The United States and Haiti have arrived for the CONCACAF Under 20 Women’s Championship which kicks off with a double header at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on Thursday.
The US team arrived in Port of Spain yesterday and will be based at the Hilton Trinidad alongside fellow Group B teams Mexico, Nicaragua and Jamaica. The Canada, Jamaica and Mexican teams are scheduled to arrive on Monday. Haiti were the first to arrive, coming in on Thursday before their opening clash with Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday at 6:30pm.
US head coach Jitka Klimkova selected 16 collegians and four youth club players — defender Naomi Girma (California Thorns FC), midfielder Jaelin Howell (Real Colorado), midfielder Brianna Pinto (NTH Tophat) and forward Sophia Smith (Real Colorado), all high school seniors — made the final cut. The 17-year-old Smith, recently named 2017 US Soccer Young Female Player of the Year, is the youngest player on the squad. Smith, Pinto and Grima were born in 2000, making them eligible for the 2020 U-20 World Cup as well.
The US are the 2015 CONCACAF Under 20 Women’s champions and their current side includes defenders Tierna Davidson and Kiara Pickett, midfielder Savannah DeMelo and forward Ashley Sanchez who were part of the USA’s 2015 team. Midfielder Savannah DeMelo DeMelo and UCL forward Sanchez played in the 2016 World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
Costa Rica, TT’s opponents on January 20, completed two wins against Jamaica in San Jose last week, winning 1-0 and 5-1.
TT head coach Jamaal Shabazz named a 22-player squad on Thursday to contest the upcoming championship. The TT team continued its preparations with a session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo yesterday and will also train at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva today. They move into camp at the Radisson Hotel on Tuesday.
Team member Natisha John, speaking on Thursday, said she was quietly confident that the TT team could complete a triumphant run in the upcoming competition. “I am privileged and ecstatic to be a part of this team and representing Trinidad and Tobago. We are going to make this a milestone in Trinidad and Tobago’s history, because personally over the years, I have played for the national youth teams and I believe that this group of players has the most potential to make a statement in this competition,” John said.