The United States Women's U-20 National Team kicks off its 2016 U-20 World Cup qualifying tonight in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Unlike the senior men's team, the U-20s play in the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship in order to qualify. The champion, runner-up and third place finisher all will punch their tickets to Papua, New Guinea in 2016.
The team kicks off its tournament against Mexico at 8:30 p.m. ET at the Olimpico Metropolitano, the site of all the group stage matches. Along with Mexico, the U.S. will face Panama (Dec. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET) and Haiti (Dec. 8, 8:30 pm. ET) in group B play.
Qualifying for Papua, New Guinea 2016 should not be an issue for the Yanks. The team is the three-time defending champion of this tournament and defeated Mexico in the 2014 final. While this cycle brings nearly an entirely new set of players, this year's U-20s have put together an impressive record. The team is 9-0-2 in 2015, with one of the losses coming against Bayern Munich back in January. Overall, the U.S. has four continental titles to its name and has never finished worse than second.
The team will also be looking to fare better than the 2014 World Cup team did in Canada. The U.S. was defeated by Korea D.P.R. on penalties in the quarterfinal round in the tournament that saw Germany take the title. The 2014 team was also runner-up in its group to the Germans.
The team is relatively young, with only eight out of the 20 players plying their trade in college soccer, according to ussoccer.com. The rest play for various youth teams, but one of the youngsters to keep an eye out for will be Mallory Pugh. The 17-year-old Real Colorado player has five goals for the U.S. this year and she has plenty of offensive talent around her as well. The team has scored 25 goals in 2015. Pugh also played for the U.S at the U-20 World Cup in 2014 and made four appearances.
Goalkeepers: Rose Chandler (Penn State), Brooke Heinsohn (New England FC)
Defenders: Tierna Davidson (De Anza Force), Sabrina Flores (Notre Dame), Emily Fox (FC Virginia), Shannon Horgan (Clemson), Natalie Jacobs (Notre Dame), Taylor Otto (CASL), Kiara Pickett (Eagles)
Midfielders: Marley Canales (San Diego Surf), Savannah Demelo (Beach FC), Jordan Harr (Dallas Sting), Mikaela Harvey (Texas A&M), Kelcie Hedge (Washington), Parker Roberts (Kansas) Ella Stevens (GSA)
Forwards: Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado), Zoe Redei (Eclipse Soccer Club), Ashley Sanchez (SoCal Blues), Jessie Scarpa (UNC)
Dec. 4: USA v. Mexico, 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 2
Dec. 6: USA v. Panama, 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Soccer Plus
Dec. 8: USA v. Haiti, 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Soccer Plus