CHICAGO (Dec. 13, 2016) Ashley Sanchez have been voted the 2016 U.S. Soccer Youth Female Player of the Year
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. 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.
The Young Female Player of the Year honor was first awarded in 1998, with Cindy Parlow earning the honor.