CHICAGO (June 5, 2007) -- U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team head coach Bill Irwin will bring 24 players to a training camp in Portland, Oregon, from June 6-13 in what will be the final camp before he chooses the 2007 U.S. Nordic Cup Team, which will travel to Vassa, Finland, from July 12-25 for the annual Nordic Cup tournament.
Held in Northern Europe every summer, the USA has competed in the tournament for well more than a decade, as it has become the focus of the USA’s oldest youth national team during its six-month run-up to the prestigious competition. In respond to FIFA moving oldest FIFA world championship for women from Under-19 to Under-20, this year the Nordic Cup moves from an Under-21 competition to an Under-23 tournament (it was staged as a U-20 event from 1990-1997) and Irwin will bring an 18-player roster featuring a mixture of U-21 and older players to Finland.
The USA has won eight Nordic Cup titles, including seven in a row before falling last year in the championship game to Germany. The USA won the last Nordic Cup contested in Finland in 2002, defeating Germany, 3-1 in the final.
While the Nordic Cup has long featured eight teams and three group games followed by a placement match, this year’s format calls for two group games and then a placement match, giving the USA little room for error in the first round to earn a berth to the title game, which will pit the winners of Group A, featuring England, Finland and Germany, and Group B, which will feature Norway, Sweden and the USA.
The American women open with Norway on July 18 in Närpiö, followed by the match against Sweden on July 22 in Vaasa. The placement matches are on July 24. All the matches are in and around Vassa on the west coast of Finland right on the Gulf of Bothnia.
Irwin’s Portland training camp roster features seven players who competed for the USA at the 2006 U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia, and several other players with extensive youth National Team experience, including defenders Kendall Fletcher (14 U-21 caps), Manya Maksoki (19 U-21 caps) and Rachel Buehler (14 U-21 caps), and midfielder Sarah Huffman (22 U-21 caps), all of whom played on the USA’s 2002 U-19 team that won the first FIFA youth world championship.
“This roster is close to the team we will be taking to Finland, but there are several players not in camp that are in running and several players coming to Portland trying to show they deserve a spot on the final 18-player roster,” said Irwin. “We’ve had some good preparation this year with matches in England and Germany, as well as the tournament in Alabama, and this group is highly motivated to go to Europe and win back the Nordic Cup.”
Irwin has three attacking players who showed to be among the best in the world in their age group during their FIFA world championship experience.
Midfielder Angie Woznuk was one of the stars of the U.S. team that finished third in the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand. She won the Silver Ball as the second most outstanding player and the Bronze Boot as the third leading scorer in the tournament. Forward Megan Rapinoe scored three times for the USA in Thailand and forward Danesha Adams won the Bronze Ball as the third most outstanding player at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia. All three have a smattering of caps for the full Women’s National Team.
After winning its first Nordic Cup in 1997 (over Norway in Denmark), the USA has won an amazing eight out of the last 10 Nordic Cups, and seven in a row from 1999-2005. Age eligible players for the 2007 Nordic Cup are those born on or after January 1, 1984.
2007 Nordic Cup Schedule- Finland - July 18-24, 2007
Group A: Finland, England and Germany
Group B: USA, Norway and Sweden
Wednesday, July 18
Group A: Finland vs. England at Hietalahti Stadium, Vaasa
Group B: USA vs. Norway at Närpiö
Friday, July 20
Group A: England vs. Germany at Seinäjoki
Group B: Norway vs. Sweden at Vöyri
Sunday, July 22.
Group A: Germany vs. Finland at Lapua
Group B: Sweden vs. USA at Kaarle Stadium, Vaasa
Tuesday, July 24
Fifth Place Match at Sepänkylä
Third Place Match at Kaarle Stadium, Vaasa
Championship Match at Hietalahti Stadium, Vaasa
Head Coach: Bill Irwin Portland, Ore.
Asst. Coach: Dean Duerst Middleton, Wis.
GK Coach: Everton Edwards Miami, Fla.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Kelsey Davis (Portland), Joanna Haig (Louisville), Val Henderson (UCLA)
DEFENDERS (8): Marisa Abegg (Stanford), Rachel Buehler (Stanford), Kendall Fletcher (UNC), Nikki Krzysik (Virginia), Stephanie Logterman (Texas), Manya Makoski (Arizona State), Becky Sauerbrunn (Virginia), Sarah Wagenfuhr (Florida State)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kiki Bosio (Santa Clara), Jen Buczkowski (Notre Dame), Sarah Huffman (Virginia), Kara Kabellis (Wisconsin), Ali Krieger (Penn State), Elisabeth Redmond (Duke), Lisa Sara (Portland), Angie Woznuk (Portland)
FORWARDS (5): Danesha Adams (UCLA), Kelsey Carpenter (Texas), Whitney Engen (UNC), Kerri Hanks (Notre Dame), Megan Rapinoe (Portland)