U.S. UNDER-21 WOMEN FACE ICELAND TOMORROW: The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team opens the 2001 Nordic Cup tomorrow against Iceland in a Group A match at Gjovik Stadium (Kickoff 4:30 p.m. Local/10:30 a.m. ET). The U.S. team trained once on Monday and Tuesday at Vardal Stadium, home to a Fourth Division Norwegian club, playing possession games, working on set plays and doing finishing drills. The U.S. players looked particularly sharp on Tuesday in a crossing and volleying drill, which hopefully will carry over against Iceland tomorrow. Iceland features a quality goalkeeper in Thora Helgadøttir, who plays college soccer at Duke University. Helgadøttir also plays for the senior Iceland National Team and stymied the USA on April 8, 2000, in a match played in Charlotte, N.C., making 11 saves to earn Iceland a 0-0 tie after the USA out-shot her country, 19-4. Ironically, Helgadøttir let in eight goals just three days earlier in Davidson, N.C., as a team made up of mostly young U.S. players thrashed Iceland, 8-0. Tomorrow's U-21 clash between the USA and Iceland will be officiated by Finland's Saja Ratikainen. The USA's referee representative, Kari Seitz, will work the middle of the Sweden-Finland battle in Group B.
NORDIC CUP HISTORY IN BRIEF: The USA has won three out of the last four Nordic Cups, beating Norway twice and Germany once. The USA will have to get by Germany in group play this year to make the final as the two world youth powers meet in the final Group A match on July 29, but first the Americans must deal with the always tough Iceland and Denmark teams.
WUSA PLAYERS WELL REPRESENTED AT NORDIC CUP: Numerous players that have competed in past Nordic Cups have gone onto play for the full U.S. Women's National Team and in the WUSA. Following is a partial list of WUSA players who have played in the Nordic Cup for the United States:
- Heather Aldama (Boston Breakers)
- Justi Baumgardt (Washington Freedom)
- Lakeysia Beene (Bay Area CyberRays)
- Kelly Cagle (Atlanta Beat)
- Mandy Clemens (Philadelphia Charge)
- Robin Confer (Boston Breakers)
- Meotis Erikson (Boston Breakers)
- Lorrie Fair (Philadelphia Charge)
- Ronnie Fair (New York Power)
- Nel Fettig (New York Power)
- Meredith Florance (Carolina Courage)
- Michelle French (Washington Freedom)
- Jen Grubb (Washington Freedom)
- Venus James (Bay Area CyberRays)
- Kalli Kamholz (Philadelphia Charge)
- Jen Mascaro (San Diego Spirit)
- Rebekah McDowell (Philadelphia Charge)
- Raven McDonald (New York Power)
- Heather Mitts (Philadelphia Charge)
- Siri Mullinix (Washington Freedom)
- Jaime Pagliarulo (San Diego Spirit)
- Cindy Parlow (Atlanta Beat)
- Tiffany Roberts (Carolina Courage)
- Laurie Schwoy (Philadelphia Charge)
- Kim Stiles (Boston Breakers)
- Kristy Welchel (New York Power)
BUSY CHALUPNY SUMMERS IN EUROPE: Seventeen-year-old midfielder Lori Chalupny (pronounced Kul-UP-Knee) will spend a large part of her summer like many 17-year-olds dream about - traveling in Europe. Chalupny, however, will be wearing the colors of her country and carry her soccer cleats instead of a backpack and a EuroRail Pass. A key player on the U.S. Under-19 National Team that is in preparation for qualification for the first-ever FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championships, Chalupny was called into the U-21s pre-Nordic Cup camp after injuries knocked out several players and earned a spot on the team and a trip to Norway. She will return to the United States on Aug. 1 and then join the U-19s in Chicago for an exhibition game four days later before returning to Europe with the U-19s on Aug. 7, this time to Germany and Holland.
TEAM BONDING: The U.S. team participated in some team-building exercises on Tuesday morning as blindfolded players were led from the team hotel to a nearby park by only the voices of their non-blindfold teammates. The players also undertook the task (without blindfolds) of getting the entire team through two ropes tied horizontally between two tress about five feet from the ground, with only two feet between the ropes, without touching the ropes. After some initial team discussion, the team worked together to lift and pass 5-foot-11 Abby Wambach through the ropes, and from there, the rest was easy, except midfielder for Lori Lindsey's turn, as the players somehow managed to touch the ropes three times before getting her through on the fourth try. The players then blindfolded the partners who had been the guides on the first leg and led their partners back to the hotel along a different path. There were no major mishaps along the way, although defender Anna Kraus almost jumped into a creek, defender Ally Marquand almost fell down a step and Wambach was almost was led into a pole by her partner.
STAT OF NOTE: Four players from Atlanta Coast Conference college teams are on the Nordic Cup roster (Jena Kluegel, Danielle Borgman and Cat Reddick from UNC and Lori Lindsey from UVA), but the Pac-10 is almost equally represented, placing three players (Hope Solo from Washington, Ally Marquand from Stanford and Laura Schott from UC Berkeley). The West Coast Conference also has three players (Devvyn Hawkins and Anna Kraus from Santa Clara and Erin Misaki from Portland).