U.S. U-17 Women’s Youth National Team Defeats Puerto Rico 3-1 on Matchday Two at Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship

Goals From Helfrich, Travers and Townes Pace the USA to Second-Straight Win; USA Will Play for Top Spot in Group B on Tuesday Against Canada

TOLUCA, Mexico (Feb. 4, 2024) – The U.S. U-17 Women’s Youth National Team earned a hard-fought 3-1 win against Puerto Rico on Matchday Two at the 2024 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship. Goals from forward Carrie Helfrich, defender Jocelyn Travers and forward Mya Townes paced the USA to its second-straight victory and put the team in position to claim top spot in Group B when it faces Canada in Tuesday’s group-stage finale. The USA can officially advance to the semifinals with a Canada win or draw against Panama in Sunday’s other Group B match.

U.S. head coach Katie Schoepfer made nine changes to the lineup that started the 13-0 win against Panama on Friday, and while the USA dominated possession, Puerto Rico’s defensive posture throughout the entire 90 minutes ensured a more difficult challenge than in tournament opener. Playing with all 11 players underneath the center circle, Puerto Rico got high marks for its defensive bunker and intensity to win the ball, but rarely threatened the USA’s back line. The Americans ended up out-shooting Puerto Rico 24-2 and allowed just one shot on goal, which unfortunately went in.

The USA got two good looks inside the first quarter hour. In the fourth minute after winning a free kick from about 25 yards out, midfielder Kimmi Ascanio swerved her service around the wall, but Puerto Rico goalkeeper Kailey Carlen got down to her left to keep out the initial danger. In the 15th minute, a good U.S. build-up down the right led to a centering pass for Ascanio, who laid off the ball on the left for Travers. The outside back cut inside and sent a right footed effort towards the lower right post, but again Carlen was equal to the challenge.

After continual pressure, the U.S. scored two goals in quick succession as Ascanio’s free kick from the left picked out midfielder Riley Cross, whose header across the goal mouth was settled and then slammed home by Helfrich in the 28th minute. Two minutes later, winger Leena Thompson drove into the box before being chopped down and earn a penalty kick for the second straight match. Travers stepped up and sent Carlen the wrong way as she powered home her first goal of the tournament in the 31st minute.

The USA dominated possession again in the second half and created numerous decent scoring chances. Immediately after entering the match, substitute midfielder Melanie Barcenas’ used her first few touches to collect and find space at midfield before cracking a left-footed shot from 30 yards that just flew over the bar. In the 64th minute, forward Rylee McLanahan won a loose ball in the box before pushing her close-range effort just past the left post.

Those two close chances finally led to the next U.S. goal as substitute forward Mya Townes was the beneficiary of some good build-up work through the middle from Barcenas and midfielder Y-Lan Nguyen to make it 3-1 in the 67th minute. Townes nearly bagged a fourth in the game’s dying moments when she pounced on a loose ball in the box and saw her quick-right footed effort turned away by Carlen in the 85th minute.

Perfect through two matches at the 2024 Conacaf Women’s U-17 Championship, the USA (2-0-0; 6pts.) will play for top spot in Group B when it takes on Canada in the group stage finale on Tuesday, Feb. 6 (1 p.m. ET; FS2).


USA – Carrie Helfrich (Riley Cross), 28th minute: The USA opened the scoring on a well-worked set piece. After winning a free kick about 30 yards out on the left, Kimmi Ascanio swung a right-footed effort into the penalty area for Riley Cross who nodded it to the feet of Helfrich on the left. She collected with one touch, before slamming home her right-footed effort inside the lower left post for her first international goal. USA 1, PUR 0

USA – Jocelyn Travers (Penalty Kick), 31st minute: Leena Powell moved past her mark and gained entry into the box on the right before being pulled down by Puerto Rico’s Jannah Pierce. Travers stepped up and powered her spot kick high into the net past Kailey Carlen to give the USA a two-goal edge. USA 2, PUR 0

PUR – Mailya Maldonado, 32nd minute: Puerto Rico responded less than a minute later, and completely against the run of play when Maldonado collected a loose ball at midfield and moved past Riley Cross before launching a 30-yard effort that sailed into the top of the net. USA 2, PUR 1

USA – Mya Townes (Y-Lan Nguyen), 67th minute: With the U.S. beginning to pin Puerto Rico back again, two second-half subs contributed to the team’s third goal. Melanie Barcenas cut through midfield before sending a through ball forward for Nguyen who cleverly slid it for Townes and she tucked home her third goal of the tournament. USA 3, PUR 1 FINAL

Additional Notes:

  • First-half goal scorers Carrie Helfrich and Jocelyn Travers scored their first international goals at U-17 level.
  • Midfielder Kennedy Fuller, who scored five times against Panama on Friday, did not feature in today’s match. Forward Alex Pfeiffer, who had three goals vs. Panama, played 26 minutes, and Mya Townes, who scored twice in the first game, played the second 45.
  • Following her brace in Friday’s tournament opener, Townes bagged her third of the tournament in the 67th minute.
  • Twenty of the 21 players on the roster have played so far with back-up ‘keeper Franky Dunlap as the only player yet to see action.
  • From Group A, Mexico and Haiti have already qualified for the semifinals and will face each other on Feb. 5 for the group title and seedings in semifinal.

-U.S. Under-17 Women’s Youth National Team Match Report-

Match: United States Under-17 Women’s Youth National Team vs. Puerto Rico
Date: Feb. 4, 2024
Competition: Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship
Venue: Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación, A.C. – Field 2; Toluca, Mexico
Attendance: 125
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Noon CT)
Weather: 64 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F
USA                              2          1          3                                             
PUR                              1          0          1         

USA –  Carrie Helfrich (Riley Cross)              28th minute
USA -- Jocelyn Travers (Penalty Kick)         31
PUR – Mailya Maldonado                                 32
USA – Mya Townes (Y-Lan Nguyen)              67

USA: 21-Kennedy Zorn; 3-Lexi Coughlin (13-Katie Scott, 79), 5-Kiara Gilmore, 4-Trinity Armstrong (Capt.) (2-Jordyn Hardeman, 46), 16-Jocelyn Travers; 8-Riley Cross, 19-Y-Lan Nguyen, 7-Kimmi Ascanio (11-Melanie Barcenas, 57); 9-Carrie Helfrich, 18-Rylee McLanahan (17-Alex Pfeiffer, 64), 14-Leena Powell (20-Mya Townes, 46)
Substitutes not used: 1-Molly Vapensky; 6-Ainsley McCammon, 10-Kennedy Fuller, 12-Franky Dunlap, 15-Daya King
Head Coach: Katie Schoepfer

PUR: 12-Kailey Carlen; 3-Gabriela Berrios, 16-Kaylee Rivera, 5-Katsi Bengoa (17-Natalia Rivera, 84) 11-Mailya Maldonado (7-Adelina Torres-Rava, 60), 13-Lauryn Smith; 15-Jannah Elise Pierce (6-Hailey Martinez, 85), 20-Sarah Martinez (Capt.), 4-Olivia Bevilacqua (2-Evangelina Arocho, 69), 9-Sienna Aviles (8-Camila Figueroa, 46), 18-Susana Roberts
Substitutes not used: 1-Camila Berrios, 10-Amanda Rodriguez, 14-Carla Osborne, 19-Gabriela Rose Colon, 21-Trishelle Lopez
Head coach: Keishawn Cordier

Stats Summary: USA / PUR
Shots: 24 / 2
Shots on Goal: 11 / 1
Saves: 0 / 8
Corner Kicks: 5 / 2
Fouls: 5 / 6
Offside: 3 / 1

Misconduct Summary:                        

Referee: Neressa Gordon (JAM)
1st Assistant Referee: Mojollee Gayle (JAM)
2nd Assistant Referee: Shirleen Alleyen (JAM)
4th Official: Shandor Wilkinson (SKN)