In order to qualify for the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay, the United States embarked on a two-year cycle.
Part of that entails national team camps, with the most recent taking place in Portland, Oregon, from Aug. 20 to 27.
Menlo School junior Sophie Jones, a 5-foot-5 attacking midfielder on the San Jose Earthquakes Girls Development Academy, was among the 24 players selected to attend.
“U.S. soccer definitely has a distinct way in how they play and a culture that they want to create,” Jones said.
The 16-year-old is no stranger to the coaching staff, considering this was her sixth invite to such camps, while the initial foray with the women’s national team came two years ago.
“It’s definitely nice when you come back to see familiar faces,” Jones said. “And it’s really cool to have friends all over the country.”
Except, there was a twist this time around.
Turns out that England dispatched its U-17 national team for two international friendly matches.
“Everyone is amazing, so the speed of play and the atmosphere was really cool,” said Jones, who subbed into the second half of the 6-1 victory at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton on Aug. 23. “I had a really fun time.”
Andres Deza, who in April was hired by the Earthquakes as director of the club’s newly formed Girls Development Academy, which kicks off its first season this fall, is quite familiar with Jones.
“Sophie is a very creative player,” said Deza, who worked with her directly for a couple of years at their previous club, the De Anza Force. “She does things that are different and I’m pretty happy that U.S. soccer is able to recognize that. She’s been at a few camps and she’s been invited back. And I hope that she’ll make the final roster for the World Cup. She’s going to be in a lot of competition to…