadium; Couva, Trinidad

Jan. 21

USA vs. Jamaica

6:30 p.m.

Ato Boldon Stadium; Couva, Trinidad

Jan. 23

USA vs. Mexico

3:00 p.m.

Ato Boldon Stadium; Couva, Trinidad

The U-20s open play on Friday, Jan. 19 against Nicaragua, take on Jamaica on Sunday, Jan. 21 and wrap up pool play on Tuesday, Jan. 23 against Mexico.

Fans can follow all of this month’s action on ussoccer.com U.S. Soccer’s official Facebook, Twitter (@ussoccer_ynt) and Instagram (@ussoccer_ynt) channel
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U-20 WNT Jan 15, 2018

GALLERY: Faces of the MNT's 2018 January Camp

Now more than ever, January Camp is all about opportunity.

With 21 players on this year’s camp roster age 24 and under, and 15 players looking for their first cap, there’s plenty for the 29 guys gathered in Carson, Calif., to be excited about leading up to the MNT’s first friendly of the year on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On arrival day last week, ussoccer.com collected portrait shots capturing the moment when this special opportunity began. Some were exuberant; some were focused. All make up the Faces of January Camp.

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MNT Jan 15, 2018
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