ussoccer.com: Your age group is one in which the players go through a lot of growth over the two-year cycle. How do you take that into consideration when choosing a roster?
B.J. Snow: “The main focus for our U-17 National Team is to evaluate and develop players that have the potential to navigate through our Youth National Team system and it’s critical that we always keep this mindset at the forefront of our philosophy. At the same time, we never want to lose sight of the tradition of winning and the standards that have been created by those that have preceded us. At this level there is always a fine line in the selection process of deciding who gives us the best chance of winning now vs. those players that have the best chance of moving forward with our National Teams. With this current roster, we feel we have identified a group of young players that gives us the balance of being able to compete with the top teams in the world now but who also possess the potential to be the future of U.S. women’s soccer.”
ussoccer.com: Your players have tremendous role models in the older players in the WNT pools and of course the senior team itself. How does that help you prepare the team?
BJS: “It is vitally important for people that aspire to be great at something to have role models that reflect the commitment, courage and dedication that is required to do something extraordinary. Our current players are lucky to have to look no further than our current Women’s National Team for inspiration. The success they achieved this past summer by winning the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup is something that we talk about all of the time. We do not focus on the outcome but instead look deep inside their journey to try and find the key factors that helped contribute to their success. You don’t win a world championship without the full commitment of every player and staff member knowing their specific roles and doing it to the best of their abilities. The outside world only see’s the final game and the celebration but we try to instill our players with the knowledge of the years of sacrifice and dedication that is required to prepare yourself for that one moment in time.”
ussoccer.com: You set high goals and standards for your players and it seems like a highly motivated group?
BJS: “If you ask every player that comes into one of our Youth National Team camps what their ultimate goal is, nearly every one of them is going to tell you that they want to play for our senior Women’s National Team in a World Cup or an Olympics. Unfortunately, not every player that comes through our system is going to be able to accomplish this goal. However, after the success of our team winning the World Cup this past summer there has been no better time in this country than now to be inspired by.”
ussoccer.com: What are some of the main goals for how you’d like to see the team play?
BJS: “We have worked hard to try and develop a philosophy on how we want our Youth National Teams to play. Ultimately it is our job to be able to identify players that have the ability to execute the technical and tactical demands that relate to this philosophy. The next phase requires us to start layering in concepts for how we want to play both offensively and defensively. I have been very impressed with how this group has been able to learn and retain all of the information that we put in front of them. In the modern game, you have to have teams and players that can adapt and solve problems and I feel that this team has a lot of versatility to be able to play several different ways.”
ussoccer.com: How will the NTC Invitational figure in your final preparations for World Cup qualifying?
BJS: “This group of players has been resolute in their commitment to prepare for the upcoming qualification tournament both individually and collectively. The NTC Invitational will give us yet another preparation platform that will enable us to test ourselves against three excellent opponents. It will allow us to hopefully get the truest snapshot of where we are as a team so we can continue to refine our preparation as we gear up for World Cup Qualifying. Our sole goal at this point in time is to try and make our country proud by going to Grenada and qualifying for the 2016 FIFA U17 World Cup.”