U.S. WOMEN MOVE TO EDMONTON IN PREPARATION FOR SEMIFINAL: After spending two glorious weeks in Victoria, B.C., a stretch in which the U.S. team could not have asked for better weather and kinder hospitality, the Americans moved to Edmonton last Monday in preparation for tomorrow's semifinal against Germany in the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship. The match will kick off at 5:15 p.m. MT (4:15 PT and 7:15 ET) and be broadcast live in the United States on Fox Sports World. Fans can also follow the action live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics. After defeating Denmark, 6-0, in their quarterfinal match on Sunday, Aug. 25, the U.S. team relaxed for most of Monday before departing for the Victoria airport that afternoon and caught a 6 p.m. PT flight to Edmonton, arriving at the team hotel downtown about 10 p.m. MT, joining Brazil, Canada and Germany in this capital of the Alberta province.
USA vs. GERMANY WILL BE FIRST EVER U-19 WOMEN'S MATCH BROADCAST LIVE IN THE U.S.: Fox Sports World will air the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team's semifinal match against Germany live on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. ET / 4:15 p.m. PT as the team attempts to qualify for the championship game of the inaugural FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship being played at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada. Fox Sports World will also air the championship game on Sunday live at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT featuring the winner of the U.S.-Germany semifinal and either Canada or Brazil, who will square off in the other semifinal on Thursday. The broadcast rights to both matches were obtained by U.S. Soccer, with support from Eurosport and Fox Sports World, who cleared broadcast time on their network on short notice in order to bring the games to soccer fans across the United States.
GERMANY PREVIEW: Germany emerged from the "Group of Death" to make the semifinals of the U-19 World Championship. Drawn with Brazil, Mexico and France, the European champion Germans were favored in the group and started Group B play with a solid 2-0 victory over France on two goals from forward Anja Mittag. Germany then fell to tournament revelation Brazil, 1-0, in a hard-fought match that was officiated by the USA's Kari Seitz, setting up a must-win game against Mexico. The Germans actually fell behind 1-0, but stormed back on goals by Barbara Mueller, Annelie Brendel and Mittag to win, 3-1, and take second place in the group. The Germans likely expected to get Denmark in their quarterfinal, but the Danes were upset by Japan in the final game of Group A, pairing the Japanese against the Germans in the round of eight. Germany fell behind Japan 1-0 just before halftime, but tied the game in dramatic fashion on a stoppage time goal in the second half, then won it with a golden goal just four minutes into overtime. Linda Bresonik scored both goals, one at 93+ and the winner in the 94th minute. The Germans are big, strong and technical with several talented attacking players, and will no doubt present a tough challenge for the young U.S. team. The German coach is Silivia Neid, one of the finest players of her generation for the German National Team. She played in the 1991 and 1995 Women's World Cups for her country.
FIFA PRESIDENT TO ATTEND SEMIFINALS: FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter will arrive in Edmonton tomorrow to attend the remaining games and days of the first-ever FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship. Mr. Blatter will hold a press conference on Sat., August 31, at 5:15 MT, at the Westin Hotel (British Columbia room). He will be accompanied by the Honorable Anne McLellan, Minister of Health, Government of Canada, and Honorary Chair of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), the Honorable Paul Devillers, Secretary of State (Sport), Government of Canada, Jack Warner, FIFA Vice-President, CONCACAF Chair and acting Chairman of the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship Organizing Committee, Andy Sharpe, President of the Canadian Soccer Association and Jim Fleming, LOC Chair.
THE HARDWARE: Like in a senior world championship, FIFA will give out eight trophies at the end of this competition. Of course, the winner will lift the U-19 Women's World Championship Trophy, but FIFA will also give out its Fair Play Award, as well as gold, silver and bronze balls for the three tournament MVPs and gold, silver and bronze boots for the top three scorers.
NOW THAT'S A MALL: After an intense tournament so far, the U.S. team took the night off on Tuesday, going en masse to the West Edmonton Mall, billed as "The World's Largest Entertainment and Shopping Centre" and perhaps a sort of Utopia for a group of 18 teenage women. With over 800 stores, 110 eating establishments, a massive indoor amusement park, ice-skating rink and a self-contained water park, the entire complex covers 48 city blocks and served as a great distraction for the U.S. players. The U.S. team did some power shopping in the short time allowed, rode some rides at the amusement park and then ate dinner at the mall before heading back to the hotel for a well-deserved night's sleep.
STATS OF NOTE: The 22 matches of the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship have drawn 165,155 fans, an average of 7,507 fans a game. The largest crowds have been in Edmonton where host Canada has played in front of massive support, the largest of which was the 23,595 fans that turned out for its quarterfinal win over England. An even larger crowd is expected for tomorrow's semifinal doubleheader. The tournament matches have been wide-open attacking affairs with 91 goals scored so far, an average of 4.1 a game. There have been 40 yellow cards given out, an average of just 1.8 per game, but five red cards, three of which resulted from a second yellow card.
THEY SAID IT:
U.S. head coach Tracey Leone on the state of her team heading into the semifinal:
"The team is very excited about tomorrow. We've grown accustomed to Edmonton in the short time we've been here and today's training at the stadium will help us get comfortable with the surface and surroundings. This is what they have been working towards for a very long time and the girls are focused and ready to go. We're happy to be one of the final four survivors."
Leone on Germany:
"We know it will be a very physical and combative game. The Germans are always so well organized and dangerous on the counter attack because they have some great attacking personalities. We have great respect for their tradition, style and coaching staff. We certainly anticipated that they would be in the final four."
Leone on her impressions of the tournament overall:
"The overall tournament has been magnificent. The crowds have been enthusiastic and large and the play has been of a very high level. The excitement that the Canadians have generated has been wonderful to see. The people are aware of the tournament and it's just felt like world championship everywhere we've gone. The organizing committee has really put together a special event."