Preview: U.S. U-17 WYNT Kicks Off World Cup Qualifying In The Dominican Republic2022 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship; Estadio Panamericano; San Cristobal, Dominican Republic; April 23 – May 8, 2022
U-17 WYNT KICKS OFF CONCACAF WOMEN’S U-17 CHAMPIONSHIP:
The U.S. Under-17 Women’s Youth National team will kick off its World Cup qualifying campaign at the 2022 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship on Saturday, April 23 vs. Grenada (4 p.m. ET / Fox Soccer Plus, ViX App in Spanish) at Estadio Panamericano in San Cristóbal. The match serves as the USA’s first step towards qualification for the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, set for this fall in India.
The U-17 WYNT continues Group G play on Monday, April 25 against Puerto Rico (4 p.m. / FS2, ViX App in Spanish) at Estadio Panamericano and finishes the first round on Wednesday, April 27 vs. Costa Rica (4 p.m. / FS2, ViX App in Spanish) at Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez in Santo Domingo.
All the tournament matches will be broadcast in English on Fox Soccer Plus or FS2 and on the Fox Sports app with corresponding authentication. All matches will be available in Spanish on TelevisaUnivision’s new streaming service ViX. Fans can download the app on their devices to watch all games.
Players born on or after Jan. 1, 2005, are age-eligible for the 2022 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship. U.S. head coach Natalia Astrain selected 16 players born in 2005 and four born in 2006.
2022 CONCACAF WOMEN’S U-17 CHAMPIONSHIP – DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
GROUP G SCHEDULE - USA
Kickoff (ET) / TV
Saturday, April 23
USA vs. Grenada
4 p.m. / Fox Soccer Plus, ViX App in Spanish
Monday, April 25
USA vs. Puerto Rico
4 p.m. / FS2, ViX App in Spanish
Wednesday, April 27
USA vs. Costa Rica
4 p.m. / FS2, ViX App in Spanish
Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez;
This year marks the seventh edition of the Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship. The tournament began in 2008, the first year that FIFA staged a Women’s World Cup for U-17 women.
The 2020 competition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and thus this will be the first Concacaf U-17 tournament to introduce the new 20-team tournament format, which has been used for the previous two Concacaf Under-20 women’s qualifying tournaments. All previous iterations of the U-17 event were comprised of eight teams split into two groups of four. Now, sixteen countries have been drawn into four groups of four, while four countries – Guyana, Honduras, Curaçao and Saint Kitts and Nevis -- have advanced directly to the Round of 16 via a pre-qualifying tournament.
The top three finishers in each group qualify to the Round of 16, where they will be joined by the four teams from pre-qualifying. From there, it’s a knockout bracket to the tournament final. The two winners of the semifinal matches, plus the winner of the third-place game, will qualify to the 2022 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup.
CONCACAF U-17 HISTORY:
The U.S. will be playing to win its fifth Concacaf U-17 Women’s Championship – and third in a row -- after winning this tournament in 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2018. The two Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championships at which the USA finished third – 2010 and 2014, with the USA falling in penalty kicks in the semifinal both times – were both years in which the World Cup was held in Concacaf countries and thus only two berths from the region were up for grabs. The 2018 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship began in Nicaragua in April, but due to civil unrest, the tournament was postponed after the first two matchdays and restarted five weeks later in Florida.
WORLD CUP REPS:
Only four different teams have qualified out of Concacaf for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup: The USA (four times), Mexico (five times), Canada (six times) and Costa Rica (one time). Trinidad & Tobago hosted in 2010 and Costa Rica hosted in 2014, earning automatic berths.
WELCOME TO THE CARIBBEAN:
The Dominican Republic is the eighth country to host this tournament after Trinidad & Tobago (2008), Costa Rica (2010), Guatemala (2012), Jamacia (2013), Grenada (2016) and Nicaragua and the USA (2018). Mexico was to host in 2020 before the tournament was cancelled.
HISTORY OF SUCCESS:
The USA has compiled a 28-0-2 all-time record at this tournament and has outscored its opponents 159-9, but despite the big goal difference, has had plenty of close matches, including one-goal wins over Mexico and Canada, a draw with Mexico, and 3-2 wins over Haiti and Mexico in 2018.
CLIMBING THE LADDER:
The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team had been a launching pad for numerous players who have moved up through the National Team programs to eventually represent the senior USWNT. From 2008-2016, an average of almost four players per U.S. U-17 qualifying team have gone on to represent the full USWNT. In fact, 19 total players who have played for the USA in the Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship have gone on to earn caps at the senior level, including six who won World Cups in either 2015 or 2019. Current USWNT players Morgan Brian, Samantha Mewis, Crystal Dunn and Kristie Mewis played for the team that advanced to the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Final in New Zealand.
QUALIFIED TO INDIA:
Seven countries have already qualified for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup thus far. In addition to host India, China PR and Japan have qualified from Asia via nominations by Asian Football Confederation based on results of 2019 AFC U-16 Women's Championship after the U-17 qualifying tournament was cancelled. Brazil, Chile and Colombia have qualified from the recently completed 2022 South American U-17 Women's Championship, while New Zealand was nominated by the Oceania Football Confederation after their qualifying tournament was also cancelled. Nine berths remain to be filled, three each from Concacaf, Africa and Europe.
RETURN TO ACTION:
The sporting world shut down due to the global COVID-19 pandemic before the 2020 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship could be played. This group of U.S. players has had three training camps together – two last fall and one in February -- but due to the ongoing pandemic, has not been able to play any international matches. Thus, this tournament will mark the first international games for the entire roster at the U-17 level.
Defender Gisele Thompson does have prior experience in a Concacaf tournament as she helped the USA win the 2018 Concacaf U-15 Girls’ Championship in Florida. While the tournament mostly featured players born in 2003, the USA brought a younger team that included 14 players born in 2004 and four in 2005, including Thompson.
U.S. UNDER-17 WOMEN’S YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Hometown):
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Abigail Gundry (NC Courage; Wake Forest, N.C.), 12-Victoria Safradin (Internationals SC; Eastlake, Ohio)
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Nicola Fraser (Real Colorado National; Highlands Ranch, Col.), 17-Alyssa Gonzalez (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), 3-Savannah King (LAFC SoCal Youth; West Hills, Calif.), 4-Cameron Roller (Solar SC; Sherman, Texas), 5-Keegan Schmeiser (Chicago FC United; Bolingbrook, Ill.), 20-Gisele Thompson (Total Futbol Academy; Studio City, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 10-Mia Bhuta (Internationals SC; Pittsburgh, Pa.), 15-Shae Harvey (Slammers FC HB Koge; Hermosa Beach, Calif.), 13-Claire Hutton (World Class FC; Bethlehem, N.Y.), 7-Riley Jackson (Concorde Fire; Roswell, Ga.), 8-Charlotte Kohler (Mountain View Los Altos; Woodside, Calif.), 19-Lauren Martinho (NC Courage; Cary, N.C.)
FORWARDS (6): 18-Onyeka Gamero (Beach FC; Cerritos, Calif.), 11-Nicollette Kiorpes (NEFC; Worcester, Mass.), 6-Mia Oliaro (NC Courage; Chapel Hill, N.C.), 14-Melina Rebimbas (Players Development Academy; Warren, N.J.), 9-Taylor Suarez (Charlotte SA; Charlotte, N.C.), 16-Amalia Villarreal (Michigan Jaguars FC; Lansing, Mich.)
- Nineteen different youth clubs from 11 different states are represented on the roster, with NC Courage placing three players on the team.
- Defender Gisele Thompson is the younger sister (by 13 months) of U.S. U-20 WYNT forward Alyssa Thompson, who helped the USA win the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship earlier this year in the Dominican Republic. Giselle and Alyssa helped the U-15 WYNT win the 2018 Concacaf U-15 Championship. While that tournament featured mostly 2003-birth year players, the USA brought a younger squad composed of players born in 2004 and 2005, including the 2004-born Alyssa and 2005-born Gisele.
- Defender Nicola Fraser is the daughter of former U.S. international and current Colorado Rapids head coach Robin Fraser, who has 27 caps for the USA. Once she plays, Fraser will become the second daughter of a male or female U.S. National Team player to earn a cap at any level of the U.S. Women’s National Teams program. Chicago Red Stars midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, whose father Angelo played 20 times for the USA, earned 20 caps and scored three goals at the U-20 level.
- Midfielder Charlotte Kohler is the daughter of Will Kohler, who was a member of the United States U-17 Men's National Team at the 1991 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Italy. He came off the bench in the first match, a famous 1-0 win over Italy, and played 90 minutes in the third group game, a 3-1 win over China PR. He also came off the bench in the quarterfinal against Qatar, but the USA fell in penalty kicks after drawing 1-1 in regulation.
- The USA has four players 5-foot-10 or taller in Fraser (5-10), defender Cameron Roller (5-11), goalkeeper Victoria Safradin (5-10) and midfielder Shae Harvey (5-10).
- Midfielder Mia Bhuta is a rare USWNT player of Indian heritage and happens to be the correct birth year for a U.S. team that is competing to earn a berth to the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India.
USA U-17s vs. GRENADA:
- While the USA played the 2016 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship in Grenada, the teams have never met in this tournament.
- At that competition, the USA played all five matches in St. George's, Grenada. Current USWNT forward Ashley Sanchez scored five goals.
- Each team will be allowed to make a maximum of three substitutions.
- Beyond the three normal subs, each team will have the option to make concussion substitutions if so needed.
- If one team uses a concussion sub, the opposing team is granted an additional sub as well.
- If match in the knockout stage goes to overtime, each team will get an additional substitution during that time.
- If teams are tied on points at the conclusion of the group stage, the following tiebreakers will be used:
- Goal difference in all group matches
- Greatest number of goals scored in all group matches
- If teams are still tied, the following tiebreakers will be used:
- Greater number of points in matches between the tied teams (head-to-head)
- Greater goal difference in matches between the tied teams (if more than two teams finish equal on points)
- Greater number of goals scored in matches among the tied teams (if more than two teams finish equal on points)
- Lower number of points based on yellow and red cards in all group matches (First yellow = 1 point, second yellow/indirect red = 3 points, direct red = 4 points, yellow and direct red = 5 points)
- Drawing of lots
- Two yellows received in different games during the competition will result in automatic suspension for the next game. Single yellow cards will be eliminated at the end of the group stage.
- In the knockout stage, if teams are tied at the end of regulation, 30 minutes of extra time will be played, and if still tied, matches will go to penalty kicks.
- Estadio Olimpico Felix Sanchez, where the USA will play one group stage match, is named after Dominican hurdler Felix Sanchez, who won gold in the 400m hurdles at the 2004 and 2012 Summer Olympics.
- At the conclusion of the tournament, the following awards will be given out: Fair Play Award, Top Scorer (Golden Boot), Best Player (Golden Ball) and Best Goalkeeper (Golden Glove).
HEAD COACH NATALIA ASTRAIN:
Natalia Astrain was named head coach of the U.S. Under-17 Women’s Youth National Team on Nov. 17, 2021. She joined U.S. Soccer after spending the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League season as an assistant coach with the Kansas City Current and brings a wealth of coaching experience in both the professional and youth ranks. In her native Spain, she served as head coach for FC Barcelona, Club Damm, Club Levante Las Planas and as an assistant with Atletico Madrid and the Spain Women’s National Team. She also spent time as technical director of Barcelona’s women’s academy.
Astrain has worked in the United States since 2017, beginning as the girl’s director at Rise SC in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and assistant academy director with the Houston Dash. She has also served as an assistant coach with U.S. Soccer in the past, working with the U-17 WYNT and U-15 WYNT. She spent 2020-21 as head coach of FC Bay Area in the Women’s Professional Soccer League from before joining Kansas City ahead of the 2021 season.
In addition to her UEFA Pro License, Astrain holds a U.S. Soccer “A” License and master’s degrees in Sport Psychology and High Performance of Team Sports. She has served as an on-air personality for Olympic soccer on NBC Universo, “Mundo Deportivo” in Spain and for FC Barcelona TV.