CHICAGO (March 31, 2004) – The U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team will play in its first major domestic competition from April 6-10, 2004, as China, Japan and Holland join the hosts for the first-ever Philips Lighting U-19 Women's Soccer Invitational to be held at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
The round-robin competition will feature three match days – April 6, 8 and 10 – as the USA squares off against Asia’s top two U-19 teams as well as the always competitive Dutch. The U.S. team, under head coach Mark Krikorian, is preparing for the CONCACAF U-19 Women’s Qualifying Tournament that will be held in Ottawa and Montreal, Canada, from May 28-June 6, 2004. The top two finishers at that tournament qualify for the 2nd FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship to be held in Thailand from November 10-27, 2004.
"We are thrilled to be hosting three outstanding teams and it will give us a little taste of playing against different styles," said Krikorian. "We’re fortunate to have such talented opponents to help us prepare for our qualification games. I think while it’s important to play the best competition we can, it’s also important that we get to play some age-group games and this tournament will pose some challenges we are looking forward to."
Admission to all six games is free, but fans will be ask to sit in designated areas on the outer training fields at the Home Depot Center.
The USA will play its first match on April 6 at 6:30 p.m. PT against Holland, then face Japan on April 8, also at 6:30 p.m. PT before finishing the tournament at 1 p.m. PT against China. All the U.S. matches will be held on Field 5 at the Home Depot Center, which is Field Turf, as the USA’s qualifying matches in Canada will be played on the same surface. All the other matches will be held on the adjacent Field 4.
All the players in the tournament, like the current group of U.S. U-19s competing for a spot in the second FIFA world championship for youth women, were born on or after Jan. 1, 1985. U.S. Soccer will award
trophies to the Top Goalscorer in the tournament, the Best Player and an overall Team Fair Play Award, as well as the trophy to champions based on points. Matches that are tied at the end of regulation will end in draws and if teams are tied on points at the end of the tournament, they will be broken as follows, 1) result of the match between the two tied teams, 2) best goals for, 3) best goal difference. Each team will be allowed five substitutions per match.
The tournament not only provides a unique opportunity for the U-19s from all four teams to play competitive tournament matches, but also gives Southern California soccer fans a chance to see some of the future stars of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Krikorian will bring 21 players to the event and choose 18 to suit up for the matches. The USA squad features four members of the 2002 U-19 World Championship Team that are still age-eligible for the 2004 team in forwards Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas) and Angie Woznuk (University of Portland), defender Rachel Buehler (Stanford University) and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (Satellite Beach, Fla.). Forward Heather O’Reilly (UNC), a star of the 2002 U-19 FIFA World Championship who has 21 caps and three goals for the full Women’s National Team is also still age-eligible for the current U-19s.
The U.S. U-19s, which most recently defeated two college teams at a training camp in Los Angeles earlier in March, has played two international matches so far this year, losing and tying the full Mexican Women’s National Team, who would go on to qualify for the 2004 Olympics, during a tour of Mexico in February of this year.
Several other key players are emerging for the USA including a trio of college freshman on the back line. U-19 co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn was the ACC Freshman of the year, while Jen Buczkowski started 23 of 24 games for Notre Dame and scored four goals with six assists out of the midfield. Stephanie Lopez also proved to be one of the top freshman in the nation, started all 23 games for Portland.
The USA set a grand attacking tradition at the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship, but the 2004 version has some talent on that end of the field as well. In addition to Hanks, who has scored 11 goals in her 21 U-19 internationals, and the wonderfully skillful Woznuk, who has three goals in 14 U-19 caps, speedy forward Cheree Gray (World Class) is emerging as a force. High school senior Megan Rapinoe (Elk Grove United) is the USA’s leading scorer in all matches this year and has shown a knack for scoring great goals.
"I am really satisfied with the progress we have made so far," said Krikorian. "The last camp in Los Angeles was very good as we had a lot of training days together so we were able to get everyone on the same page. I’m look forward to seeing how we measure up against European and Asian competition."
In goal, the USA has one of the top young goalkeepers in the world in Ashlyn Harris, the youngest member of the 2002 team who played spectacularly in the Final as a 16-year-old. The high school senior has been capped 24 times at the U-19 level and was recently named the Gatorade National Girl’s High School Player of the Year. Following is the complete schedule for the tournament as well as the USA’s 18-player roster.
2004 Philips Lighting U-19 Women's Soccer Invitational
April 6 Kickoff (PT) Field
China vs. Japan 4:00 pm 4
USA vs. Holland 6:30 pm 5
April 8 Kickoff (PT) Field
China vs. Holland 4:00 p.m. 4
USA vs. Japan 6:30 p.m. 5
April 10 Kickoff (PT) Field
Japan vs. Holland 11:00 a.m. 4
USA vs. China 1:00 p.m. 5
U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team Roster
2004 Philips Lighting U-19 Women's Soccer Invitational
April 6-10, 2004
The Home Depot Center – Carson, Calif.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris, Ashley Phillips; DEFENDERS (6): Jen Buczkowski, Rachel Buehler, Nikki Krzysik, Stephanie Logterman, Stephanie Lopez, Becky Sauerbrunn; MIDFIELDERS (5): Yael Averbuch, Chioma Igwe, Stacy Lindstrom, Jennifer Redmond, Carrie Schmit; FORWARDS (8): Bristyn Davis, Sheree Gray, Kerri Hanks, Kia McNiel, Alexa Orand, Megan Rapinoe, Julie Schnugg, Angie Woznuk.