U-17 WNT Kicks Off New Cycle with Trip to Italy and Slovenia for the 2nd Torneo Femminile Delle Nazioni
CHICAGO (April 7, 2017) – U.S. Soccer has announced the hiring of Jitka Klimkova as head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team and Mark Carr as head coach of the U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team.
Klimkova has been a U.S. Soccer Women’s Development Coach since January of 2015, serving as the head coach of the U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team, while Carr has been a U.S. Women’s Development Coach since November of 2014, serving as head coach of the U.S. Under-15 Girls’ National Team. Both have also worked as assistant coaches for other age groups. In its continuing efforts to be a world leader for the women’s game, U.S. Soccer has had full-time head coaches for the U-20 and U-17 Women’s National Teams since 2013.
U.S. Soccer will also announce its 2017 coaches for the U-14, U-15 and U-16 Girls’ National Teams and U-18 and U-19 Women’s National Teams in the near future.
The several years of experience with their respective age groups will serve Klimkova and Carr well as they transition to the U-20 and U-17 levels. Klimkova will oversee all aspects of the U-20 WNT program and will be charged with preparing the team for CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World cup that will be held in France. Her first U-20 WNT camp will start on April 8 in San Diego.
Carr will oversee all aspects of the U-17 WNT program and will be charged with preparing his squad for CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup that will be held in Uruguay. He will coach the U-17 WNT for the first time at the Delle Nazioni Tournament in Gradisca, Italy in late April.
The coaches will also manage the integration and programming of the National Teams just below their age groups – for Klimkova the U-18 and U-19 WNTs and for Carr the U-15 and U-16 GNTs -- to maximize the evaluation and movement of players between the age groups for training camps and matches during the World Cup cycle.
“Over the last few years we’ve hired a cadre of Development Coaches as part of a plan to expose them to the international game and develop them into future candidates for our World Cup age-groups,” said Women’s Youth National Teams Director April Heinrichs. “In hiring Mark and Jitka as our U-17 and U-20 coaches respectively, we’re putting two of our best and most experienced coaches in front of our best players. They have age-appropriate head coaching experience on the international level, are familiar with our player pools, methods of coaching, style of play and philosophy. Mark and Jitka will start with their respective teams in their upcoming camps without skipping a beat.”
Klimkova, who also speaks Czech, German and Russian, has more than 20 years of coaching and playing experience at the national team, professional and youth club levels in the USA, New Zealand, Australia and her native Czech Republic.
Klimkova, 42, came to U.S. Soccer from the New Zealand Football Federation, where she was head coach of the New Zealand U-17 Women’s National Team, coaching the team at the 2014 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Costa Rica, and an assistant coach for the Ferns U-20 Women’s National Team over 2013 and 2014. She was also the assistant coach for the senior New Zealand Women’s National Team in 2014.
“I love working for U.S. Soccer and continuing to embrace the many challenges of being successful at the international level,” said Klimkova. “I have always dreamed big, had ambitious goals and worked hard to achieve those goals, which are qualities we will ask for from our players. My main motivation is to work with extremely talented players, coaches, support staff to help make all of us better. I look forward to continuing to create a positive and successful culture within our Youth National Teams.”
In 2016, Carr coached the U.S. team that participated for the first time in the CONCACAF U-15 Girls’ Championship (the second time the tournament has been held). Carr led the USA to wins in all seven games by shutout and defeated Costa Rica 5-0 in the semifinal and Canada 2-0 in the championship game to take the regional title. The core of that team will be transitioning to the U-17 level this year, making Carr familiar with the player pool.
Carr, 38, came to U.S. Soccer after spending three years (2012-2014) as the Girls’ Premier League Director and Technical Director for the Lonestar Soccer Club in Austin, Texas. Prior to joining U.S. Soccer full-time, Carr has been active in the Women’s National Team programs, serving as a scout, helping run U.S. Soccer Training Centers in Texas and assisting with the U-14 Girls’ National Team camps.
“Working day in and day out with U.S. Soccer and learning from some incredible people around me while coaching the U-15 Girls’ National Team has prepared me to take on this fantastic opportunity,” Carr said. “Moving up with this group is a natural progression that I feel very comfortable with and I’m extremely honored and excited to continue the development journey with this special group of players. My focus will be to help each player grow and develop and continue through our pathway, while at the same time, embracing the opportunity to qualify for the 2018 U-17 Women’s World Cup and then doing our best to win it.”Read more
CHICAGO (Dec. 13, 2016) – Tobin Heath and Ashley Sanchez have been voted the 2016 U.S. Soccer Female and Young Female Player of the Year, respectively.
Heath, who has long been a fan favorite for her entertaining style of play and dynamic work with the ball, wins the award for the first time in her ninth year with the U.S. Women’s National Team. She won after earning 40 percent of the vote. Crystal Dunn came in second with 34 percent.
“It’s obviously an honor to win an award like this, especially when you look at the list of amazing players who have won it before,” Heath said. “This year was a difficult one for our team, but overall we played some great soccer so it’s humbling to be recognized individually. I’m just proud to be in the company of all the great players that were nominated and all of the players that played for the USA this year. I couldn’t have accomplished anything without the support of my teammates and my coaches, and while it was a fun year for me personally, I’m excited not only about my own future, but also the future of this team as I know we have a lot more room to grow and many more goals to achieve.”
This year saw the 28-year-old Basking Ridge, N.J. native elevate her game to an even higher level. Heath played in 22 games, scoring six goals while recording eight assists tying for second-most on the team with Dunn. Both numbers were career bests for Heath, who this year competed in her fifth world championship for the USA. She played 1,747 minutes in 2016, good for second-best on the team.
Heath was one of the USA’s best players at the 2016 Olympic Games where she recorded two assists. In her fourth season playing for the NWSL’s Portland Thorns FC, Heath finished the year with 10 assists – a new league record – in only 14 appearances for the club – while helping PTFC to the regular season title. She was named to the NWSL Best XI.
Sanchez, who hails from Monrovia, Calif., played in two Women’s World Cup tournaments in 2016. She captained the USA at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan, and was the youngest player and the only one born in 1999 at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea. She wins the award with 47 percent of the vote. Midfielder Andi Sullivan came in second with 27 percent.
Playing forward and attacking midfielder, the 17-year-old Sanchez became the first U.S. Youth Women’s National Team player to score in both a FIFA U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cup in the same year and was one of the USA’s top players at both World Cups.
At the U-17 Women’s World Cup, Sanchez scored three goals, one against Paraguay and two against eventual runner-up Japan. She played every minute of all three games in Jordan and finished her U-17 career averaging a goal a game with 21 goals in 21 caps. Sanchez started all six games at the U-20 Women’s World Cup and played all but two minutes, scoring one goal and dishing two assists. She finished this U-20 cycle with five goals in 16 U-20 international matches.
Sanchez won the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament at the 2016 CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship in Grenada, starting all five games while scoring a team-leading five goals as she helped the USA to the regional title and a berth at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. She was also named to the 2016 CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship Best XI.
In 2016, Sanchez also trained briefly with the full U.S. Women’s National Team during an April camp in Orlando, Fla. She has verbally committed to attend UCLA next fall.
“It was a memorable year for sure, and even though we fell short at both World Cups, I know the experiences that me and my teammates had will last a lifetime,” Sanchez said. “It’s a huge honor to win this award and I’m really appreciative of everyone who voted for me. I also want to thank all of my teammates and coaches on the U-17s and the U-20s. They are great players and great friends and hopefully a bunch of us will reach our goals of playing for the full team one day.”
A new voting process was put into place in 2014. Votes are collected from respective National Team coaches, National Team players who have earned a cap in 2016, American soccer league (MLS, NASL and NWSL) head coaches, select media members, former players and administrators.
Players cannot win the Young Male or Young Female award more than once.
The U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year has been awarded since 1985, when midfielder Sharon Remer earned the first Female Athlete of the Year honor. The Young Female Player of the Year honor was first awarded in 1998, with Cindy Parlow earning the honor.