CHICAGO (January 11, 2010) – U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Jillian Ellis has named the 20 players who will attempt to earn a berth to the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany through the CONCACAF qualifying tournament being held Jan. 19-30 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
The 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship is an eight-team tournament that will send three nations to Germany. The qualifying matches will be played at the 17,000-seat Estadio Cementos Progreso. This is the first time a qualifying tournament for this age group has been held in Central America.
The event will consist of two groups of four teams each with the top two finishers after group play crossing over into the semifinals. The reigning U-20 world champion USA is up against Jamaica at 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 21, live on Fox Soccer Channel. The team will then face Trinidad & Tobago at 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 23, and Mexico at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, in Group B. Group A consists of Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba and host Guatemala.
The group winners will play the runners-up from the opposite group on January 28, with the championship and third-place matches set for Saturday, Jan. 30. Both semifinal matches and the tournament final will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel.
The winners of the semifinal matches and of the third-place match will qualify for the U-20 Women’s World Cup being held in four German cities (Bochum, Bielefeld, Augsburg and Dresden) from July 13-Aug. 1. The age cut-off date for this Women’s World Cup is players born on or after Jan. 1, 1990.
Ellis named the roster after a chilly week of training in Gainesville, Fla., and it features eight players who were members of the U.S. team that took second at the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand.
“We have had a great week of camp and I have been pleased with the players’ focus and overall level of play,” said Ellis. ”This is a very talented group of players and they are excited and very proud to represent the United States of America in the CONCACAF Championship. The team has great chemistry already and some very talented individuals. As a whole, they work very well together.”
Among the players who represented the USA in New Zealand are defender Amber Brooks, who captained the USA in several matches, as well as the tournament’s Bronze Ball winner Kristie Mewis, and Silver Shoe winner Vicki DiMartino, who scored five goals at the U-17 WWC. DiMartino, a striker for the U-17s and for Boston College where she was named ACC Freshman of the Year after scoring 14 goals, has been converted to an outside back for the U-20s. Ellis also named Taylor Vancil as one of the two goalkeepers, along with Bianca Henninger. Vancil was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament in New Zealand.
Outside back Rachel Quon, who played every minute of five starts in New Zealand, defender Crystal Dunn, and midfielders Elizabeth Eddy and Samantha Mewis were the other U-17 veterans named to the roster. Dunn rebounded from an illness to have an excellent tournament in New Zealand. Samantha Mewis is the younger sister of Kristie, the 2008 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year. In New Zealand, the two formed the first sister duo to represent the USA in a FIFA World Cup tournament.
Forward Sydney Leroux and midfielder Christine Nairn are the only two players on the roster who also participated in qualifying for the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup as well as the final tournament in Chile. Nairn is the only player on the qualifying roster who has a full national team cap, having played two matches for Pia Sundhage’s senior side while scoring one goal.
Both Leroux and Nairn played key roles in the USA winning the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Nairn played in all six games, starting four, and had two assists, including a key cross off a corner kick that was headed in by Keelin Winters, opening the scoring in a 3-0 victory over England in the quarterfinal match.
Leroux scored five times in the tournament, earning her Golden Ball honors as the MVP of the tournament and Golden Shoe honors as the top scorer. Leroux is the most capped player at the U-20 level on the qualifying roster, having played 16 international matches while scoring 12 goals. Nairn is the second most capped with 13 and one goal.
Rounding out the defenders is the speedy Kendall Johnson, who played in 21 matches for the University of Portland last season as a freshman, mostly at outside midfield, and 5-foot-10 Toni Pressley, a converted forward who started all 25 games for Florida State as a sophomore last season.
Rounding out the midfielders is Zakiya Bywaters from UCLA, Teresa Noyola from Stanford, Casey Short from Florida State and Jenna Richmond, a high school senior from McLean Soccer Club who was slated to be a key part of the 2008 U-17 Women’s World Cup Team, but was derailed by an ACL injury and couldn’t make it back for selection to the squad for New Zealand.
Adding firepower up front with Leroux (23 goals last season for UCLA) is a trio of forwards who add tremendous speed: high school senior Maya Hayes from the Aristics Club in New Jersey and Tiffany McCarty (17 goals for Florida State last season), and size: the six-foot Morgan Marlborough, who scored 21 goals for the Nebraska Cornhuskers while being named the 2009 Big 12 Offensive Player and Rookie of the Year.
The trip to Guatemala will mark the fifth 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, outscoring 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 earn 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 Cup in Russia, falling in consecutive penalty kick shootouts in the semifinal and the third-place match.
In 2008, the USA rolled through group play in Puebla, Mexico, defeating Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba and Mexico by a combined 16-0, then defeated Costa Rica 4-0 in the semifinal to earn its berth to Chile. The USA then fell for the second time to Canada in a CONCACAF youth final, losing 1-0 in the final.
Of course, the USA would go on to win the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, defeating England in the quarters, Germany in the semifinal and North Korea in the title game.
Of the 20 players named to the roster, just three are uncapped at the U-20 level and with a busy schedule of competitive matches planned in 2010 should the USA qualify for the World Cup, the player pool will certainly get increased international experience in this age group. In 2009, the U.S. U-20s compiled an overall record of 9-2-3 in all matches and 4-1-2 record in international games, losing only to Germany.
Eight of the 20 players selected by Ellis were born in 1990, nine were born in 1991 and three were born in 1992, meaning they would be age-eligible for the 2012 Under-20 Women’s World Cup. Two of those 1992s are Dunn and Samantha Mewis, who have already played in a FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup.
Ellis selected four high school seniors, but 10 different colleges are represented on the roster, led by three players from Florida State and two each from Boston College, Stanford and UCLA.
Eight nations have already qualified for Germany 2010. They are host Germany; Japan, Korea Republic and Korea DPR from Asia; and England, France, Sweden and Switzerland from Europe.
UNITED STATES UNDER-20 WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM
2010 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championships
Guatemala City, Guatemala
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bianca Henninger (Santa Clara; Los Gatos, Calif.), Taylor Vancil (Louisville; South Elgin, Ill.)
DEFENDERS (6): Amber Brooks (North Carolina; New Hope, Pa.), Vicki DiMartino (Boston College; Massapequa, N.Y.), Crystal Dunn (Albertson SC; Rockville Centre, N.Y.), Kendall Johnson (Portland; Portland, Ore.), Toni Pressley (Florida State; Melbourne, Fla.), Rachel Quon (Stanford; Lake Forest, Ill.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Zakiya Bywaters (UCLA; Las Vegas, Nev.), Elizabeth Eddy (So Cal Blues, Costa Mesa, Calif.), Kristie Mewis (Boston College; Hanson, Mass.), Samantha Mewis (Scorpion SC; Hanson, Mass.), Christine Nairn (Penn State; Bowie, Md.), Teresa Noyola (Stanford; Palo Alto, Calif.), Jenna Richmond (McLean SC; Centreville, Va.), Casey Short (Florida State; Naperville, Ill.);
FORWARDS (4): Maya Hayes (Aristics Club; West Orange, N.J.), Sydney Leroux (UCLA; Phoenix, Ariz.), Morgan Marlborough (Nebraska; Raymore, Mo.), Tiffany McCarty (Florida State; Laurel, Md.)