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More than a decade ago, Jessica McDonald couldn’t have imagined there would be a day to honor her in her hometown Phoenix.

Back then, in July 2006, she was a sought after soccer player without the grades to get into her preferred choice North Carolina. Her post Glendale Cactus High School journey would have to begin at junior college, specifically Phoenix College, where she excelled in not just soccer but basketball and track for two years.

“She was not on my recruiting board at all,” former Phoenix College soccer coach Morgan Lee said during a ceremony at the school to retire McDonald’s jersey and celebrate “Jessica McDonald Day” in Phoenix. “She was in a completely different stratosphere.”

Lee met with McDonald’s grandmother, who largely raised Jess, to get her approval and sign a letter of intent. “She was coming in here with very mixed feelings,” he said.

“Phoenix College wasn’t her first choice, her second choice, her third choice. Frankly, it wasn’t on her radar.” Lee said. “But she knew what her mission was going to be regardless of where she was. She understood what needed to be done to get back to her first choice.”

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The 2006 National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year made it to North Carolina, where she played on NCAA championship teams in 2008 and 2009. A nomadic, injury-marred professional career would follow.

She became a single mother in 2012, worked other jobs to supplement her modest soccer income and fought off the urge to retire from the sport.

Finally in 2016 came her chance to play with the U.S. national team, leading to her selection to the 2019 World Cup, in which the U.S. went 7-0 en route to a second consecutive World Cup title.

McDonald only played in one World Cup match but afterwards helped the North Carolina Courage repeat as NWSL champion, scoring a goal in the title game.

“There are no words (for 2019),” McDonald said. “How I try to explain it to the youth is you ask your parents for something you really, really want and to get it, that bubble of excitement and happiness kind of hits you. For me, I times that feeling by a thousand. Obviously, it opened up many doors for me so I’m grateful and blessed just to be here.”

The Phoenix College ceremony isn’t the only Arizona honor for McDonald. She and World Cup teammate Julie Ertz of Mesa will be among five female grand marshals for the Desert Financial Fiesta Bowl Parade, representing a theme of women in sports, on Dec. 28.

Then, in January, McDonald, 31, and Ertz, 27, will be among those vying for a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team, provided the Americans qualify for Tokyo through a CONCACAF tournament Jan. 28-Feb. 9 in Texas and Carson, Calif.

U.S. women’s soccer forward Jessica McDonald was honored Tuesday at Phoenix College, where she played three sports in 2006-07. She was on the U.S. 2019 World Cup gold medal-winning team.
U.S. women’s soccer forward Jessica McDonald was honored Tuesday at Phoenix College, where she played three sports in 2006-07. She was on the U.S. 2019 World Cup gold medal-winning team. (Photo: Phoenix College)

“It’s nerve wracking because less numbers on the (Olympic) roster,” McDonald said. “It’s going to be true battle that’s for sure,” particularly playing for new U.S. national team coach Vlatko Andonovski. “I don’t think it means as much to me as the World Cup because the World Cup is the biggest stage in the world. Olympics would be cherry on top of course, but I would be very content with winning the World Cup.”

For McDonald, her success should be shared with her home state because of those here who were central to development including those at Sereno Soccer Club, now re-branded as Real Salt Lake Arizona.

“This is such a huge part of my journey,” McDonald said of her days with the Phoenix College Bears. “This is kind of where everything started when you become an adult, you’re 18, out of the house trying to figure your character. Phoenix College helped shape me into the human being and athlete I am.

“It’s a very rare state where you see athletes coming out of junior college and Glendale as well and become as successful as my journey has been.”

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Nov. 10, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team closed out an historic 2019 that saw the team win its fourth World Cup title with a 6-0 win vs. Costa Rica in front of 12,914 fans at TIAA Bank Field.

Lynn Williams had a pair of second half strikes while Carli Lloyd, Morgan Brian and Christen Press also scored. The final tally came via Costa Rica own goal.

The USA heads into 2020 on a winning note after compiling a 20-1-3 record this year, marking 12th time in 35 years of WNT play the team has won 20 or more games in a calendar year.

Like in many matches this year, the USA once again wasted no time taking control of the match. For the second straight game captain Carli Lloyd scored an early goal, this time in just the fourth minute. With 16 goals in 2019, Lloyd finishes the year as the WNT’s top scorer, marking the third time she has led the team in scoring during a calendar year. She tied as the leading scorer once.

Brian, who was playing in the city where she spent almost her entire youth soccer career, then doubled the USA’s advantage in the 10th minute and the USA cruised into the break sporting the 2-0 lead.

U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski, who handed debuts to defenders Midge Purce and Alana Cook when he included them in the USA’s starting XI, made a trio of subs at half time, bringing on goalkeeper Adriana Franch for Ashlyn Harris, Andi Sullivan for veteran defender Becky Sauerbrunn and Williams for Lloyd.

Within five minutes of the restart, Williams had made an impact by scoring the USA’s third and Press added a tally for a second consecutive game with a solo effort in 56th minute to put the U.S. up 4-0. Williams would add her second and the WNT’s fifth in the 68th and nearly had a hat trick but her attempt was cleared off the line by Costa Rica goalkeeper Noelia Bermúdez.

Costa Rica was not without its opportunities throughout the game, twice hitting the cross bar and at times possessing the ball well, but ultimately Harris and Franch record just one save a piece while in net for the U.S.

The USA did not let up as the curtain began to come down on the match and their triumphant year, continuing to attack until the final whistle. The pressure paid off in the 86th minute when a Purce cross was deflected for an own goal by Costa Rica defender Stephanie Blanco to provide the final 6-0 margin of victory.

Next on the Schedule: The WNT’s first games of the team’s 2020 schedule will be at the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, which will begin on Jan. 28 with group play in Houston and Edinburgh, Texas before culminating with the semifinals and title game in Carson, California. The USA will hold its traditional training camp in January to begin the year and prepare for Olympic qualifying, which will send two teams to the 2020 Olympic Women’s Football tournament in Japan next summer.
Social: Twitter, Instagram (@USWNT) and Facebook

USA – Carli Lloyd (Rose Lavelle), 4th minute: Rose Lavelle evaded a defender near midfield and from the center circle sent a sumptuous pass scything through the heart of the retreating Costa Rica defense that deflected into the stride of Lloyd who was making a run around the left flank. The USA’s leading scorer lifted a one-time shot over the charging goalkeeper into the upper right corner to give Lavelle’s amazing pass a worthy finish. USA 1, CRC 0 [WATCH]

USA – Morgan Brian (Rose Lavelle), 10th minute: Julie Ertz won the ball in midfield and pushed it forward to Lavelle, who danced past a few defenders before slipping the ball into the path of the overlapping Brian. She took one touch into the left side of the box before picking out the lower right corner with a textbook left-footed finish. USA 2, CRC 0 [WATCH]

USA – Lynn Williams (Tobin Heath), 50th minute: The USA countered Costa Rica with Heath collecting the ball in midfield and sending a perfectly weighted ball behind the visitors’ defense for Williams to run down. With a burst of pace, she zipped by one defender to reach the ball before cutting into the middle of the box, drawing out the goalkeeper and then snapping a low drive into the lower left corner. USA 3, CRC 0 [WATCH]

USA – Christen Press, 56th minute: Margaret Purce beat two defenders in the right side of the box and got to the end line to hit a low cross into the heart of the box that was cleared directly to a lurking Press. Having missed an a closer-range opportunity seconds earlier, Press left no doubt by faking to her right before cutting to her left past a defender and drilling a left-footed shot into left corner of the goal. USA 4, CRC 0 [WATCH]

USA – Lynn Williams (Jessica McDonald), 68th minute: Emily Sonnett lofted a cross from the left touchline toward the back right post when McDonald outjumped her defender to nod the ball down to the feel of Williams in the middle of the box. The speedy forward crushed a first-time shot into the underside of the crossbar and it bounced down into the right side of the goal. USA 5, CRC 0 [WATCH]

USA – Own Goal (Stephanie Blanco), 86th minute: As she had throughout the night from her right back position, Margaret Purce made an overlapping run, received the ball and beat a defender in the Costa Rica box. After driving to the end line, her cross attempt was deflected by Costa Rice defender Stephanie Blanco and arched high through the goal box before falling perfectly into the left side netting. USA 6, CRC 0 FINAL

With the win, the USWNT is now 15-0-0 all-time vs. Costa Rica, which the USA will play in the final match of Olympic qualifying group play on Feb. 3, 2020 in Houston.

With her goal, Carli Lloyd now has 121 in her WNT career and finishes 2019 with 16 total, the most on the team. It is third most goals she has scored in a calendar year and the third time she has let the team outright scoring in a calendar year. She had 18 goals in 2015 and 17 in 2016 to lead the team.

Morgan Brian scored her second goal of 2019 and eighth of her career.

Lynn Williams scored her fifth and sixth career goals. They were her first tallies for the USA since she scored against Korea Republic on Oct. 22, 2017. Tonight marked her first multi-goal game for the USA.

Christen Press’ goal is her fifth of 2019 and 51st of her WNT career.

Today, two players will earn their first cap as starters: Margaret Purce and Alana Cook.

The last time this happened was Oct. 29, 2016 against Switzerland in Utah when five players earned their first caps: Casey Short, Andi Sullivan, Ashley Hatch and Abby Dahlkemper. Two of them started: Short and Sullivan.

The last time before that was 1/16/08 against Canada in China when Ali Krieger & Becky Sauerbrunn earned their first caps.

In making her debut in the starting XI for the USA, Purce became the first player to have played collegiately at Harvard to earn a WNT cap.


Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Costa Rica

Date: Nov. 10, 2019

Competition: International Friendly

Venue: TIAA Bank Field; Jacksonville, Fla.

Attendance: 12,914

Kickoff: 8:08 p.m. ET

Weather: 60 degrees; clear

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F

USA 2 4 6

CRC 0 0 0

USA – Carli Lloyd (Rose Lavelle) 4th minute

USA – Morgan Brian (Rose Lavelle) 10

USA – Lynn Williams (Tobin Heath) 50

USA – Christen Press 56

USA – Lynn Williams (Jessica McDonald) 68

USA – Stephanie Blanco (Own Goal) 86


USA: 18-Ashlyn Harris (21-Adrianna Franch, 46); 30-Margaret Purce, 28-Alana Cook, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (25-Andi Sullivan, 46), 14-Emily Sonnett; 8-Julie Ertz, 16-Rose Lavelle, 6-Morgan Brian (20-Allie Long, 63); 17-Tobin Heath (2-Mallory Pugh, 63), 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.) (27-Lynn Williams, 46), 23-Christen Press (22-Jessica McDonald, 63)

Substitutes not used: 26-Casey Short

Head coach: Vlatko Andonovski

CRC: 1-Noelia Bermudez; 2-Gabriela Guillen, 6-Carol Sanchez, 15-Stephanie Blanco, 12-Lixy Rodriguez; 7-Melissa Herrera, 16-Katherine Alvarado, 10-Shirley Cruz (capt.), 14- Priscilla Chinchilla; 9-Gloriana Villalobos (17-Maria Paula Salas, 66), 11-Raquel Rodriguez (4-Mariana Benavides, 86)

Substitutes not used: 3-Maria Paula Elizondo, 5-Maria Jose Morales, 13-Dinnia Diaz, 18-Priscilla Tapia, 19-Valery Sandoval, 20-Viviana Chinchilla

Not eligible: 8-Daniela Cruz

Head coach: Amelia Valverde

Stats Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 17 / 6
Shots on Goal: 7 / 2
Saves: 2 / 0
Corner Kicks: 12 / 1
Fouls: 5 / 7
Offside: 6 / 0

Misconduct Summary:



Referee: Karen Abt (USA)

Assistant Referee 1: Brooke Mayo (USA)

Assistant Referee 2: Deleana Quan (USA)

4th Official: Katja Koroleva (USA)

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Good morning! I put too much water in my oatmeal. Let’s talk about soccer.

But first: the District Ultras are raising money for Maryland’s Special Olympics program by participating in the Polar Bear Plunge on January 25. If you can, donate to the cause right here!

D.C. United re-signings and rumors: Filibuster! | Black and Red United
Our latest episode covers D.C. United finalizing Bill Hamid’s transfer back to the club, Frederic Brillant’s new deal, and eating horrible pizza.

“Soccer In The City” aims to tell a new story of the American game |
Amazon Prime has a new documentary with a ton of connections to the region (Hamid, Briana Scurry, local coaching legend Lincoln Phillips, DC Scores, and even some support from the District’s government).

USWNT, Mount Notre Dame soccer star Rose Lavelle giving back to Cincinnati, Mason Dec. 21 | Cincinnati Enquirer
Not that too many people reading this are going to be in Cincinnati, but if you are, next week you can go meet Rose Lavelle, who is doing a toy donation drive/meet-and-greet.

Rose Lavelle and Andi Sullivan host soccer clinic at Greater Binghamton Sports Complex | BU Pipe Dream
Lavelle and Washington Spirit captain Andi Sullivan just held a soccer camp in what is apparently the largest “air-supported dome structure” in the country.

Utah Royals re-sign Jonsdottir, Lytle, Barnhart; waive Farquharson | RSL Soapbox
Kind of an odd one here, as Utah Royals FC have both picked up and released former Spirit midfielder Cali Farquharson in the space of about a month.

Restructured competition format for 2020 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup provides opportunity for more “David vs. Goliath” matchups in 107th edition of U.S. Soccer’s National Championship |
Some major and needed changes to the Open Cup here. Last year, MLS teams all came in at the same time, giving us a ton of MLS vs. MLS pairings that were a lot less fun than having some potential big upsets. This year, some MLS clubs will enter in the 3rd round, and some (including, by virtue of being one of the four best non-CCL-qualifying American teams in the East, United) will be waiting for them in the round of 32.

The Open Cup will also start much, much earlier, with the first round coming in late March. That might raise some real issues for teams in the NPSL and USL League Two, both of which feature many college players:

By NCAA rules, college soccer players cannot be released to other clubs until May 1 (unless it’s during a school vacation)

The first round of #USOC2020 being March 24 puts those players participation in serious jeopardy. We’ll have more on this developing story tomorrow.

— (@usopencup) December 12, 2019
Speaking of MLS, apparently the new Charlotte team has picked a truly terrible name from the pile of terrible names they restricted themselves to:

As you may have seen, an LLC operated by David Tepper submitted trademarks for eight potential Charlotte MLS club names last week (see attached image). Industry sources have told @frntofficesport that Charlotte Town FC is expected to be the choice for its name.

— Ian Thomas (@byIanThomas) December 13, 2019
Don’t be like Charlotte. Have fun this weekend!

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The MLS Hot Stove is starting to heat up as teams try to fill and improve their rosters. Liverpool keep their place atop the league, Vivianne Miedema simply refuses to stop scoring goals, and Mexico unveils a new jersey. Weston McKennie’s going to be out for a bit, and Julie Ertz is the US Soccer Female Player of the Year.

The Seattle Sounders ranked 3rd behind Atlanta United and Tigres for attendance among all teams in professional leagues in US and Canada, and Liga MX. Taking Attendance 12/8/2019: This One Goes To 112 – blog

The organizations unveiled a completely made-over gym at Valley View Early Learning Center. Seattle Sounders FC, RAVE Foundation & MLS WORKS unveil 2019 MLS Cup Legacy Project at Valley View Early Learning Center | Seattle Sounders FC

No club could match the Seattle Sounders’ combination of consistency and excellence, argues Bobby Warshaw in ranking them his MLS club of the decade. MLS best clubs of the decade: No. 1, Seattle Sounders |

The swing from a possible $6.5 million contract to a TAM one is quite the shift. BREAKING: Toronto FC have reportedly re-signed captain Michael Bradley to TAM contract – Waking The Red

LA Galaxy safe-standing section is Victoria Block – LAG Confidential
It’s pretty nice.

Another South American starlet may be on the way to MLS. This time it’s…another young Paraguayan attacking midfielder, 19 year-old Ivan Franco. Highly touted Paraguayan attacking midfielder bound for MLS? |

There are worse positions to stockpile talent, but picking up a second presumably DP striker on the heels of also grabbing Khiry Shelton does seem like potential over-kill. Report: Sporting Kansas City make bid for Red Star Belgrade striker |

Houston don’t have a goalkeeper, so they’re trying to sign one. They seem to think they’ve found their man in a Czech ‘keeper playing in Scotland. Report: Houston Dynamo in pursuit of St. Mirren goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky |

Getting to know SKC’s new star with some of the folks who know him best. Rigo Ayala from Chivas Del Norte joins the folks of the Blue Testament to answer their questions. Is Alan Pulido Really a Striker for Sporting KC? – The Blue Testament

Carlo Ancelotti isn’t doing anything right now, so he might as well come coach in MLS. I personally think it would be funny to see it happen, so I hope that it does. Seltzer: Three good destinations in MLS for Carlo Ancelotti |

A club record transfer fee is a club record transfer fee, but the money the Quakes shelled out to sign Espinoza on a permanent deal is a long way from what SKC paid for Pulido. Transfermarkt has the number at $2.3 million. What the Cristian Espinoza, Sacha Kljestan deals mean for San Jose Earthquakes, LA Galaxy | Tom Bogert |

“Which players will be bought and sold in January” is a remarkably broad question, and one that will certainly shape what the beginning of the season looks like at the very least. Wiebe: Five unanswered questions this MLS offseason |

It looks like LAFC have swooped up another promising young player in Uruguayan central midfielder Francisco Ginella. He’s reportedly moving from Montevideo Wanderers after LAFC paid $2.5 million for 75% of his rights. Gran paso | Urugol

Charlotte has a billionaire owner in David Tepper, so they shouldn’t be reliant on public money. They’re still apparently getting it, though, to the possible tune of $110 million. Here’s how other cities handled MLS public funding | Charlotte Observer

USL League 2 is losing a team, but the professional soccer landscape in Canada appears to be growing as Victoria Highlanders FC leave for the newly formed Pacific Coast Soccer League. Highlanders League Update 2020, 2021 and beyond – Victoria Highlanders

I don’t know that they necessarily needed the rebrand, but it’s nice to see a team do it well for a change. Battery Unveil New Branding, New Logo

Look, this is terrible, and we definitely shouldn’t laugh about it, but I can’t help but imagine the coach who punched the referee yelling “Yoo think yuh bettah than me,” as he did it. UPSL playoff match abandoned after coach punches referee

Atlanta United today announced a multi-year contract extension with FOX Sports South and FOX Sports Southeast to remain as the club’s exclusive regional television rights holder. The networks have televised all regionally available matches since the inaugural season in 2017 and will continue to do so through 2022. Atlanta United Announces Multi-Year Contract Extension with FOX Sports South and FOX Sports Southeast | Atlanta United FC

A Whitecaps FC branded tank with the No. 9 on it has rolled into downtown Vancouver and was spotted parked outside BC Place Sunday morning. There’s a Whitecaps tank parked outside of BC Place right now | Offside

Paul Rothrock, a Sounders Academy product, scored the first goal for Georgetown to tie the game up in the first half. He and the Hoyas would go on to win their first ever national title in penalties. Georgetown outlasts Virginia in 2019 College Cup for first national championship |

Kyle Beckerman is out of contract, Tyler Miller is likely pursuing his options in Europe, and Diego Valeri’s return to Portland isn’t yet official. Five MLS players whose futures are still in limbo ahead of 2020 | Charles Boehm |

Jess Fishlock claims her rightful place in the XI. Which other ten players join her in the list of standouts over the past seven seasons? The NWSL Team of the Decade – All For XI

This was the right decision for overall on-the-field contributions. Julie Ertz is US Soccer’s female player of the year – Stars and Stripes FC

What’s that they always say about never meeting your heroes? Well, Gregg Berhalter’s team faces a tough test. USA to play Netherlands in 2020 friendly – Stars and Stripes FC

It’s hardly ideal to have a budding star potentially out or limited for 3 to 4 months. That appears to be the situation for McKennie after picking up an injury in his game this weekend. Weston McKennie carted off early in Schalke match with dislocated shoulder |

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp rejects suggestions top clubs want more Champions League games as Liverpool prepare for two games less than 24 hours apart. Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool boss rejects Champions League expansion claims – BBC Sport

It’s a beautiful image to be shaped in, frankly. Liverpool are thriving as the team becomes more and more like the manager. Jürgen Klopp Has Shaped Liverpool in His Image – The Ringer

Racism is a scourge of the world of sports, just as the rest of society, and like every other part of life it’s moved to the internet. The anonymity and ability to dish out hate without seeing the immediate impact are just part of why racism is so able to fester online. Foul play: how racism towards black footballers is moving online | Football | The Guardian.

It’s good to see Lukaku flourishing again, and all the better if he and Martinez can help Inter push Juventus for the title. Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez give Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan a superstar strike partnership | StatsBomb

Kim Little put away a penalty and Miedema scored what I only assume were here 100th and 101st goals of the season, but an injury cast a shadow over Arsena’s win against Everton. Vivianne Miedema keeps Arsenal clear at summit but Mead injury mars win | Football | The Guardian

Mexico’s newest jersey is pretty sharp. I personally really like the different colored bands and stripes on each side, and the fact that the pattern apparently continues on the back. Adidas Mexico 2020 Away Kit Revealed – Footy Headlines

Good thing they’ll be out from under the ban in January. It took a while, but the burden of Chelsea’s transfer ban is finally here – We Ain’t Got No History

We’re happy too, Trent. Honestly, who wouldn’t be? Trent Alexander-Arnold Is Happy To Play For Klopp For Years To Come – The Liverpool Offside

What’s on TV today?
11:30 AM: Boston United Vs. Rochdale (FA Cup) – ESPN+

11:45 AM: Crystal Palace Vs. Brighton & Hove Albion (Premier League) – NBCSN

11:45 AM: Cagliari Vs. Lazio (Serie A) – ESPN+

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Washington State’s soccer team didn’t stop making history after a 2-1 loss to North Carolina on Friday in the College Cup at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California.

On Monday, senior Morgan Weaver and junior Makamae Gomera-Stevens were called up to the U.S. women’s national team and will join the four-time World Cup champions for Identification Camp in Bradenton, Florida, later this month.

Mykiaa Minniss, another member of the Washington State team fresh off the deepest postseason run in school history, has been called up to play for the U-20 U.S. national team to play in the 2019 Nike International Friendlies.

Weaver and Gomera-Stevens, forwards who combined to score 20 goals for the Cougars this season, were called up as fill-ins after two other players, forward Madison Haley and defender Naomi Girma, were injured while playing for Stanford last weekend in the College Cup. The Cardinal beat North Carolina in penalty kicks to win the national championship on Sunday.

The WSU duo will be the first Cougars to play for the U.S. senior team, which will be comprised of 24 other players from the NWSL and various college programs. The team includes two players from the UNC team that edged WSU last Friday in San Jose.

U.S. soccer had a booth in the press box at Avaya Stadium, presumably to scout potential national team members for the Identification Camp. The national team roster won’t include any players from the 2019 World Cup squad, but the camp will be led by new U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski.

Minniss, a defender for the Cougars, will take part in the U-20 friendly tournament that will take place at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. U.S. will play U-20 squads from Brazil and France on Dec. 11 and 13, the matches serving as preparation for February’s CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship.

It won’t be the first time wearing a U.S. jersey for Weaver, who spent two years in the U-23 system and played in the 2018 Thorns Spring Invitational. Weaver was just named a third-team All-American, becoming the second player in school history to receive All-America honors, and scored 15 times for the Cougars as a senior, third-most in school single-season history.

Gomera-Stevens, a Hawaii native, was clutch for WSU throughout the postseason and scored five game-winning goals for the Cougars as a junior. She scored decisive goals against Memphis and West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament and had an assist against Virginia during the biggest win in program history. She finished the season with five goals and five assists.

Like Gomera-Stevens, Minniss will aso be making her debut with the U.S. after the young defender helped the Cougars earn 10 shutouts this fall. With Minniss anchoring the back line, WSU had three shutouts in the postseason and the sophomore scored her first and only goal of the postseason on a corner kick in the 96th minute to help the Cougars beat South Carolina.

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Though Sky Blue FC enjoyed its first sellout crowd in four years, it was the Washington Spirit that walked away winners courtesy of an Ashley Hatch goal in the second half.

Hatch won the ball near the penalty area, and outpaced a Sky Blue defender before finishing near the penalty spot in the 54th minute. The goal, which was unassisted, is Hatch’s fourth of the season. It sealed the 1-0 victory for the visiting Spirit on Wednesday.

“I feel like you kind of see moments, changing moments and I think Hatch is like a great example of that,” Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle said post-match. “I think she did a really good job of occupying the centre backs and giving the midfield and other players room to run and then try to fall in behind and and I think she had her moment and she capitalized and it was awesome.”

The Spirit had been pressing for a goal since the early stages of the match. Continuing what has been an impressive rebound after an eighth place finish in 2018, the Spirit sent a flurry of chances toward the Sky Blue goal throughout the entirety of the match. The team was forcing Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan into making save after save, consistently getting close to goal. Notably, a Mallory Pugh solo effort in the 34th minute ended up just wide of the net.

Though the visitors dominated, Sky Blue managed a few opportunities of their own in the first half. Carli Lloyd, in her first match back since helping the U.S. win the Women’s World Cup, sent a ball towards Raquel Rodriguez out wide in the 14th minute that ended with the Costa Rican’s shot flying over the bar.

The rhythm of the first half was maintained in the second, with the Spirit eventually finding their breakthrough. It disrupted what was a positive start to the second half for Sky Blue goalkeeper coach Hugo Macedo.

“Second half, we’re looking to start right away from the get go,” he said. “We couldn’t find our chances and an unfortunate ball that was played behind our back line.”

As has been the case on multiple occasions this season, Sky Blue seemed to respond strongly to going down. Managing meaningful possession and chances outside of counterattacks, which was mostly the case in the first half, the team did threaten the goal occasionally.

The hosts’ efforts, though, were not enough. Though they limited the Spirit to six shots compared to the first half’s 12, they managed just the one in the second 45 minutes of play.

“I think we need to work on possessing the ball a little bit more,” Sky Blue defender Estelle Johnson said, “and just making big plays in big moments.”

Off the field, Sky Blue enjoyed a successful match, hosting its first sellout match since 2015. The official announced attendance of 5,003 beat the season’s previous high of 1,842 at Yurcak Field significantly.

The result leaves Sky Blue bottom of the NWSL table with only eight points. The Spirit, meanwhile, climb into third, a point behind second place North Caroline Courage and a point ahead of fourth spot’s Chicago Red Stars.

Sky Blue next face the Houston Dash on Sunday.

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Before she graduated from high school, Jaelin Howell was training with the United State’s Senior Women’s National Soccer Team.

Howell got an unlikely call-up to the senior team camp in April of 2017, just under eight months before she turned 18.

While she didn’t make an appearance during this three-match stint with the national team, it was a testament to how Howell is viewed with regard to her place in the future of the USWNT.

It also gave her an unbelievable experience which has served as further motivation for the Lone Tree, Colorado native, now a sophomore on Florida State’s roster.

“It was amazing. Playing with all these players you grew up watching, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, I was a fan of these players and I looked up to them and then standing next to them on the field, it’s very surreal,” Howell told the Democrat.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here, I’m 17 years old.’ But again, it was an amazing opportunity. It helped me grow so much, helped me know what I need to work on.”

Howell — who opens her sophomore season with No. 1 FSU Aug. 22 against TCU — is widely regarded as a major contributor of the future for the USWNT. ESPNW’s Graham Hays included her in his list of 10 players who could break onto the U.S. roster for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

In her first season with the Seminoles, Howell lived up to the hype. She appeared in 26 of the team’s 27 games and started 24. The only match she missed was due to the fact that she was on the U.S. roster for the U-20 World Cup.

Even though she was a true freshman, Howell’s impact on FSU bringing home the second NCAA Championship in program history was among the largest on the roster.

“I think last year as we went on our run through the NCAA Tournament, we had a lot of great performances and a lot of consistency among many of the players, but I’m not sure that I could really single out anyone having a bigger impact than Jaelin,” FSU head coach Mark Krikorian told the Democrat.

“She was doing a lot of the dirty work and a lot of the work that’s a little bit thankless at times and she made her teammates better. I think that that’s probably the best compliment I can give to a player is make the players around you better.

“She’s got a bright future, right mentality, right idea about development and I think that she has a great deal of potential.”

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Howell’s stat-line in her first season at FSU won’t blow anyone away. She scored one goal and had four assists in 26 matches.

The rest of what the standout holding midfielder does is what earned her the College Cup Most Outstanding Player on Defense Award and an All-ACC second-team nod.

“She’s just a fantastic ball winner…Jaelin has come in and she’s so mobile and she’s so physical and she’s willing to put the effort in every time to help her teammates and protect the backline or try and get forward on a set piece to create or score a goal and defending different situations,” Krikorian said.

“Don’t get me wrong, she’s much more than just a ball-winner. She’s got very good instincts and with the ball, she’s a very good linking player as well.”

Howell credits her brief time with the USWNT for helping her learn how important the little things are.

“I think the biggest takeaway I took from that camp, I’ve always said this, is just how well they all do the little things. They always preach like the little things add up,” Howell said.

“I think taking the example that they provided me with the recovery and the way to eat, all the little habits are truly what makes them separated from everybody else. I think going in there and seeing that really helped me elevate my game, combining all the little stuff to really make a huge difference.”

FSU midfielder Jaelin Howell trained with the U.S. Women’s National Team for the first time at 17 years old.
FSU midfielder Jaelin Howell trained with the U.S. Women’s National Team for the first time at 17 years old. (Photo: Colin Abbey/FSU Sports Information)

When Howell does make her USWNT debut in the near future, she won’t be the first current Seminole to make an international appearance for her country.

Four current FSU players have each made senior team appearances for their country. Senior Deyna Castellanos has made 13 appearances for Venezuela, junior Gloriana Villalobos has made 12 for Costa Rica, junior Gabby Carle has made 12 caps for Canada and incoming true freshman Heather Payne has already made seven appearances for her native Ireland.

But none of these countries have nearly as significant a pull in the women’s soccer game as the U.S. Canada is the only one of the four that qualified for this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

The USWNT, meanwhile, is the worldwide trailblazer of the sport, winning each of the last two World Cups and four of the eight since the event began in 1991.

When Howell does make her U.S. senior team debut, she’ll become just the fourth Seminole to do so, joining India Trotter, Casey Short and Tori Huster.

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If she debuts while still at FSU — an extremely high possibility — she’ll be just the second in program history along with Trotter.

Short was something of a surprising omission when she was left off the 2019 World Cup roster by head coach Jill Ellis.

Due to this omission, no Seminole has ever represented the U.S. in the Women’s World Cup or Olympics.

Howell could change that as soon as next summer at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, although she’ll have some odds to overcome if that is to be the case.

“One of the things that we know is the U.S. team had a magnificent World Cup and I’m sure that most of those players are interested in continuing, maybe finishing after the Olympics. We also know that the Olympic roster is smaller than the World Cup roster,” Krikorian explained.

“So the likelihood of going in and breaking into the team, it’s possible and certainly Jaelin has a chance, but I think that Jaelin would be better served, much like all of these young players, concentrating on what you’re doing, having the best performance that you can and the national team, they’ll be watching.”

Howell has embraced this advice. She’s not concerned with the when, but rather with being prepared.

“Already being with them the one time was crazy enough and I was so young, but I feel like I’ve grown so much as a player and as a person since then,” Howell said.

“I feel that if that call up does happen, then I’ll be prepared and ready, especially with the great coaching I’ve had here at Florida State and all they provided for me.”

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ROCKVILLE – The 2020 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season will be the Washington Spirit’s last season in the Maryland SoccerPlex as the club announced a new stadium arrangement with Major League Soccer side D.C. United.

The club announced on Nov. 12 that they would play four of their 12 home games next year at the Boyds venue that has been their home stadium its entire eight-year existence. The remaining eight games will be split between Audi Field, the area’s new soccer-specific stadium in Washington, D.C., and Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia.

August 24, 2019: Washington Spirit players wave to thank fans who attended the NWSL match against Orlando Pride on Aug. 24 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chris Thompkins/Montgomery County Sentinel
Following the 2020 season, all the games will be moved to the Audi Field and Segra Field, with the latter location becoming the new home base for the team. Segra opened on Aug. 9, is currently the home of Loudoun United, D.C.’s third division team, and seats 5,000 fans.

“I want to reiterate my gratitude to the Maryland SoccerPlex and D.C. United for being amazing partners,” Spirit owner Steve Baldwin said. “Both organizations have wonderful people that have given me valuable advice during this first year of my stewardship of the club.”

The move comes after the Spirit hosted two games in Audi Field during the 2018 season and averaged 18,644 spectators in the 20,000-seat venue.

Rumors began to swirl before the end of the season that the club was considering to play more games at Audi Field. After one of the games in Washington, D.C., Regin FC and United States National Team midfielder Megan Rapinoe said that the club outgrew the SoccerPlex and needed to move forward with the move.

“I hope they get to play here all the time. I think they deserve that,” said Rapinoe. “The Plex was good when it was good, and we are ready to move on now.”

However, many season ticket holders wanted the club to stay in the SoccerPlex. They voiced their displeasure by chanting “Stay in the Plex” during a postgame event after the regular-season home finale on Sept. 28.

The Spirit will offer Montgomery County fans round trip transportation from Germantown to Audi Field and Segra Field as part of the 2020 season arrangement. The club will also start a program to cover the cost for tolls for those traveling to Virginia who are not from Loudoun County.

While the majority of the team rest after a long season, one striker continues to be in the spotlight.

Spirit striker Rose Lavelle was nominated for the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year Award on Nov. 26. She becomes the second Washington player to be nominated for the award since Crystal Dunn’s selection in 2016.

August 10, 2019: Washington Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle (10) passes the ball during NWSL action between Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit in Boyds. Photo by Chris Thompkins/The Montgomery Sentinel.
During her appearances on the U.S. National Team in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Lavelle scored three goals, including the game-sealing goal to clinch the title for the Stars and Stripes. She was named the tournament’s third-best player and awarded the Bronze Ball. Lavelle was also named to the FIFPro Women’s Best XI as one of the best 11 players of the year.

Lavelle returned after the World Cup and brought a spark for the Spirit’s late postseason push. She finally scored her first goal for the club in their 2-1 victory over eventual league champions North Carolina FC on Sept. 28.

Lavelle was also on the shortlist for the 2019 France Football’s Ballon d’Or Feminine award for the world’s best player of the year. Rapinoe, Lavelle’s U.S. National Team teammate, was announced the winner on Dec. 2.

U.S. Soccer will announce the winner of their player of the year award during the second week of December.

As the club prepares for their offseason plans, two players were recently chosen to be a part of the first Identification Camp for the U.S. National Team. Midfielder Jordan DiBiasi and striker Ashley Hatch were selected to be a part of a 24-player roster helmed by new Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski that will take place on Dec. 9-14 in Bradenton, Fla.

Both players are coming off strong seasons for the Spirit. Hatch led the team with seven goals and will be making her first national team appearance since 2018. This would be DiBiasi’s first call up to the senior national team, but she has experience playing in their youth squads. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NWSL Draft started 20 games for the Spirit and scored four goals.

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As he begins efforts to expand the United States women’s national team player pool, new head coach Vlatko Andonovski has named 24 players for an identification camp, 17 of whom are uncapped.

The camp, taking place from Dec. 9-14 in Bradenton, Fla., is comprised entirely of players who are not regulars to the national team as mainstays enjoy contractually obligated time off. There will not be a match during this camp, meaning Andonovski and his staff will have only training sessions to evaluate these players.

Andonovski has invited mostly players from the National Women’s Soccer League, rewarding several for a successful 2019 season. The 2019 Rookie of the Year, Bethany Balcer of Reign FC, made the cut, as did another nominee for that award, the Washington Spirit’s Jordan DiBiasi. Three members of the Chicago Red Stars team that reached the NWSL Championship match — Sarah Gorden, Danielle Colaprico, and Vanessa DiBernardo — also made the roster.

A number of college players will also participate in the camp. The University of North Carolina’s Emily Fox, Stanford’s Sophia Smith, and UCLA’s Ashley Sanchez made the roster after previous call-ups under Andonovski’s predecessor Jill Ellis. Additionally, one player from outside of the U.S. made the cut, with Rosengård’s Hailie Mace rejoining the team after making the World Cup qualifying roster in October of 2018.

The training camp is a final opportunity for many to impress Andonovski ahead of the Olympic qualifying tournament that begins in January.

Here is the full roster:

GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Casey Murphy (Reign FC)

DEFENDERS (9): Maycee Bell (UNC), Malia Berkely (Florida State), Imani Dorsey (Sky Blue FC), Emily Fox (UNC), Naomi Girma (Stanford), Sarah Gorden (Chicago Red Stars), Hailie Mace (Rosengård FC, SWE), Kiara Pickett (Stanford), Margaret Purce (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars), Vanessa DiBernardo (Chicago Red Stars), Jordan DiBiasi (Washington Spirit), Sarah Killion (Sky Blue FC), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash), Brianna Pinto (UNC), Ashley Sanchez (UCLA)

FORWARDS (6): Bethany Balcer (Reign FC), Madison Haley (Stanford), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Paige Monaghan (Sky Blue FC), Sophia Smith (Stanford), Ally Watt (Texas A&M)

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CHICAGO (Nov. 27, 2019) – U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Vlatko Andonovski has named a 24-player roster for an Identification Camp that will take place from Dec. 9-14 in Bradenton, Florida and will complete the year of activity for the USWNT.

Andonovski’s second training camp roster – he officially came on board on Oct. 28 – will not include any players from the USA’s 2019 World Cup Team, all of whom are on a well-deserved end-of-year break. This event is being staged to evaluate younger players from the college game and those who have performed well in the National Women’s Soccer League or in pro leagues abroad, with the goal of deepening the player pool and positioning players for possible future call-ups to events in 2020.

GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 3/0), Casey Murphy (Reign FC; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Maycee Bell (UNC; 0/0), Malia Berkely (Florida State; 0/0), Imani Dorsey (Sky Blue FC; 0/0), Emily Fox (UNC; 3/0), Naomi Girma (Stanford; 0/0), Sarah Gorden (Chicago Red Stars; 0/0), Hailie Mace (Rosengård FC, SWE; 3/0), Kiara Pickett (Stanford; 0/0), Margaret Purce (Portland Thorns FC; 1/0)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars; 2/0), Vanessa DiBernardo (Chicago Red Stars; 0/0), Jordan DiBiasi (Washington Spirit; 0/0), Sarah Killion (Sky Blue FC; 0/0), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 15/1), Brianna Pinto (UNC; 0/0), Ashley Sanchez (UCLA; 0/0)

FORWARDS (6): Bethany Balcer (Reign FC; 0/0), Madison Haley (Stanford; 0/0), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Paige Monaghan (Sky Blue FC; 0;0), Sophia Smith (Stanford; 0/0), Ally Watt (Texas A&M; 0/0)

“One of our main goals heading into 2020 is to expand the player pool, but with Olympic Qualifying coming up soon, we don’t have much time to do that, so this camp is a great opportunity for the players and the coaches,” said Andonovski. “For the players, it’s a chance to try to earn invitations to future camps so we can evaluate them against the veteran players, and for the coaches, it’s a very valuable few days to try to add depth to positions where we may need it.”

The roster features 17 uncapped players, six with three caps or less and Houston Dash midfielder Kristie Mewis, older sister of 2019 World Cup champion midfielder Samantha Mewis, who earned 15 caps over 2013 and 2014.

“It’s important to reward players who have done well for their college teams and for their professional teams in the NWSL or overseas, and it’s also important for talented young players to get a taste of the National Team environment as breaking into the full team can often be a marathon and not a sprint,” said Andonovski. “Many of these players have done very well for our Youth National Teams and in college, but the international game at the senior level is a huge jump for them and we need to find out which of these players can make that transition.”

Due to the short duration of the camp, which will consist of five days of training, players traveling from overseas would not have sufficient recovery time between travel and the start of camp. As a result, only currently domestic-based players were selected.

The roster includes 14 professional players and 10 collegiate players, including Brianna Pinto and Maycee Bell from UNC and Naomi Girma and Sophia Smith from Stanford, all of whom were born in 2000 and are age-eligible for the next FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. The USWNT has yet to cap a player born after the historic 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Girma was voted the 2019 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. The 5-foot-11 Bell was named the ACC Freshman of the Year. Pinto and Smith trained with the senior National Team in 2017 when they were 16. These are their first WNT call-ups since then. Pinto was the youngest player in the modern era to make a tournament roster for the senior Women’s National Team at the 2017 SheBelieves Cup, but did not play.

Pinto, who was named All-ACC First Team, has started all 24 games for the Tar Heels so far this season and is second on the team in scoring with 10 goals and six assists.

Two players come into National Team camp after recovering from major injuries in midfielder Kristie Mewis, who rebounded from an ACL tear to have a fine 2019 NWSL season with the Houston Dash, and Smith, who broke her leg at the end of her freshman year in 2018 but has 14 goals and eight assists this season.

Smith scored in a U.S. Youth National Team-record nine consecutive international games for the U.S. U-20 WNT in 2018 when she tallied 15 total goals. She has 23 career international goals in 27 U-20 caps.

Ten players are earning their first call-up to the senior National Team. Defenders Bell, Girma, Sarah Gorden, Malia Berkely and Kiara “Kiki” Pickett, midfielder Jordan DiBiasi, and forwards Bethany Balcer, Madison Haley, Paige Monaghan and Ally Watt.

Players with prior training camp experience with the USWNT but who have yet to be capped are goalkeeper Casey Murphy, defender Imani Dorsey (who was in for the November friendlies this year), midfielders Sarah Killion, Vanessa DiBernardo, Ashley Sanchez and Pinto, and forward Smith.

Defender Margaret “Midge” Purce was also with the team for the November friendlies and earned her first cap, starting against Costa Rica on Nov. 10.

Defender Emily Fox earned her first two WNT caps at the end of 2018, playing against Portugal in Lisbon and Scotland in Glasgow, and then her third against France in Le Havre in January of 2019. She has yet to earn a cap inside the USA. Fox was an All-ACC First-Team selection this season for the Tar Heels.

DiBernardo and Killion were key parts of the midfield for the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan. That team also featured 2019 World Cup champions Samantha Mewis, Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz and Morgan Brian.

DiBernardo, who scored in the quarterfinal victory against North Korea in that tournament, is the daughter of Angelo DiBernardo, who won the 1978 Hermann Trophy for Indiana and played for the Men’s National Team between 1979-1985. The USWNT has never capped a player whose father played for the USMNT.

DiBernardo, midfielder Danielle Colaprico and Gorden all played major roles in helping the Chicago Red Stars finish second in the NWSL this past season and advance to its first title game in club history.

Gorden, 27, who has a five-year old son, is the only player on this training camp roster who is receiving her first National Team call-up at any age level.

Almost the entire training camp roster has experience with the USA’s Youth National Teams and 22 of the 24 players have played with the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team, 15 of them over the past two years. That total goes up to 17 over the past three years.

Thirteen players on the roster have played for the USA in a FIFA Youth Women’s World Cup: goalkeepers Jane Campbell (2012 U-17, 2014 U-20) and Casey Murphy (2016 U-20), defenders Emily Fox (2016 U-20, 2018 U-20), Girma (2016 U-17, 2018 U-20) and Pickett (2016 U-17, 2018 U-20), midfielders DiBernardo (2012 U-20), Pinto (2016 U-17, 2018 U-20), Killion (2012 U-20), Sanchez (2016 U-17, 2016 U-20, 2018 U-20) and Kristie Mewis (2008 U-17, 2010 U-20) and forwards Purce (2014 U-20), Smith (2016 U-17, 2018 U-20) and Watt (2016 U-20).

Balcer, the 2019 NWSL Rookie of the Year for Reign FC, is the first player from an NAIA College to earn a WNT call-up. She attended Spring Arbor University in her native Michigan. She was the only Reign FC player to appear in all 24 of the club’s regular season matches and scored a team-high six goals with two assists.

Of the 10 collegiate players named to the roster, nine are still alive in the NCAA Tournament, which will play its quarterfinals this coming Friday and Saturday.

Three players on the roster were named U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year in Mewis (2008), Sanchez (2016) and Smith (2017).

Haley is the daughter of five-time Super Bowl champion defensive lineman Charles Haley. Haley is third in scoring this year at Stanford – behind Catarina Macario and Smith – with 11 goals and 10 assists.

Pickett, an All-Pac 12 First-Team selection this year, has started all 22 games for the Cardinal so far this season.

Murphy started her pro career in France with Montpellier – where she was in the nets for 35 matches over 15 months – but returned to the USA this past season with Reign FC, for whom she played every minute of 19 matches this season.

Campbell, who has three WNT caps, played every minute of all 24 matches in goal this past NWSL season for the Houston Dash. She is the youngest goalkeeper to be called into the senior National Team. She trained with the U.S. team at the age of 17 in January of 2013.

As a redshirt sophomore during the 2018 college season, Berkely was a key player on Florida State’s 2018 NCAA Championship team. She was the only player to start all 27 games and has started every game this season as well when she was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year as a redshirt junior.

Sanchez trained with the full U.S. Women’s National Team during a camp in Orlando, Fla. in April of 2016 when she was 17, but this is her first senior WNT call-up since then. She has come up through the U.S. Youth WNT system, having played for the U.S. U-14, U-15, U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels. She has seven goals and 14 assists for the Bruins this season.

In 2016, Sanchez played in both the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, where she scored three goals and one assist as the team captain, and in the U-20 Women’s World Cup, where she scored one goal with two assists, becoming the first American female player to play in both the U-17 and U-20 World Cups in the same cycle.

Defender Hailie Mace’s three caps came during the fall of 2018 during the qualifying tournament for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She has been playing with Rosengård FC in the Damallsvenskan, Sweden’s top division, that finished play at the end of October. She had four goals and three assists in 16 matches this season in helping her club win the Swedish title and qualify for the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Ashley Hatch’s first cap came against Switzerland in 2016 in Sandy, Utah, when she was still a student-athlete at BYU. Her second cap came in 2018 against Mexico in Jacksonville, Fla. She scored seven times for the Washington Spirit this past NWSL season to lead the team.

Kristie Mewis played in the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand, where she won the Bronze Ball as the third best player in the tournament, and in the 2010 U-20 World Cup in Germany.

The Mewis siblings are one of just two pairs of sisters to have played together on the USWNT and the only sisters to have both played in a FIFA Youth World Cup together.

Monaghan, the first player from Butler University to earn a WNT call-up, scored twice for Sky Blue FC this past season. DiBiasi scored four times for the Washington Spirit.

Forward Ally Watt, who scored 16 goals with seven assists during her senior season for Texas A&M this fall, scored twice for the USA off the bench at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.