In 2014, Mallory Pugh was the youngest player on the U.S. Under-20 Women’s World Cup Team, but still started all four games in Canada before the USA was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Korea DPR. Now, a bit older, more experienced and wiser, Pugh leads the USA into Qualifying for the 2016 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup as the most experienced player on the roster. ussoccer.com sat down with Pugh in San Pedro Sula, Honduras where the USA is preparing for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship.
ussoccer.com: Now that you’ve arrived in Honduras, what’s the mood of the group and how excited are you all to get this tournament underway?
Mallory Pugh: “I think everyone is just super excited. Only a few people get this opportunity and I think what we need to do is just make the most of it and get the job done, and while we’re doing it just have fun.”
ussoccer.com: You were with the U-20 WNT in the last edition of this tournament as the youngest player; now you’re back with experience and ready for another go. How is your role different this time, and what do you hope to bring to the table?
MP: “I feel like my role is to make sure the team chemistry is on point. Obviously that will translate onto the field and if we’re all comfortable together I think great things can happen through that. I really try to just be positive with everyone. I think it’s really important for everyone to bond. We’ve had a lot of different ages coming through and I think the chemistry of everyone throughout the camps is really important. That’s something I take into my hands. If someone’s not being included in something I try to grab them under my wing and help them. We’re a young team but I think most of us know each other from past camps and even over the past four days all of us have gotten along really well and I just feel like this chemistry is going very well.”
ussoccer.com: What sort of challenges do you expect from the CONCACAF opponents in this tournament?
MP: “I really think that every team in this tournament is going to be a challenge for us and each team has their own style of play. So our biggest thing will be knowing how they play beforehand and knowing wat they’re going to do is really important so we’re prepared for it.”
ussoccer.com: You were a part of the group that came down to Honduras in September. How does that experience help prepare you for this tournament?
MP: “It was a lot of fun. Being in Honduras and in this environment definitely gives us an advantage going into this tournament. We got a chance to get used to the hotel, the Wi-Fi, the food and just get that experience that prepared us for these coming weeks.”
Pugh races down the sideline in the U-20 WNT's group match against Brazil at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada. The U.S. won the match 1-0.
ussoccer.com: How tight of a group is this team?
MP: “We’re a team that has a lot of fun and that’s one of my favorite things about coming into camp. You get to spend time with people you don’t see every day and we call each other best friends; it’s something that not a lot of people get to do. The laughter and the silliness and everything in between is just great.”
ussoccer.com: You had the opportunity to train with the senior Women’s National Team this year. How was that experience for you?
MP: “I think when I played for the senior team it was just their communication on the field that stood out to me a lot and I think translating that onto this team is a really important thing because it helps me and it helped them and everyone knew what they were doing. It’s just a huge experience.”
ussoccer.com: What is it like to put on the crest and know you’re representing the whole country when you play?
MP: “Putting on the crest is just a huge honor. Not everybody gets to do it. We’ve all worked really hard for this moment. For some of us this is our first main world event, but that just makes it even more inspiring to be in this position. We’re just working really hard and we know that work has been really important leading up to this tournament. Every time you step on the field wearing the crest it’s just such an honor and it really makes you want to give it your all. You’re playing for you country, your family and you’re playing for past players that have been in your position as well as younger players that you hope to inspire.”
CHICAGO (Nov. 25, 2015) – U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Michelle French has named the 20-player roster for the 2015 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship, to be held from Dec. 3-13 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
The roster is made up of eight collegiate players and 12 high-school aged players who are still playing youth club soccer. The roster ranges over four birth years from 1996-1999 with the youngest player being 16-year-old defender Kiara Pickett. Players born on or after January 1, 1996, are eligible for the 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cup.
"While finalizing the roster for this qualifying competition posed different challenges due to the college season, we are very happy with the players we have named to the roster. We have a great mix of talent, sophistication, and athleticism at every position,” said U.S. head coach Michelle French. “The group is comprised of players with experience in CONCACAF competitions, as well as quite a few who will be playing matches of this magnitude for the first time. As a result, we are looking forward to watching the team grow during the tournament.”
Roster by Position: Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Rose Chandler (Penn State; Atlanta, Ga.), Brooke Heinsohn (New England FC; Norfolk, Mass.)
DEFENDERS (7): Tierna Davidson (De Anza Force; Menlo Park; Calif.), Sabrina Flores (Notre Dame; Livingston, N.J.), Emily Fox (FC Virginia; Ashburn, Va.), Shannon Horgan (Clemson; Long Beach, N.Y.), Natalie Jacobs (Notre Dame; Coto de Caza; Calif.), Taylor Otto (CASL; Apex, N.C.), Kiara Pickett (Eagles; Santa Barbara, Calif.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Marley Canales (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Savannah DeMelo (Beach FC; Bellflower, Calif.), Jordan Harr (Dallas Sting; Sachse, Texas), Mikaela Harvey (Texas A&M; Liberty Hill, Texas), Kelcie Hedge (Washington; Post Falls, Idaho), Parker Roberts (Kansas; Leawood, Kan.), Ella Stevens (GSA; Grayson, Ga.)
FORWARDS (4): Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zoe Redei (Eclipse Soccer Club; Highland Park, Ill.), Ashley Sanchez (SoCal Blues; Monrovia, Calif.), Jessie Scarpa (UNC; Lakeland, Fla.)
The 2015 CONCACAF Women's U-20 Championship features eight nations divided into two groups of four teams. The top two finishers in each group will qualify for the tournament semifinals, with the winners of those games along with the winner of the third-place match earning berths to the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
The competition will be played at Francisco Morazan Stadium and Olympic Stadium. The USA will play all its Group B games at Olympic Stadium and opens the tournament on Friday, Dec. 4, against Mexico (7:30 local/8:30 ET on FOX Sports 2), faces Panama on Sunday, Dec. 6 (7:30 local/8:30 ET on FOX Soccer Plus) and finishes group play against Haiti on Tuesday, Dec. 8 (7:30 local/8:30 ET on FOX Soccer Plus).
"We had the opportunity to see a number of players over the past few months, and those players certainly did a fantastic job of making the final roster decisions difficult, which is what we want to see,” said French, who saw 57 players in game action this year with the U-20s and many more during college matches this fall. “Our goal was to find the right mix of players available for selection that complemented each other on and off the field. I’m confident we have done that.”
2015 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship Group B Schedule - USA
Date Match Kickoff (CT) Venue TV
Dec. 4 USA vs. Mexico 7:30 p.m. Olympic Stadium FOX Sports 2
Dec. 6 USA vs. Panama 7:30 p.m. Olympic Stadium FOX Soccer Plus
Dec. 8 USA vs. Haiti 7:30 p.m. Olympic Stadium FOX Soccer Plus
- French, a member of the USA’s silver medal winning team at the 2000 Olympics in Australia, became head coach of this age group in February of 2013 and coached the USA to the championship of the last CONCACAF U-20 qualifying tournament in the Cayman Islands that earned the USA a trip to the last U-20 World Cup in Canada.
- Goalkeeper Rose Chandler and forward Mallory Pugh are the only two players on the roster who were on the U.S. team at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
- Pugh was a starter in all four games the USA played in Canada in 2014 and is the only player on the roster with World Cup experience.
- Six-foot-one goalkeeper Brooke Heinsohn is the granddaughter of Boston Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn.
- Chandler, who is currently the back-up ‘keeper at Penn State, where she has played in five matches off the bench this year, is one of two players on the roster whose college team is still in contention in the NCAA Playoffs.
- The other is Texas A&M forward Michaela Harvey, who will join the U.S. team in Honduras upon completion of her college season.
- Of the eight college players on the roster, four are freshmen (Chandler is a red-shirt freshman) and four have played two years of college soccer in Harvey, Clemson sophomore defender Shannon Horgan, Notre Dame sophomore defender Sabrina Flores and UNC sophomore forward Jessie Scarpa.
- The freshmen are: Chandler, Natalie Jacobs (Notre Dame), Parker Roberts (Kansas) and Kelcie Hedge (Washington).
- Six players on the roster were a part of the U.S. U-17 WNT that failed to qualify for the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup after falling to Mexico in penalty kicks during the semifinal at the qualifying tournament in Jamaica despite dominating the match. Those players are midfielder Marley Canales (San Diego Surf), Hedge, Jacobs, defender Taylor Otto (CASL), Pugh (Real Colorado) and forward Zoe Redei (Eclipse).
- Two players -- Chandler and Horgan -- have yet to earn a cap at the U-20 level.
- Pugh is the leading U-20 cap-winner and scorer on the roster with 14 and six respectively. Savannah DeMelo (Beach FC) and Canales have seven U-20 caps each.
- Two players are age-eligible for the U.S. U-17 Women’s National Tea in defender Kiara Pickett (5 caps for the U-17s this year) and forward Ashley Sanchez (six caps and 11 goals for the U-17s this year).
- The 20 players on the roster come from 20 different youth clubs in 13 different states. There are five players from Southern California on the roster and one from Northern California, two from Georgia and two from Texas.
- In addition to the three U.S. group matches, the FOX family of networks will air Mexico vs. Haiti on Dec. 6 (6 p.m. ET on FOX Soccer Plus) and Mexico vs. Panama on Dec. 8 (6 p.m. ET on FOX Soccer Plus).
- Both semifinals (Dec. 11 at 6 and 9 p.m. ET), the third-place match (Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. ET) and the championship match (Dec. 13 at 9 p.m. ET) will also air on FOX Sports 2.
- Host Honduras, Canada, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica are in Group A.