U.S. U-21 WOMEN FACE GERMANY TOMORROW; REAL TIME UPDATES ON WWW.FOTBALL.NO: The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team will face Germany in its final Group A match tomorrow with a berth in the Nordic Cup championship game on the line. The USA will advance to the title game with a win or a tie, as the Americans carry a superior goal difference into the clash with the longtime European power. Germany will advance to the final with a win. Both teams have six points, but the USA has scored seven goals in two matches and allowed none, while the Germans have scored six goals in two matches and allowed one goal. Denmark and Iceland meet in the other Group A match to see who will play in the fifth-place match and who will play for seventh. Group B is wide open as any of the four teams could finish first and earn a berth in the final. Canada looks to be the darkest of the dark horses as they play group leaders Finland and have the worst goal difference in the group at minus-2. Group leaders Finland will clinch first with a win over Canada. Norway and Sweden meet in the other Group B match and either could clinch the group with a win if Finland and Canada draw. The USA kicks off against Germany at Dokka Stadium at 4:30 p.m. local/10:30 a.m. ET. Fans can follow the final two U.S. games in real time on the official website of the Norwegian Football Federation at www.fotball.no.
RULES AND REGULATIONS: Should teams tie on points at the end of group play, following is the order of tie-breakers:
- Greater goal difference.
- Great number of goals scored.
- Results of match between the teams concerned (head-to-head).
- Penalty kicks.
If the final game ends in a draw, extra time will be played and the "golden goal" rule in effect. If no goals are scored in extra time, the match will go to penalty kicks. If any of the other placement matches end in draws, the match will go directly to penalty kicks.
The 2001 Nordic Cup is open to players born January 1, 1980, or later, with the exception of two older players, born January 1, 1977, or later, if the teams choose to exercise that option.
There are five substitutes per game allowed at the Nordic Cup, including the goalkeeper.
A player who receives two yellow card cautions during the tournament will be suspended for her team's next match.
BARNES MAKES MOST OF OPPORTUNITY: Forward Katie Barnes, a 5-6 dynamo out of Cincinnati, Ohio, had never been in a U.S. Women's National Team training camp at any age level before last March, when she was called in to play with the U-21s against the WUSA teams in San Diego. Barnes impressed head coach Jerry Smith with her explosiveness, her overall athleticism and her nose for the goal. She played well enough to earn a spot on the roster for two games against Mexico in May, scoring two goals in the first match of the tour. Barnes, who plays her college soccer at West Virginia, helped the Mountaineers to a 15-5 record and berth in the NCAA tournament last year. The only player ever from WVU to play for a U.S. National Team, Barnes started the first two matches of the Nordic Cup, but is doubtful for the Germany game after getting a hard knock on the ankle against Denmark. Barnes has been spending hours in the U.S. training room receiving therapy and may be ready for the USA's placement game on Tuesday.
U-21 SOCCER PLAYERS PREP FOR WINTER OLYMPICS: After morning training last Thursday afternoon, the U.S. team hopped on a bus and traveled 40 minutes north from its base in Gjovik to Lillehamer, Norway, site of the 1994 Winter Olympics, to do a little bobsledding. During the summer, the course that was used for the Olympic bobsled in 1994, and still hosts world-class meets in the winter, is open to the public to take a harrowing 60-second ride down the mountain on adapted bobsleds with wheels, a cage over the top and bumpers on the sides. Outfitted in safety helmets and strapped inside the sled with seat belts, the American women careened down the mountain, four players per sled, in back of professional drivers who didn't know the meaning of the word "breaks." The U.S. players experienced the unique thrill of the bobsled at 65 MPH and a force of three and a half Gs as they flew around the turns like real Olympic bobsledders. Reviews from the players were that the ride put most roller coasters to shame.
TWO MIAs NOT ENOUGH: Lost in the shuffle of the USA's convincing 4-0 win over Denmark on Friday was that the Danes fielded a starting lineup with not one, but two players named Mia -- Mia Olsen and Mia Pedersen - neither of whom scored, proving that the USA's star forward could have been named Alice Hamm, and still scored 127 international goals.
A GREAT GOALKEEPER WAS GROWN HERE: The town of Gjovik sits hard by the sprawling Mjosa Lake as lush green pastures and dense, pined-choked forests roll up from the banks of the huge waterway. The picturesque setting is home to a local legend, as Norwegian National Team goalkeeper and 2000 Olympic champion Bente Nordby grew up and learned here craft here, playing for the local women's club whose home field was Raufoss Stadium, where the U.S. beat Denmark, 4-0, on Friday. Nordby played the first part of the season for the Carolina Courage of the WUSA before being traded to the San Diego Spirit.
LANGUAGE BARRIER: Germany boasts a pair of talented forwards, including Conny Pohlers, who plays for FFC Turbine Potsdam in Berlin in the women's Bundesliga and was an alternate on Germany's 2001 European Championship team. Pohlers, who speaks some English but admittedly struggles with the language, was looking at the USA's score sheet from the Denmark match on Friday and saw that two of the U.S. scores were by "Own Goal." Pohlers was momentarily confused after not being able to find a player named "Own Goal" on the U.S. roster, before the meaning of the words were explained to her by her German teammates.
U.S. COACHES TAKE AN EXCURSION TO LILLESTROM FOR UEFA U-18 FINAL: The U.S. coaching staff traveled an hour and a half south to Lillestrom on Saturday to take in the consolation match and final of the European Under-18 Championships. Should the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team qualify for the first-ever FIFA U-19 Women's World Championships to be held in Canada in 2002, they might well face any one of the teams involved in UEFA "Final Four." Denmark beat Spain, 1-0, to take third place while Germany overpowered host Norway, 3-2, to claim its second continental title of the summer after the senior women prevailed at the European Women's Championships several weeks ago with a 1-0 "golden goal" victory over Sweden. Germany held a 2-1 lead with just seven minutes left before Norway equalized to the delight of the 1,500 partisan fans, but the Germans roared back and got a winning goal just five minutes from the end of the match.
STAT OF NOTE: Defenders Cat Reddick, Anna Kraus and Jena Kluegel, along with forward Laura Schott, are the only U.S. players to play all 180 minutes so far in the 2001 Nordic Cup.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: U.S. defender Jena Kluegel upon seeing the fair-skinned and fair-haired Icelandic National Team in the hotel lobby for the first time: "Well, they win the blonde contest."