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Casey Nogueira Leads Youth Movement on U.S. U-20 WNT


She has a famous name, but unlike her dad, she’s becoming known for scoring goals, not stopping them. Seventeen-year-old Casey Nogueira, daughter of indoor legend Victor, is the youngest player on the U.S. squad at the 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Championship and played the entire second half against DR Congo on Aug. 18 in her first world championship match, hitting the crossbar twice. She took time out from a busy training and match schedule in Russia to talk about her soccer upbringing and the influence her dad has had on her career.

Oddly enough, there’s nothing that Casey Nogueira enjoys more than making a goalkeeper look silly. You would think that the daughter of the greatest indoor soccer goalkeeper in U.S. history might have a soft spot for the position, but no. Long-time San Diego Sockers and Milwaukee Wave great Victor Nogueira raised a forward, and the youngest player on the USA’s U-20 WC team takes as much pleasure in scoring goals as her dad did in stopping them during his legendary and almost unfathomable 28-year professional career.

“He is definitely a soccer dad,” said Casey, who cut her teeth on the U.S. U-16 and U-17 Women’s National Teams, giving her valuable experience that enabled her to make the roster for this World Championship. “He’d lecture me all the time, when we were driving to a game, after the game. He talked to me about tactics and the runs forwards should make. From his goalie perspective, he knew how to beat defenses. He could see the whole field from back there. He taught me everything I know.”

Victor retired in 2004 after playing half the season with the San Diego Sockers, but it took the team folding to get him off the field. Nogueira played five seasons outdoor in the NASL, but left his indelible mark on the indoor game, playing more than 25 years in arenas around the USA, a truly amazing feat considering the pounding indoor goalkeepers absorb on a daily basis.

Casey had a remarkably grounded upbringing considering her dad’s professional travails. She was born in San Diego in 1989, but moved to Milwaukee in 1992 where her dad played for 12 seasons for the Wave and has spent most of her 16 years in Wisconsin. During that time, she went with her dad to almost every Wave home game, and although she may not have known it at the time, got a soccer education which has proved invaluable to her development.

“I always went to the arena with him and before the games I played around with the players, just juggling in the halls of the stadium and goofing around with the ball,” said Casey. “I used to juggle with Todd Dusosky, Pat White and Joe Reineger. They were really nice to me and used come to my games. I’m pretty good on the ball because I’ve been juggling all my life. My dad made me start when I was five.”

While most kids at indoor games are running around and trying to find their next tasty treat, Casey watched the games intently. Almost accidentally she was exposed to the best coach in the world -- watching professional players. She learned skills and moves in the tight spaces of the indoor game and today she displays the staples of the indoor game, rolling the ball with her sole, quick cuts and wind-ups as she runs at defenses. Her juggling tricks are far and away the best on the U.S. team, some of which the other players wouldn’t even attempt.

“It helped me to see those guys play,” she said. “They were really good players in the league when I used to watch and I would try to do the same stuff they were doing. I love indoor. We’d have to play a lot in Milwaukee ‘cause it’s so cold. I love to use the boards and it is based on skill. You can shoot from anywhere.”

She still watches as many games as she can today, and her list of favorite players reads like a FIFA World All-Star Team.

“I love Thierry Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Figo, Pires, Zidane,” she said. “They are just so much fun to watch.”
Victor trained her from an early age, coaching her on boys’ club teams for the Cedarburg Strikers for three years, playing with boys from U-11s to U-15s up until she entered high school. During that time though, Casey rarely got to light up her dad.

“We used to train every day in the summers, but he’d never let me shoot on him,” said Casey, who could easily have had multiple goals against the Congo. “We’d always have a goalie come in that I could shoot on. I guess in the off-season, he just didn’t want to be a goalie. In indoor once, when I was like 12, I tried to shoot on him rapid fire. I had 10 balls and I scored one. Now I think I could get six by him if I’m lucky and if I go from corner to corner. Plus, he’s older now.”

When asked if she ever wanted to take a turn in goal, or if her dad ever wanted her to play between the posts, the answer comes quickly.

“My dad wouldn’t let me (play goalkeeper),” she said. “He had so many injuries that he wouldn’t let me get in there. He broke his leg, had meniscus tears, shoulder surgery, Achilles tendon surgery, broken arms. He’s had a lot of surgeries. He had pretty much everything fixed.”

Casey moved to Raleigh, N.C., in 2004 with her mom Pam, who she also credits as being a major influence in her life and soccer career. After the World Championship, she will enter her freshman season at UNC, having graduated from high school a year early.

With her dad now retired, he can watch her even more as she continues to develop on the soccer field. As the youngest player on U.S. team, she will be eligible for the next FIFA U-20 tournament as well.

“I was like, finally,” Casey said of her dad’s retirement. “I just wanted him to retire on a good note. I hate when they say players play too long, and they say you should have retired like 10 years ago, but my dad was at the top of his game the whole time. He was a stud.”

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