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DiCicco Names 20-Player Roster for CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Qualifying in Puebla, Mexico

CHICAGO (June 14, 2008) – U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Tony DiCicco has named 20 players who will attempt to earn a berth to the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup through the CONCACAF qualifying tournament being held June 18-28 in Puebla, Mexico.

DiCicco named the roster after a week of training in Park City, Utah, in an attempt to acclimate the U.S. team to the altitude of almost 7,000 feet it will experience at Estadio Cuauhtemoc in Puebla, where all the matches of the qualifying tournament will be played.

The U.S. team has arrived in Mexico and opens the eight-team 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship against Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday, June 18 at 1 p.m. CT before facing Cuba on June 20 at 1 p.m. CT, and host Mexico on June 22 at 2:30 p.m. CT in Group A play. Group B features Canada, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Jamaica. The semifinals will be held on June 25 with the third-place match championship game taking place on June 28.

“We have a very talented group with us that has excellent team depth, which is important for an event with five potential games in 12 days,” said DiCicco. “There might not be a superstar at this stage, but we have great team chemistry. I have been really impressed with the leadership we have seen from the players, and the sense of mission they have demonstrated.”

The top two finishers in each group after first-round play will cross-over for the semifinals. The USA must finish in the top-three (the winners of the semifinals and the third-place match) to earn one of 16 spots in the fourth FIFA women’s youth world championship being staged from Nov. 19-Dec. 7 in four Chilean cities: Coquimbo, Santiago, Chillan and Temuco.

Eleven nations have already qualified. They are host Chile; Japan, China and North Korea from Asia; France, Germany, Norway and England from Europe; New Zealand from Oceania; and Brazil and Argentina from South America.

This will be the fourth time the USA has participated in qualifying for a FIFA U-19 or U-20 World Cup. In 2002, the U.S. team traveled to Trinidad & Tobago where it won the qualifying tournament in resounding fashion, out-scoring its opposition by a margin of 34-1. Led by current U.S. Women’s National Team players Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O’Reilly, the USA would go on to win the first-ever FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship by a 1-0 score over host Canada.

In 2004, the USA traveled to Canada for qualifying and fell in overtime in the title game to the hosts by a 2-1 score. The USA had advanced to the final by outscoring its opposition 25-1 in group play (which included a 0-0 tie with Costa Rica in the rain), and then defeated Mexico 6-0 in the semifinal to earns its berth to Thailand. The USA finished third in Thailand, falling in the semifinal to Germany before defeating Brazil in the third-place match by a 3-0 score.

In 2006, the tournament moved from the U-19 level to the U-20s and the USA traveled to Mexico for qualifying where an improvement in the level of youth women’s play in the CONCACAF region showed as the USA won its three games in group play by a combined margin of 13-1 before once again defeating Mexico for a berth to the World Cup, this time by a 3-0 score. In the championship game, the USA rallied from a deficit to defeat Canada, 3-2, as current U.S. Women’s National Team players Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Cheney scored goals.

The USA would go on to finish fourth at the 2006 U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia, falling in consecutive penalty kick shootouts in the semifinal and the third-place match.

While the USA has played Trinidad & Tobago before in CONCACAF U-19/U-20 qualifying (an 11-1 win in 2004) and has faced Mexico during the last two qualifying tournaments in the semifinal, the Americans have never played Cuba. In fact, this will be the first-ever meeting with Cuba for any the U.S. Women’s National Teams.

“We do expect this to be a difficult tournament, with many of our opponents coming off of Olympic qualifying campaigns in April,” said DiCicco. “Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba and Mexico all have many players from Olympic Qualifying who are also eligible for the Under-20 campaign. We know the task won’t be an easy one, but we’re confident in our ability.”

Of the 20 players named to the qualifying roster, none played for the USA during U-20 qualifying two years ago. Two players on the USA’s 2008 qualifying roster – midfielder Kelley O’Hara and forward Casey Nogueira – would go on to make team that played in the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia.

O’Hara is the USA’s most experienced player on the U-20 level, having earned 13 U-20 caps and scored eight international goals. Four of those caps and two of the goals came at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

Just three players on the roster are uncapped at the U-20 level, partially due to a competitive schedule leading into the qualifiers which has seen the USA go 9-3-0 with a 5-2-0 record in internationals. The USA’s only two losses came against the full women’s national teams of Canada and Russia. So far this year, the USA has defeated the U-20 sides from England, Norway and Chile while downing the full Women’s National Teams of Scotland and the Netherlands.

Forward Michelle Enyeart and O’Hara lead the USA in scoring so far this year with four goals each in all matches. Nogueira has found the net three times. Alyssa Naeher comes into the tournament as the No. 1 goalkeeper, going 5-1-0 in her six appearances this year so far.

Eighteen of the 20 players selected by DiCicco were born in 1988 or 1989, but he did select two high school-aged players born in 1990 in midfielder Christine Nairn and forward Sydney Leroux. Fourteen different colleges are represented on the roster, led by three players each from the University of Portland and the University of North Carolina.

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying

Player Pos. Ht. Birthdate Hometown College / Youth Club
Arnold, Kristin GK 6-0 6/5/1988 Centennial, Colo. Texas A&M / Real Colorado
Dallstream, Kiersten F 5-6 3/5/1988 Fountain Hills, Ariz. Washington State / Sereno
DiMartino, Gina F 5-3 7/31/1988 Massapequa Park, N.Y. Boston College / Commack Emeralds
Edwards, Becky M 5-7 5/22/1988 Downington, Pa. Florida State / Westchester Predators
Enyeart, Michelle F 5-6 7/26/1988 Hemet, Calif. Portland / Laguna Hills Eclipse
Fountain, Kaley D 5-7 7/1/1988 Austin, Texas Wake Forest / The Lonestars 88
Fowlkes, Lauren D 5-10 7/6/1988 Lee’s Summit, Mo. Notre Dame / KC Dynamos
Klingenberg, Meghan M 5-2 8/2/1988 Gibsonia, Pa. North Carolina / Hot Spurs
Leroux, Sydney F 5-7 5/7/1990 Phoenix, Ariz. Horizon HS / Sereno FC
Marshall, Nikki D 5-7 6/2/1988 Mead, Colo. Colorado / Colorado GSA
McDonald, Jessica F 5-10 2/28/1988 Glendale, Ariz. Phoenix College / Sereno FC
Morgan, Alex F 5-7 7/2/1989 Diamond Bar, Calif. California / Cypress Elite
Naeher, Alyssa GK 5-9 4/20/1988 Seymour, Conn. Penn State / South Central Premier
Nairn, Christine M 5-5 9/25/1990 Bowie, Md. Archbishop Spalding / Freestate Shooters
Nogueira, Casey F 5-6 2/23/1989 Raleigh, N.C. North Carolina / CASL Spartan Elite
O’Hara, Kelley F 5-5 8/4/1988 Fayetteville, Ga. Stanford / PTC Lazers 88Elite
Reed, Elli D 5-3 8/10/1989 Park City, Utah Portland / Utah Avalanche Premier
Washington, Nikki F 5-4 8/1/1988 Mesquite, Texas North Carolina / Dallas Texans
Wells, Ingrid M 5-3 3/29/1989 Montclair, N.J. Georgetown / Parsippany SC
Winters, Keelin M 5-8 12/9/1988 Denver, Colo. Portland / Real Colorado

Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Kristin Arnold (Texas A&M), Alyssa Naeher (Penn State)
DEFENDERS (4): Kaley Fountain (Wake Forest), Lauren Fowlkes (Notre Dame), Nikki Marshall (Colorado), Elli Reed (Portland)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Becky Edwards (Florida State), Meghan Klingenberg (North Carolina), Christine Nairn (Bowie, Md.), Ingrid Wells (Georgetown), Keelin Winters (Portland)
FORWARDS (9): Kiersten Dallstream (Washington State), Gina DiMartino (Boston College), Michelle Enyeart (Portland), Sydney Leroux (Phoenix, Ariz.), Jessica McDonald (Glendale, Ariz.), Alex Morgan (California), Casey Noguira (North Carolina), Kelley O’Hara (Stanford), Nikki Washington (North Carolina)

Head Coach: Tony DiCicco Wethersfield, Conn.
Asst. Coach: Tom Stone Lubbock, Texas
Asst. Coach: Kat Mertz Las Vegas, Nevada
Asst. Coach: Amanda Cromwell Orlando, Fla.