USA in search of an elusive trophy
U-17 women's world title only one missing from USA's trophy cabinet
FIFA.com speaks with head coach Mark Carr ahead of Uruguay 2018
"We're going to compete to win the World Cup"
USA have been at the forefront of women’s football for decades, winning the record amount of FIFA Women’s World Cup™ titles (three) and the joint-most FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups (three, tied with Germany). But there’s one area the Stars and Stripes have yet to conquer: the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Morgan Brian and Co came close to winning the inaugural edition of the competition at New Zealand 2008, finishing runners-up after losing to Korea DPR 2-1 in extra time in the decider.
However, since then, USA teams have not advanced past the group stage and they failed to qualify for the 2010 and 2014 editions of the tournament.
At the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018, they will be looking to put an end to that record and become the second nation after Japan to win all age-level Women’s World Cups.
“The pressure is on us to play our way,” said USA head coach Mark Carr in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “We’re going to compete to win the World Cup. I know there’s going to be other amazing teams that are going to be there. The pressure’s on us to perform. It’s performance first and I feel we’re in a good place. We’re still learning lessons. There’s always the expectation in the USA to compete and win championships but that’s only going to come through good team performances and hard work.”
The signs are positive for USA going into Uruguay 2018. In 2017 and 2018 they played 31 matches and lost just twice, drawing six games and winning the rest.
“I think what you’re going to see is a pretty humble group,” said Carr. “They’re youth players, so they’re still learning. Even though we’ve had a lot of success in the past and at the CONCACAF level, they’re always looking to improve. We’re not looking in the rearview mirror, it’s always the next thing. For us, it’s about being totally focused on Uruguay and right now it’s just about Cameroon.”
As Carr alludes to, USA’s Uruguay 2018 campaign starts off against Cameroon before facing tournament holders Korea DPR and European runners-up Germany in Group C.
USA's attacking forecast: Sunshine
USA have scored 110 goals with the current cycle of players and one who has led the way in providing goals is Sunshine Fontes, who recently became the country’s all-time U-17 women’s leading scorer.
“Sunshine’s from Hawaii, so she’s very laid back,” said Carr. “She’s a special young woman, who’s very humble, hardworking and is always putting the team first. She’s willing to give everything to the team. In terms of individual quality she sees things and sees pictures in the game that I think sometimes other players don’t see. She brings the game to life when she gets the ball at her feet. I’m sure the world can expect to see moments like that at the World Cup.”
So what can fans expect from USA at Uruguay 2018, as they look to add an elusive title to their trophy cabinet? “We want to be a team that’s aggressive in attacking and that creates chances and scores goals, but on the flip side, we want to be a team that’s organised, defends together, presses and wants to win the ball high up the field. We want to be together in defending to make it hard for other teams to score on us. I think that’s what you’re going to see from our team.”
USA's Uruguay 2018 match schedule
14 November: v Cameroon, Estadio Alberto Suppici, Colonia Del Sacramento 17 November: v Korea DPR, Estadio Alberto Suppici, Colonia Del Sacramento 21 November: v Germany, Estadio Charrua, Montevideo
Footage by U.S. Soccer taken in April 2018 prior to the team's qualifying tournament