US Soccer will send the U-18s to La Manga, Spain, to participate in the 10 Nations Tournament, March 3-13. The US usually send two youth teams to La Manga every spring, sometimes three; the U-18s were last there in 2010. This year, the U-23s will also go to their own tournament in La Manga; they are traveling today and will start play March 1.
This Under-18 team is, of course, the nucleus of what will become the 2016 Under-20s. Of the 20 players named to the roster, 18 have been with this team at least once since the cycle began at the beginning of 2013. Those 18 were all born in 1996, meaning their 18th birthday is this year.
The exceptions are Darian Jenkins and Amber Munerlyn, who are both forwards and are both 19 (born in January 1995), and would therefore not be eligible for the next cycle of U-20s. Neither have ever trained with these U-18s. In fact, both spent a lot of time with the current U-20s (who are sitting out this La Manga trip), but did not make the final cut for the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying team in January. As they won’t be able to continue with the U-18s when they transfer to the U-20s next year, we can assume this is another chance for them to make the U-20 cut before preparation begins in earnest for the U-20 Women’s World Cup in August.
Of the 18 core U-18 players, 17 were in the last camp of 2013, in December. Jordan DiBiasi missed that camp but was in four prior U-18 camps last year, so she’s not new. Two players in that December camp were first-timers then – Anna Bialczak and Niki Romero – while Jessica Vigna has been in just the last two U-18 camps. While there is clearly a core to the team, there is still quite a bit of experimentation as well.
These games in Spain will be the first competitive matches for the U-18s. In fact, except for the two 19-year-olds, who were in the last U-17 cycle (and went to the U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2012), for the players it will be the first ever “real” matches in US jerseys.
US U-18 WNT Roster:
Goalkeepers: Rosemary Chandler (Concorde Fire; Atlanta, Ga.), Casey Murphy (PDA; Bridgewater, N.J.)
Defenders: Anna Bialczak (Maryland United FC; Lutherville, Md.), Madeline Elliston (OMA Elite Girls’ Academy; Omaha, Neb.), Megan Keeth (MVLA; Los Altos Hills, Calif.), Gabrielle Matulich (MVLA; Los Gatos, Calif.), Kaleigh Riehl (BRYC; Fairfax Station, Va.), Niki Romero (UNC; Las Vegas, Nev.)
Midfielders: Carlyn Baldwin (BRYC; Oakton, Va.), Jaye Boissiere (MVLA; Los Altos Hills, Calif.), Katie Cousins (Richmond Kickers; Lynchburg, Va.), Jordan DiBiasi (Colorado Rush; Littleton, Colo.), Annie Kingman (PSV Union FC; Woodside, Calif), Emily Ogle (Internationals SC; Strongsville, Ohio), Jessica Vigna (PDA; Farmingdale, N.J.)
Forwards: Kayla Cappuzzo (Albertson Fury; Merrick, N.Y.), Imani Dorsey (Freestate United; Elkridge, Md.), Darian Jenkins (UCLA; Riverton, Utah), Amber Munerlyn (UNC; Corona, Calif.), Rebecca Rasmussen (Georgia; Golden, Colo.)
US U-18 Schedule at La Manga:
- March 8 vs Sweden
- March 10 vs Norway
- March 12 vs France