USA’s Pinto has powerful presence

Brianna Pinto (pictured) has played in every minute of the USA's four matches at the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship in St. George's, Grenada. (Photo: Mexsport)

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – The United States could have beaten Canada 1-0, 10-0 or 100-0 in their 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship semifinal on Friday and even if Brianna Pinto still didn’t score, she would have been the TSG player of the match.

The midfielder was that good and that impactful for the Americans, who ultimately won 5-0 to clinch a place in the final and earn a 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup berth.

Pinto didn’t get on the scoresheet or make a pass that led directly to a goal. Basically, she did everything else in a performance well beyond her years, dominating each section of real estate that she covered in tandem with the equally excellent Jaelin Howell.

”She was awesome,” U.S. head coach BJ Snow said after the match, when asked about Pinto’s play. “For our girls to feed off of the energy that both of them – Jaelin and Pinto – produced from a defending standpoint and then the calmness to be able to transition to the attacking side of the ball was monumental for our girls to feed off of.

“She (Pinto) has that ability. She’s a phenomenal player.”

That talent has been put on full display in Grenada as the U.S. enters Sunday’s final against Mexico with a perfect 4W-0D-0L record. Pinto is one of only three Americans to play every minute of the competition and she was delighted with her team’s success.

“We checked two of our goals off,” Pinto told “Our first goal was to win our group. Our second goal was to qualify (for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup). Now we’re on to our third goal, we want to win the whole thing.”

In a very real way, Pinto is the conductor of the U.S. attack, winning the ball and displaying impeccable decision-making skills by igniting the offense with what always seems like the perfect first pass. It’s a role that she unquestionably relishes.

“I like to lead the team and make sure that everyone’s organized and keep everyone accountable,” commented the 15-year-old, who has been in the U.S. youth program for four years. “I hold myself to a high standard, so I want to make sure that I’m giving my teammates 100% effort.”

With the CU17W title at stake, Pinto has no plans on taking it easy. In fact, she thinks that the U.S. can even take it to another level against Mexico.

“You’ll definitely see more organization,” Pinto finished. “We’re going to come sharper and we’re going to come with our best performance of the tournament.”

A scary thought for the Mexicans and future World Cup opponents.