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USA Set to Open 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship vs. DR Congo

U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team
Notes from Moscow, Russia
Thursday, August 17, 2006

U.S. WOMEN SET TO OPEN FIFA U-20 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team will open the 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Championship on Aug. 18 against the Democratic Republic of Congo at Torpedo Stadium in Moscow. Kickoff for the historic match is 4 p.m. local / 8 a.m. ET and fans can follow all the action on’s MatchTracker. The game will mark the first meeting between a U.S. Women’s National Team and the Congo at any level and should make for a wild and unpredictable match. The two teams have been staying at the same hotel in Moscow, but the communication barrier – the Congolese speak almost no English and the U.S. players speak almost no French – has kept the interactions to a minimum. This will be the first meeting between the USA and an African team at the FIFA women’s youth world championship, but the senior team played Nigeria at both the 1999 and 2003 Women’s World Cups. Four matches will already be in the books by the USA-Congo match kicks off, which starts concurrently with a game in Group C featuring Switzerland and Mexico at Dynamo Stadium in Moscow. This is the first time the FIFA women’s youth world championship has been staged as a U-20 event, with Under-19 tournaments being held in 2002 and 2004. The USA held its official training at Torpedo Stadium on the evening of Aug. 17, getting precisely 45 minutes on the game field (photos).

LOPEZ TO CAPTAIN U.S. U-20s: Defender Stephanie Lopez will captain the USA at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship. A veteran of the USA's third-place team at the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship in Thailand, she played every minute of that tournament. Lopez has five caps with the full Women's National Team and played a major role in helping Portland to an undefeated season and the NCAA title in 2005. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris captained the USA in Thailand and at the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship in Canada, current U.S. WNT midfielder Lindsay Tarpley captained the USA to the title.

all_access video – MOSCOW HERE WE ARE: The U.S. team is entrenched in Moscow and ready to start the tournament. See video of the team’s first day as well as a trip to the historic Red Square and interviews with the players in advance of the first match against The Democratic Republic of Congo.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: The USA and the Congo took different paths to the World Championship, with the USA going through a qualifying tournament based in Mexico while Congo played in Benin, Mali and South Africa in its three-round qualification process. This youth world championship will mark the first time two African women’s teams have participated. Nigeria has been Africa’s representative in the two previous competitions, with Congo making history by claiming the other spot. The match will be DR Congo’s first-ever game in a FIFA Women’s World Championship at any level.

USA Qualifies Through Mexico
Unlike 2004, when the USA lost in the championship game of CONCACAF qualifying, the 2006 U.S. U-20s took home the regional championship with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory against Canada in the title game of the CONCACAF Final Women’s U-20 Qualifying Tournament staged in Mexico at the end of January. The USA played its first three games in Cordoba, Mexico, defeating Jamaica, 4-1, in its opening match as four different players scored. The USA then downed Surinam by a 4-0 score, once again with four different goal scorers. In the final group match against El Salvador, the USA won, 5-0, as Lauren Cheney and Jessica Rostedt each scored twice. In the semifinal, the USA earned its berth to Russia with a convincing 3-0 victory against Mexico, getting two spectacular goals from Brittany Bock and one from Amy Rodriguez.

Although both the USA and Canada had already earned their berths to Russia through victories in the semifinals, the championship game was a wild affair that saw the USA take an early lead, only to lose defender Carrie Dew to a red card just before halftime. Canada roared back to score twice early in the first 16 minutes of the second half before Cheney took over, setting up Rostedt for the tying goal in the 71st minute and bagging the winner herself with eight minutes left in the match. It was the first CONCACAF youth title for the U.S. women.

DR Congo Upsets South Africa to Get to Russia
The Congolese had to go through three rounds of qualifying to earn their berth. In the opening series, the Congo defeated Benin twice, 2-1 at home and 1-0 away to advance to the next round against Mali. The Simbas of Congo tied Mali away, 1-1, before Mali forfeited the return match, sending Congo to a semi-final series against South Africa. The South Africans won, 2-1, at home, but the Congo pulled off an historic 1-0 win on their home soil, sending them to Russia by virtue of their one away goal. They became instant heroes in their country, even getting an audience with the president. The Congo was supposed to play Nigeria in the African U-20 championship match, but the game never took place as both teams had already qualified through to Russia. The African qualification process was completed after the U-20 WWC draw, and Nigeria and Congo were placed into their groups in a special draw held by FIFA, with the Congo falling into Group D and Nigeria into Group B.

USA vs. CONGO PREVIEW: The United States are heavy favorites in this game, but the DR Congo will surely put up a fight in what will be the biggest match in its young women’s soccer history. It’s a rare opportunity for a team like the Congo to get a crack at a traditional power like the United States, and the American players are taking nothing for granted, expecting a physical and combative match.

Said Congolese head coach Polycarpe Issotonga: "(The USA) is a very strong team, whose great strengths are speed of execution and physical power. But we are capable of troubling them with our own style of play."

The USA has four forwards that Schulz can deploy, and all have scored a bushel of goals for the USA so far this year leading into the WWC. Rostedt (22 goals), Cheney (21), Kelley O’Hara (18) and Rodriguez (14) all could see action up top for the USA. Casey Nogueira, the youngest player on the team (17 years, 177 days when the tournament kicks off), could also see some action at forward. The U.S. team is a potent attacking force, but has struggled defensively at times this year and will have to keep it tight in the back against the speedy and unpredictable Africans.

Said Schulz: “I don't know much about Congo, apart from what I’ve read in the media, but we know they will be highly motivated and committed. However, I'm always a little bit worried by African teams because they are often unpredictable, especially in the attack. The key will be to keep players behind the ball at all times, perfectly positioned and with players ready to cover. Our team is excellent in the air and controls the play well, and we have the benefit of having good depth on our bench."

U.S. Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 18-Kelsey DAVIS (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), 21-Joanna HAIG (Inver Grove Heights, Minn), 1-Val HENDERSON (Orinda, Calif.);
DEFENDERS (6): 15-Carrie DEW (Encinitas, Calif.), 16-Erin HARDY (Costa Mesa, Calif.), 4-Nikki KRZYSIK (Clifton, N.J.), 3-Stephanie LOGTERMAN (Austin, Texas), 6-Stephanie LOPEZ (Elk Grove, Calif.), 5-Sara WAGENFUHR (Colorado Springs, Colo.);
MIDFIELDERS (8): 2-Jordan ANGELI (Lakewood, Colo.), 9-Danesha ADAMS (Shaker Heights, Ohio), 10-Brittany BOCK (Naperville, Ill.), 13-Tina DiMARTINO (Massapequa Park, N.Y.), 11-Tobin HEATH (Basking Ridge, N.J.), 14-Allie LONG (East Northport, N.Y.), 20-Casey NOGUEIRA (Cedarburg, Wis.), 7-Amanda POACH (Bowie, Md.);
FORWARDS (4): 8-Lauren CHENEY (Indianapolis, Ind.), 12-Amy RODRIGUEZ (Lake Forest, Calif.), 19-Kelley O’HARA (Fayetteville, Ga.), 17-Jessica ROSTEDT (Kent, Ohio).

DR Congo Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Mamie BUAZO (CS Grand Hotel), 16-Francine BAHATI (La Source de Kivu), 21-Dina LUSANDU (FCF Bumbu);
DEFENDERS (9): 2-Pitshou TEZI (FCF Milinga), 3-Lucie MENGI (FT Mondo), 5-Guyssie KIUVU (CS Grand Hotel), 6-Nanu MAFUALA (CS Grand Hotel), 7-Oliva AMANI (La Source de Kivu), 14-Odile KUYANGISA (FCF Milinga), 17-Yvonne MALEMBO (CS Grand Hotel), 19-Thethe NLENVO (MCF Bilenge), 18-Nicky ELONGO (ASF Academia);
MIDFIELDERS (5): 8-Olga WADIO (CS Grand Hotel), 10-Arlette MAFUTA (CS Grand Hotel), 11-Nanouche LUMBU (CS Grand Hotel), 13-Charmante NSIMBA (CS Grand Hotel), 15-Christine BONGO (FCF Milinga);
FORWARDS (4): 4-Tresorine NZUZI (CSF Batende), 9-Annette NSHIMIRE (La Source de Kivu), 12-Mify ZENGA (CSF Batende), 20-Natha ESSANDJA (CS Grand Hotel).

TOURNAMENT FORMAT: The 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Championship will feature 16 teams split into four groups of four teams each. The top two teams in each group will advance to the quarterfinals, where the single game knockout stage will begin. If teams should be tied on points at the end of group play (three points for a win, one for a tie, zero for a loss), the following are the first three tie-breakers:

1) Goal difference
2) Goals scored
3) Head-to-head result

For the complete schedule and results, go to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship page on This will be the first FIFA youth championship for women staged with 16 teams as 12 competed for the title in 2002 in Canada and 2004 in Thailand.

USSOCCER.COM's U-20 WNT BLOG ANSWERS ALL THE QUESTIONS: How do you spell “wet paint” in Russian? Who are the team soccer tennis champs? And why is it so tough to get around Moscow? answers these questions and more in this exclusive blog from Russia, keeping you up to date from inside the U-20 WNT at the 2006 FIFA Women's World Championship. Check back for regular updates as the team gets set for its opening game on August 18 against DR Congo.

DEW SUSPENDED FOR FIRST MATCH: U.S. defender Carrie Dew is suspended for the USA’s first match against DR Congo due to a red card received in the USA’s final CONCACAF qualifying match, a 3-2 win vs. Canada on January 27. Dew got two yellow cards in the first half for tackles from behind and was sent off four minutes before halftime.

PODCAST – KRZYSIK AND ROSTEDT, TWO PEAS IN A POD (KIND OF): They’ve seen each other almost every day for the past four years, but that hasn’t stopped Nikki Krzysik and Jessica Rostedt from staying best friends. Find out how the two UVA roomies and WNT teammates feel about the upcoming World Championship, and if Rostedt will ever take out the garbage (listen). Also, if you want to hear why U.S. midfielder Brittany Bock is motivated to score goals in Russia, check out her podcast, too.

SIDE TRIP TO ST. PETE: U.S. head coach Tim Schulz took a quick trip up to St. Petersburg on Thursday to watch the two opening matches of Group A, featuring New Zealand vs. Australia and the tasty encounter between host Russia and Brazil, both among the favorites to win the title. Assistant coach Steve Rammel will attend the games in Moscow, watching China vs. Finland and Nigeria vs. Canada. Russia played Brazil in the quartefinals of this tournament in Thailand 2004. Leading 2-1 with just minutes remaining, Russia allowed Brazil to equalize and the South American champs went on to win, 4-2, in overtime. In St. Petersburg, Brazil will not be fielding star striker Marta, who was not released by her Swedish club Umea, a huge blow to their chances, while the driving force of the Russian team, Elena Danilova - who did not play in Thailand - will appear for the tournament hosts.

USA IN RED AND BLUE: The U.S. team will open the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in their red jerseys, wearing blue shorts and blue socks. The Congo will be wearing all white.

BIG MEDIA TURNOUT EXPECTED: A large media turnout is expected at the Torpedo venue for the USA’s match against the DR Congo. The games are also being broadcast around the world to more than 50 countries. Torpedo Stadium was built in 1959 and the western stands were built 17 years later. The first soccer game was played at the renovated stadium in 1977. The stadium was a venue for the 1998 World Youth Games and is home to the professional club FC Moscow. The playing surface got a facelift two years ago and is now heated. The central bowl seats 13,400 and the field measures 114 by 74 yards.

Stat of Note:
Just two U.S. players have previously scored in a FIFA world championship. Rodriguez had two goals and Rostedt had three goals at the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand.

Quote of the Day:
One of the few English-language channels in the team hotel is Animal Planet, which means the U.S. team has been learning a lot of new and exciting facts about the wild kingdom, especially midfielder Allie long:

“I am seriously a Meerkat expert. I have been watching Meerkat Manor for like three hours straight. I should major in Meerkats.”