U.S. U-20 WNT Heads to High Altitude for Training in Park City, Utah in Preparation for CONCACAF Qualifying
U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Tony DiCicco will bring 24 players to Park City, Utah, for a training camp from June 8-13, which will serve as the final preparation before the squad enters CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
June 5, 2008
Park City, which sits at almost 7,000 feet, will help acclimate the players for the CONCACAF competition being held at Estadio Cuauhtemoc in Puebla, Mexico, which is located at just over 7,000 feet. The eight-team 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship will feature eight teams broken into two groups of four teams each. The USA will face Trinidad & Tobago (June 18), Cuba (June 20) and Mexico (June 22) in Group A play. Group B features Canada, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Jamaica. The all-important semifinals will be held on June 25 with the third-place match championship game taking place on June 28. Estadio Cuauhtemoc holds over 45,000 fans.
The top three finishers in the qualifying tournament will earn berths to the U-20 Women’s World Cup being held Nov. 19-Dec. 7 in Chile.
“Dealing with altitude is no easy task and requires approximately three weeks of training at altitude to become totally acclimated, which, of course, we don’t have,” said DiCicco. “But for psychological as well as physiological reasons, we are going to Park City to train at almost 7000 feet. From zero to 5000 feet there is not much difference, but every 1000 feet above 5000 feet, the maximum oxygen intake is reduced by three percent, which is considerable. To train at altitude is important for us and hopefully we can go to Mexico much more confident.”
DiCicco will also use this camp to pare down his roster from 24 to the 20 who will travel to Mexico in an attempt to qualify for the fourth FIFA youth world championship at this age level. The 2002 and 2004 tournaments were held as Under-19 events before moving to Under-20 for the 2006 tournament in Russia. The four players not selected for qualifying will be alternates for the squad.
The U-20s will also be entering an exciting and challenging environment in Puebla, playing three games in the summer heat and humidity while facing the host country in the final group match in front of what will surely be a partisan home crowd. The full U.S. Women’s National Team recently played Mexico in Ciudad Juarez during Olympic qualifying and a sell-out crowd of over 22,000 turned out for the match.
DiCicco has spent the last five months looking at players as he whittled down the pool to the 24 players who will head to Park City. The roster features two members of the U.S. team that took fourth at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in midfielder Kelley O’Hara, who with two goals in the tournament was one of the USA’s top players in Russia, and forward Casey Nogueira, who was one of the youngest players on that team.
DiCicco inherited a talented player pool when he took over from former U.S. U-20 coach Jillian Ellis in January after Ellis joined the staff of U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage for the full U.S. Women’s National Team. Since then, DiCicco and his staff have identified about six to eight players who could play key roles in qualifying and hopefully the World Cup.
“We have gotten faster, better playing back-to-goal and have excellent team depth, which is one of the main strengths of this team,” said DiCicco. “We have a number of players who could be starters and I’m hoping that our depth will allow us to play well because we will have to play five games in 11 days during qualifying and hopefully win the tournament.”
Other top players for this year’s U-20 team include forward Michelle Enyeart, who trained with the full U.S. Women’s National Team earlier this year, and defensive midfielder Keelin Winters. Nikki Washington adds additional speed on the flank while relative newcomers Alex Morgan and Nikki Marshall have shown well. Youngsters Christine Nairn and Teresa Noyola, who are two of the three players born in 1990 on the roster, are also in the running for the qualifying team. The other 1990 is forward Sydney Leroux, a naturalized Canadian who actually played for Canada in the 2004 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Thailand. Midfielder Becky Edwards should also be a key player for the USA in the holding midfielder slot.
U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): Kristin Arnold (Texas A&M), Chantel Jones (Virginia), Alyssa Naeher (Penn State)
DEFENDERS (6): Kaley Fountain (Wake Forest), Lauren Fowlkes (Notre Dame), Liz Harkin (Arizona State), Brittney MacDonald (Miami), Nikki Marshall (Colorado), Elli Reed (Portland)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Becky Edwards (Florida State), Meghan Klingenberg (North Carolina), Christie Nairn (Bowie, Md.), Teresa Noyola (Palo Alto, Calif.), Ingrid Wells (Georgetown), Keelin Winters (Portland)
FORWARDS (8): Kiersten Dallstream (Washington State), Gina DiMartino (Boston College), Michelle Enyeart (Portland), Sydney Leroux (Phoenix, Ariz.), Alex Morgan (California), Casey Noguiera (UNC), Kelley O’Hara (Stanford), Nikki Washington (UNC)