Aug. 2, 2012
UCLA women's soccer players Sarah Killion and Samantha Mewis were two of 21 players named to the FIFA Under-20 U.S. Women's World Cup team on Thursday, as head coach Steve Swanson announced his team for the Aug. 19 through Sept. 8 competition in Japan.
Below is the official announcement from U.S. Soccer.
CHICAGO - U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team head coach Steve Swanson has named the 21 players who will represent the United States at the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup, being held in Miyagi, Kobe, Saitama, Hiroshima and Tokyo, Japan from Aug. 19 through Sept. 8.
The U.S. plays its first two Group D matches at the Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium in Hiroshima, opening its tournament on Aug. 20 against Ghana at 4 p.m. local (3 a.m. ET) before facing China PR on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. local (6 a.m. ET). The USA will finish the group stage on Aug. 27 against Germany in what will be an extremely rare meeting during group play between former U-20 world champions. The clash between the USA and Germany, who have each won this tournament twice, takes place at Miyagi Stadium in the town of Rifu near Sendai at 4 p.m. local (3 a.m. ET).
"With the size of our country and the quality of players at this age group, putting together this team was not an easy task," said Swanson. "We have had to make some difficult decisions along the way, but we feel confident about this group of players and what each of them individually can bring to the team. They are capable and have already shown they can play some high quality football against some of the best teams in the world."
Swanson named his squad after a two-week training camp in Bradenton, Fla., which was the last extended domestic event for the U.S. team before it departs for Japan in early August. Swanson put his player pool through a thorough evaluation process over the past year and a half, taking a hard look at more than 80 players.
"Overall, this is a talented group of players with a good blend of technical ability, creativity, unselfishness and teamwork," said Swanson. "This team is truly representative of the entire nation, not only in terms of geography but also in the fact that so many quality coaches and teachers have helped develop these players through club, high school and college soccer along the way."
Among the 21 players named are five who were a part of the U.S. team that participated in the 2010 U-20 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. Bryane Heaberlin, who has started the most games (11) in goal for the U-20s this year, was the third goalkeeper on that World Cup Team two years ago when she was 16 and did not see action, but Crystal Dunn, Mollie Pathman, Maya Hayes and Samantha Mewis all played. Dunn played every minute of all four games in the center of the defense while Pathman, the USA's current left back, came off the bench in two matches at outside midfield. Hayes played in all four matches as a wide midfielder and picked up two assists while Mewis played in just one match off the bench in the midfield.
"The roster is a good blend of youth and experience, and we feel one of the strengths of this team is how they play together," said Swanson. "The core of the team has been together almost every month for the past seven months and they have developed into a close-knit team over that time. There is a good chemistry and spirit that runs through this team and hopefully in an event like the World Cup, where talent alone can take you only so far, it will make a difference for us."
The USA will bring a contingent of talented strikers who as a group add size, speed and versatility to the front line. The six forwards scored a combined 92 goals for their college teams during the 2011 season. The most capped player of the six is Hayes, who has played 37 times for the USA at this level and scored 12 international goals, the most on the roster. Thundering strikers Kelly Cobb from Duke, Katie Stengel from Wake Forest and Becca Wann from Richmond give good balance to the speed and craftiness of North Carolina's Kealia Ohai and Stanford's Chioma Ubogagu.
The USA brings a skillful midfield group to Japan led by Morgan Brian, the ACC Freshman of the Year for Virginia last fall and the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the year as a senior. The USA features several midfielders who can make an impact on both sides of the ball, including Vanessa DiBernardo of Illinois, Sarah Killion and Mewis of UCLA, Taylor Schram of Penn State and Mandy Laddish from Notre Dame. Only Schram is uncapped at the U-20 level, and all of the other midfielders have played at least 12 times for the U.S. U-20s.
Mewis has the most international experience of the midfielders, having played in both the 2008 U-17 FIFA Women's World Cup in New Zealand and the 2010 U-20 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. She has played 33 games for the USA at the U-20 level while scoring seven times.
The U.S. defense is a mixture of experience and youth with team captain Julie Johnston (Santa Clara), Kassey Kallman (Florida State), Pathman (Duke) and Dunn (UNC) all having two college seasons on their resumes while Cari Roccaro will enter college this fall and Stephanie Amack just finished her junior year of high school. The trio of goalkeepers consists of Heaberlin, Abby Smith and Jami Kranich. Heaberlin and Smith were the top two `keepers from the last cycle of U.S. U-17s. Smith will be entering college next fall, and Heaberlin enrolled early at North Carolina, where she has been attending class during the spring. Heaberlin played four of the five matches at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament while Smith started the other.
Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bryane Heaberlin (North Carolina; St. Petersburg, Fla.), Jami Kranich (Villanova; Hamden, Conn.), Abby Smith (Dallas Texans; Dallas, Texas)
DEFENDERS (6): Stephanie Amack (Mustang Blast; Pleasanton, Calif.), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina; Rockville Centre, N.Y.), Julie Johnston (Santa Clara; Mesa, Ariz.), Kassey Kallman (Florida State; Woodbury, Minn.), Mollie Pathman (Duke; Durham, N.C.), Cari Roccaro (Albertson Fury; East Islip, N.Y.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Virginia; St. Simons Island, Ga.), Vanessa DiBernardo (Illinois; Naperville, Ill.), Sarah Killion (UCLA; Fort Wayne, Ind.), Mandy Laddish (Notre Dame; Lee's Summit, Mo.), Samantha Mewis (UCLA; Hanson, Mass.), Taylor Schram (Penn State; Canonsburg, Pa.)
FORWARDS (6): Kelly Cobb (Duke; Chugiak, Alaska), Maya Hayes (Penn State; West Orange, N.J.), Kealia Ohai (North Carolina; Draper, Utah), Katie Stengel (Wake Forest; Melbourne, Fla.), Chioma Ubogagu (Stanford; Coppell, Texas), Becca Wann (Richmond; Chesterfield, Va.)