Five Things to Know about the 2024 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship

The U.S. Under-17 Women’s Youth National Team returns to international action on Feb. 2 at the 2024 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship as the young Americans start their pursuit of a World Cup berth. This tournament will be the second regional competition for the 11 players on this roster who helped the USA win the 2022 Concacaf Girls’ U-15 Championship and the first time playing in a Concacaf event for the other 10 players. The 2024 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship runs from Feb. 1-11 in Toluca, Mexico, and the USA is aiming to qualify for the 2024 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup while also playing for a sixth Concacaf title at this age level.

Here are five things to know about the USA’s U-17 World Cup qualifying quest in Mexico:

TOURNAMENT FORMAT

The biennial Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship usually qualifies three teams to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. This year, because the Dominican Republic, a fellow Concacaf participant, is the World Cup host, only two berths are for the taking this tournament, so the two teams that win the semifinals will qualify for the 2024 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. There will be no second chances usually afforded by the third-place match.

The last Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship in 2022, which was increased to 20 nations, featured some lopsided scores (including a 20-0 and 13-0 win for the USA), so the tournament is now back to its original eight-team format.

The countries that finish in the top two in each of the two groups will cross over in the semifinals and the winners of those games will qualify for the World Cup.

The U-17 WYNT kicks off its World Cup qualifying on Friday, Feb. 2 vs. Panama, takes on Puerto Rico on Sunday, Feb. 4 and wraps up the group stage vs. Canada on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

All the USA’s matches will be broadcast in English on FS2 and on the FOX Sports app with corresponding authentication.

Fans can follow all of the action from Toluca on ussoccer.com as well as U.S. Soccer Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Date Match-up Kickoff (ET) / TV Venue
Friday, Feb. 2 USA vs. Panama 1 p.m. / FS2 Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación, A.C.
Sunday, Feb. 4 USA vs. Puerto Rico 1 p.m. / FS2 Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación, A.C.
Tuesday, Feb. 6 USA vs. Canada 1 p.m. / FS2 Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación, A.C.

U-17 ROSTER FEATURES FIRST-EVER PROS

Players born on or after Jan. 1, 2007, are age-eligible for the 2024 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship. U.S. head coach Katie Schoepfer has selected 20 players born in 2007 and one in 2008, that being the soon-to-be 16-year-old Kimmi Ascanio from Florida United. Sixteen-year-old Melanie Barcenas was initially named to the 2022 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship roster as a fourteen-year-old but was ruled out of the competition due to an ankle injury. Two years later, the young pro gets her first chance to play in a Concacaf tournament.

This is the first-ever U.S. Under-17 Women’s World Cup qualifying roster to include professional players: Barcenas from San Diego Wave FC and 16-year-old forward Alex Pfeiffer from the Kansas City Current. Barcenas is entering her second year as a pro – she logged 116 minutes for the Wave in 2023, spanning seven matches – while Pfeiffer will enter her rookie year this upcoming season after KC announced her contract in November as the fourth-youngest player to sign in the NWSL. Barcenas became the youngest player in league history when she signed with San Diego in March of 2023.

2024 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship Roster by Position (Club; Hometown)

Goalkeepers (3): Franky Dunlap (NC Courage Academy; Raleigh, N.C.), Molly Vapensky (Chicago FC United; Evanston, Ill.), Kennedy Zorn (SC del Sol; Peoria, Ariz.)

Defenders (7): Trinity Armstrong (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Lexi Coughlin (Legends FC; Corona, Calif.), Kiara Gilmore (FC Dallas; Allen, Texas), Jordyn Hardeman (Solar SC; Midlothian, Texas), Daya King (Legends FC; Moreno Valley, Calif.), Katie Scott (Internationals SC; Fairview, Penn.), Jocelyn Travers (FC Bay Area Surf; Santa Cruz, Calif.)

Midfielders (6): Kimmi Ascanio (Florida United SC; Doral, Fla.), Melanie Barcenas (San Diego Wave; San Diego, Calif.), Riley Cross (PDA; Chatham, N.J.), Kennedy Fuller (Solar SC; Southlake, Texas), Ainsley McCammon (Solar SC; Bedford, Texas), Y-Lan Nguyen (Virginia Development Academy; Fairfax, Va.)

Forwards (5): Carrie Helfrich (Virginia Union FC; McLean, Va.), Rylee McLanahan (FC Dallas; Edmond, Okla.), Alex Pfeiffer (Kansas City Current; St. Louis, Mo.), Leena Powell (Tudela FC; Culver City, Calif.), Mya Townes (TSJ FC Virginia; Aldie, Va.)

JUST GETTING STARTED

The Concacaf Women’s U-17 championship has been a launching point for many players who have gone on to represent the full USWNT and many more who have played professionally or gone on play at the U-20 level. From 2008-2018, an average of almost three players per U.S. U-17 qualifying team have gone on to represent the full USWNT.

Players who have played in U-17 Concacaf qualifying would eventually represent the full USWNT:

2008: Five players -- Morgan Brian, Crystal Dunn, Kristie Mewis, Samantha Mewis and Erika Tymrak.

2010: Five players -- Brian, Abby Dahlkemper, Jaelene Hinkle, Lindsey Horan and Taylor Smith. Note: Havana Solaun would change associations and go on to score the first-ever World Cup goal for Jamaica in 2019.

2012: Three players -- Jane Campbell, Margaret “Midge” Purce and Andi Sullivan. Toni Payne would change associations and go on to represent Nigeria.

2014 (which played in qualifying at the end of 2013): Two players -- Tegan McGrady and Mallory Pugh.

2016: Four players -- Naomi Girma, who was the 2023 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, Jaelin Howell, Ashley Sanchez and Sophia Smith, who was the 2022 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.

2018: One player -- Mia Fishel, who earned her first cap on Sept. 23, 2023, vs. South Africa and scored her first USWNT goal on Oct. 29, 2023, vs. Colombia. Five players from that team are playing in the NWSL and an additional seven were taken in the 2024 NWSL Draft. Diana Ordonez changed associations and plays for Mexico.

The 2020 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship was cancelled due to the global pandemic.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

This year marks the eighth edition of the Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship, which began in 2008. The U.S. will be playing to win its sixth Concacaf U-17 Women’s Championship – and fourth in a row -- after winning this tournament in 2008, 2012, 2016, 2018 and 2022. The two Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championships at which the USA finished third – in 2010 and 2014 – 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 of that year, but due to civil unrest in the country, the tournament was postponed after the first two match days and restarted five weeks later in Florida.

Only four different teams have qualified out of Concacaf for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup: The USA (five times), Mexico (six times), Canada (seven times) and Costa Rica (one time). Trinidad & Tobago hosted in 2010 and Costa Rica hosted in 2014, thus earning automatic berths to those World Cups.

Mexico is the ninth country to host the Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship after Trinidad & Tobago (2008), Costa Rica (2010), Guatemala (2012), Jamaica (2013), Grenada (2016), Nicaragua and the USA (2018) and the Dominican Republic (2022). Mexico was to host in 2020, before the tournament was cancelled.

SCHOEPFER PAYING IT FORWARD

U.S. U-17 WYNT head coach Katie Schoepfer is the first-ever U.S. head coach for this age group to have played in a women’s professional league in the United States. In fact, she played in two. Schoepfer started her career in WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer), the USA’s second pro league that ran from 2009-2011, where she played for Sky Blue FC and the Boston Breakers. The powerful target forward also played at the start of the National Women’s Soccer League, playing 82 matches for the Boston Breakers from 2013-2016. Schoepfer was a two-time All-American at Penn State where she helped lead the Nittany Lions to four straight Big 10 titles. Schoepfer played for the USA at the U-23 and U-17 levels. Prior to taking over the help of the U-17s, she coached the U.S. U-15s, leading them to title at the 2022 Concacaf Girls’ U-15 Championship.

Go Deeper