USA’s Sanchez savors CONCACAF tests
Ashley Sanchez (left) will compete in her second CONCACAF tournament in four months, when the USA opens play against Jamaica in the CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship on March 4, 2016, in St. George's, Grenada. (Photo: Mexsport)

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – Ashley Sanchez’s emergence on the international football scene has been impressive. And she’s just getting started.

En route to capturing the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship title, the So Cal Blues standout scored three goals and notched five assists for the United States to earn a place on the tournament’s Best XI team.

The dynamic 16-year-old forward will look to put the experience gained from that competition to even better use starting on Friday, when the U.S. kicks off play in the 2016 CONCACAF Under-17 Women’s Championship (CU17W) against Jamaica at the Grenada National Stadium.

"I learned about the different styles that teams play and how competitive and how much each wants to win,” Sanchez told when asked what she took away from the five games in Honduras last December. “It's not like any regular tournament."

Although the U.S. has never lost in four CU17W editions, posting an all-time record of 18W-2D-0L, it has only qualified for two FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cups. It fell short of advancing to Costa Rica 2014 after being eliminated by Mexico in the 2013 CU17W semifinals (1-1 draw, 4-2 on penalty kicks).

Sanchez is optimistic that the Americans can earn a third CU17W crown in Grenada and return to the World Cup stage.

"I think we just need to play as a team,” she emphasized. “I think all together we can win this. We will win this if we just play as a team."

Now a veteran of the CONCACAF rigors, Sanchez enjoys the challenge of matching talents with the region’s best players and squads. Above all, she appreciates achieving success with her teammates.

"I like the fact that this is a really good tournament, but winning is going to get you to the World Cup, which is a goal for every player on this team,” Sanchez finished. “Not many of us have been able to play in qualifiers, so being that this is the first for many of the girls, it would be a great accomplishment."