Tuesday, November 23, 2004
U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team
Notes from Bangkok, Thailand
U.S. U-19 WOMEN READY FOR GERMANY IN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SEMI: Only four teams remain in the FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship 2004, and the USA will face Germany in the first semifinal on Wednesday, Nov. 24, at Supachalasai Stadium in Bangkok. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. local / 5 a.m. ET and early risers or night owls can follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips. Brazil will take on China in the other semifinal at 7:45 p.m. local / 7:45 a.m. ET. The U.S. team held its last practice before the semifinal on Tuesday evening at 4:30 p.m. on an auxiliary field next to Supachalasai Stadium, also known as National Stadium, which seats up to 30,000 fans and hosted the 1970 Asian Games. All the gold medallists from that competition are posted around the outside rim of the stadium. After training, the U.S. team took a brief walkthrough of the match venue Rachamangala Stadium before heading back to the team hotel. On one of the coolest nights the U.S. team has experienced, but certainly not close to cold, the team ran through their final paces as skyscrapers loomed above the field and trains rumbled by on an elevated track. The semifinal stage features three of the four teams that made the semifinals in Canada in 2002, with China (which defeated Canada in the quarters) replacing Canada. Host Canada defeated Brazil in penalty kicks in 2002, while the USA defeated Germany to make the championship game.
2004 FIFA U-19 World Championship Semifinal Match-ups:
USA vs. Germany Bangkok – Supachalasai Stadium 5 p.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Brazil vs. China Bangkok – Supachalasai Stadium 7:45 p.m. local / 7:45 a.m. ET
U.S. TEAM LANDS IN BANGKOK: The U.S. team traveled on Monday morning from Chiang Mai, site of its quarterfinal win over Australia, to Thailand’s bustling capital of Bangkok, which is also know as Krungthep, or the "City of Angels." The population of Bangkok is more than six million, most of whom seem to be on the streets at any given moment. From the tropical beaches of Phuket in the southern part of the country, to the vibrant but quaint mountain city of Chiang Mai in the north with its population of 200,000, to Bangkok, one of Asia’s non-stop metropolises, the U.S. team has gotten a feel for three distinct parts of the country. The contrast of the serene beaches of Phuket with Bangkok is a drastic one, with a cityscape of endless tall buildings reaching up into the hazy sky. While the heavy traffic to and from training was not a welcome change for the U.S. team (with most of the Bangkok motorists seemingly ignoring the police escort), the Starbucks adjacent to the hotel was one positive of city life that the players have enjoyed. Bangkok is the final stop in the tournament for the U.S. team, as the Championship Final and Third Place matches will be held here (on Nov. 27) as well, albeit at a different venue – Rachamangala Stadium – the venue which hosted the two opening matches.
USA vs. GERMANY PREVIEW: The USA-Germany clash is a rematch of the semifinal from the 2002 U-19 FIFA Women’s World Championship, won by the USA, 4-1. Germany has just two players from that match in the powerful Anja Mittag and Karoline Thomas (who did not play), while the USA has four in Kerri Hanks, Angie Woznuk, Rachel Buehler and Ashlyn Harris, but only the latter two played vs. the Germans. Germany went up 1-0 in the 16th minute on a goal from Linda Bresonik off an assist from Mittag, but the Americans stormed back to get three goals before halftime, one from Lindsay Tarpley and two from Kelly Wilson. Jill Oakes added a blast in the 86th minute to seal the deal. Obviously, both teams are very different from 2002, and the match should be the most difficult thus far for the young U.S. team. Germany has strong, large and skillful players all over the field, while the 5-foot-9 Mittag is one of the top strikers in the world at this age group. Her hard running has caused problems for every team the Germans have faced in the tournament, and her six goals attest to that, but she is also a skillful player and team leader. The U.S. team will look to get behind the organized German back line, something they found difficult in the quarterfinal against an Australia team which dropped back almost to its own penalty area. The U.S. team will also have to keep track of Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi, who has three goals in the tournament. She has played at forward and in the midfield for the Germans and the daughter of French and Cameroonian parents brings some of the qualities of those countries star male players to the field. Both teams may tire as the match wears on, as both have played four matches over a two-week span, and fitness may come into play in the latter stages. Germany’s goalkeeper Tessa Rinkes is 5-foot-11 and the Americans will have to finish well to get around the lanky net-minder.
TOP GOAL SCORERS: Heading into the semifinals, it’s no coincidence that six of the top-eight scorers in the tournament are still alive. Ironically, the tournament’s tops scorer, Canada’s Brittany Timko with seven goals, is headed home. Each of the final four teams has at least one player with three or more goals, with Germany (Anja Mittag and Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi) and Brazil having two (2004 Olympic veterans Marta and Cristiane). Five different players have scored for the USA, and defender Stephanie Lopez has three assists, meaning danger can come from many different places on the U.S. team, a versatility they will need against the organized Germans. Following is a list of all the players who have scored three or more goals in the tournament.
Player (Country) Goals
Brittany Timko (CAN) 7
Anja Mittag (GER) 6
Zhang Ying (CHN) 3
Marta (BRA) 3
Cristiane (BRA) 3
Collette McCallum (AUS) 3
Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi (GER) 3
Jessica Rostedt (USA) 3
FIFA U-19 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FAST FACTS
- The USA’s goal in the 3rd minute against Russia was the quickest in U-19 World Championship history until China tallied a few seconds before against Canada. Both goals were on penalty kicks.
- Brittany Timko’s hat trick against Thailand was only the fourth in the short history of the U-19 World Championship. The USA’s Kelly Wilson (Aug. 25, 2002 vs. Denmark), Brazil’s Marta (August 21, 2002 vs. France) and Canada’s Christine Sinclair (5 goals vs. England on Aug. 25, 2002) were the others.
- Canada’s 7-0 victory over Thailand set a record for most goals in a game in the U-19 world championships.
- Thailand, which went out of the tournament with a minus-18 goal difference, became the first team to not score a goal in the tournament.
- The USA has allowed the fewest goals in the tournament at one.
- Only one reigning Confederation champion (South America’s Brazil) is still in the tournament. Asian champions South Korea, European champion Spain, CONCACAF champion Canada, Oceania champion Australia and African champion Nigeria have all been knocked out, Korea and Spain in the first round.
- FIFA has announced that the 2006 women’s youth world championship will move to an Under-20 age level. If the tournament does indeed move to U-20s, 10 of the USA’s 21 players on the 2004 roster will be age-eligible to participate.
- The USA is in first place in the somewhat complicated FIFA Fair Play Rankings heading into the semifinals. Germany is in second place, China is in 7th and Brazil, which had defender Elysa suspended for three matches after receiving a red card in the second group match, is in 8th place. Elysa’s red card for an off-the-ball incident was one of just three in the tournament, the other two coming on last defender fouls by goalkeepers.
- Germany has committed the second most fouls in the tournament (72) behind Nigeria (76).
- There have been four penalty kicks awarded in the tournament. The USA has three of them.
- Germany has scored the most goals in the tournament with 14.
- The semifinals could have looked a lot different. Germany was five minutes from losing to Nigeria while Brazil pulled an equalizer in the last seconds vs. Russia and then scored twice in overtime.
GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Laura COMEAU, 1-Kelsey DAVIS, 18-Ashlyn HARRIS; DEFENDERS (5): 3-Rachel BUEHLER, 19-Meagan HOLMES, 15-Nikki KRZYSIK, 6-Stephanie LOPEZ, 11-Becky SAUERBRUNN; MIDFIELDERS (8): 13-Yael AVERBUCH, 5-Sheree GRAY, 2-Stephanie KRON, 20-Stacy LINDSTROM, 8-Stephanie LOGTERMAN, 12-Alexa ORAND, 4-Jen REDMOND, 10-Angie WOZNUK; FORWARDS (5); 9-Kerri HANKS, 7-Megan RAPINOE, 16-Amy RODRIGUEZ, 17-Jessica ROSTEDT, 14-Meghan SCHNUR.
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Tessa RINKES, 12-Kathrin LAENGERT; DEFENDERS (8): 2-Peggy KUZNIK, 3-Anne VAN BONN, 4-Susanne KASPERCZYK, 5-Annike KRAHN, 13-Elena HAUER, 14-Carolin SCHIEWE, 15-Stephanie MPALASKAS, 18-Nina JOKUSCHIES; MIDFIELDERS (7): 6- Karolin THOMAS, 7-Melanie BEHRINGER, 8-Lena GOESSLING, 10-Celia OKOYINO DA MBABI, 16-Annika NIEMEIER, 17-Angelika FELDBACHER, 21-Carolin VEEH; FORWARDS (4): 9-Anja MITTAG, 11-Simone LAUDEHR, 19- Anna BLAESSE, 20-Patricia HANEBECK.
U.S. Quote Sheet:
U.S. head coach Mark Krikorian on Germany:
“Clearly in Anja Mittag they have one of the best forwards in the world at this age group. While the other teams have had good quality players all over the place, it’s safe to say that Mittag is a proven goal scorer and we’re going to have to keep pretty good track of her.”
More Kirkorian on Germany:
“They play a nice possession-style of soccer, much like their senior team. They have a lot of different attacking methods, sometimes they play the long ball or they can play short and combine. They are a very organized, well-oiled machine.”
U.S. midfielder Angie Woznuk on the semifinal match:
“We go into every match preparing for it to be difficult and it should be especially so since it's a semifinal. Germany is a very good team and they are very well organized. They play well together and are difficult to beat, but I know that if we play well we should get some chances.”
Woznuk on if this will be the most difficult game thus far:
“So far, probably, because just this being a semifinal adds to the intensity of game. Tomorrow, I guess, will tell us.”
Woznuk on her mindset heading into the semifinal:
"I'm nervous. Just being in the semifinal is a big deal. But, I'm confident in my team and our players. We just want to make sure that we're efficient and smart against Germany. We want to be prepared and cut down on small mistakes as much as we can."