CHICAGO (Tuesday, April 9, 2002) - The U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team will face the Jamaican and Canadian U-19 squads on April 12 and 14 respectively as U.S. head coach Tracey Leone gets a final look at her players before naming the 18-woman roster that will represent the USA at the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament to be held May 7-11, 2002, on the islands of Trinidad & Tobago. The winners of the two groups in that tournament will earn berths to the first-ever FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship to be held August 17 through Sept. 1, 2002, in Canada.
The USA, Jamaica and Canada will participate in a round-robin tournament at the Sunrise Hilton Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The USA will play Jamaica on April 12 at 10 a.m. ET and Canada on April 14 at Noon ET. Jamaica and Canada will square off on April 13 at 10 a.m. ET. The USA and Jamaica are gearing up for the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament while Canada already has a berth into the first-ever world soccer championship for youth women due to their status as host.
In the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament, the USA will play in Group B with Haiti, Costa Rica and Suriname while Jamaica will be in Group A along with host T & T, Mexico and Panama. The top two teams in both groups will qualify for the FIFA World Championship. The qualifying tournament originally was scheduled for May 5-12 with a championship game between the winners of both groups, but was adjusted and will now feature only round-robin play within the groups. Group A will play on the island of Trinidad at the Dr. Joao Havelange Centre of Excellence while Group B will play on the island of Tobago at Dwight Yorke Stadium, built for the 2001 FIFA U-17 Boys World Championship. The complete qualifying schedule is attached.
The Under-19s recently announced a major initiative to use the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship as a platform to help raise awareness for the prevention of skin cancer. As a young team, playing outdoors every day, the team has partnered with The Skin Foundation to spread the word through clinics, appearances at schools and interaction with the media. The U.S. U-19 Women have made it a team goal to inform the public that almost all skin cancers are preventable and curable when detected and treated early.
Leone's 20-player roster for the Jamaica and Canada games features seven college freshman, nine high school seniors, two high school juniors and two sophomores. Four of the players, defender Amy Steadman, midfielder Lori Chalupny and forwards Heather O'Reilly and Kelly Wilson have earned caps for the senior U.S. Women's National Team. Steadman and Chalupny played for the USA at the 2001 Algarve Cup in Portugal, earning four caps each, while O'Reilly and Wilson played for the USA a month ago at the 2002 Algarve Cup. O'Reilly played in all four matches while Wilson played in three, picking up the first goal and first assist of her full national team career. Wilson was the U-19s leading scorer in 2001, pounding in 12 goals in 13 games. Defender Jill Oakes, the 2002 Parade Magazine High School Player of the Year, and Chalupny, both played major roles for the U.S. Under-21 National Team last summer, helping the squad to the Nordic Cup title.
"I've been with this team for a year and half and I've discovered that they are an extraordinary and unique group of athletes and people," said Leone, a member of the USA's 1991 Women's World Cup Team. "They really remind me of our '91 team. The chemistry, the leadership, the level of commitment and mental toughness are truly special. Since FIFA announced the U-19 world championship at the end of 2000, it's been a wonderful journey, but also a tough one for all the players. The bond that this group has formed over that time is very rare."
The U-19s are stocked with offensive firepower. Forward Lindsey Tarpley is a devastating one-on-one attacker while Megan Kakadelas is a wonderfully slippery dribbler. In the midfield, the U-19s feature skills and ball-winning ability with Oakes, who can also play in the back, Chalupny and the deceptive Alison Graham. Manya Makoski is a devastating flank player, Annie Schefter adds smoothness and scoring, while Sarah Huffman adds hardness.
The U-19s also boast some tremendously talented defenders, including Jessica Ballweg and Leslie Osborne, both members of Santa Clara's 2001 NCAA championship team. The USA will be without the services of captain Keeley Dowling for the qualifying tournament as she is still recovering from an ankle injury suffered during the tour of Mexico in early March. In goal, Leone has three talented players in high school junior Kim Bingham, sophomore Ashlyn Harris and Auburn University freshman Megan Rivera. Tarpley will take over the captain's role.
"This team has handled the pressure of the selection process, all the travel and the difficulty of missing school, and found a way to make it all work," added Leone. "It's hard to foster chemistry during a process that like, but this team actually formed a stronger union. It's a very unselfish team. While we've developed a strong core, we've also looked at over 60 players in large and talented pool that has battled to make this roster. With all the camps and games we've had I know we will be very happy with the team we select."
U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team Roster
|Ballweg, Jessica||D||5'5"||03/10/83||Metuchen, N.J.||MCorPDA Dynamo / Santa Clara|
|Bingham, Kim||GK||5'7"||10/23/84||San Ramon, Calif.||San Ramon Illusion / California HS|
|Buehler, Rachel||D||5'4"||08/26/85||Del Mar, Calif.||San Diego Surf / Torrey Pines HS|
|Chalupny, Lori||M||5'2"||01/29/84||Chesterfield, Mo.||JB Marine / Nerinex Hall HS|
|Fletcher, Kendall||D||5'5"||11/06/84||Cary, N.C.||Greensboro Twisters / Apex HS|
|Graham, Allison||M||5'3"||08/20/84||Fayetteville, Ga.||AFC Lightning / Starrs Mill HS|
|Hanks, Kerry||F||5'6"||09/02/85||Allan, Texas||Dallas Texans|
|Harris, Ashlyn||GK||5'9"||10/19/85||Satellite Beach, Fla.||Seminole Ice / Satellite HS|
|Huffman, Sarah||M||5'4"||03/05/84||Flower Mound, Texas||D'Feeters / Marcus HS|
|Kakadelas, Megan||F||5'9"||07/26/83||Carlsbad, Calif.||San Diego Surf / Southern Cal.|
|Makoski, Manya||M||5'3"||04/18/84||Trumbull, Conn.||Yankee United / Trumbull HS|
|Oakes, Jill||M||5'4"||07/18/84||West Hills, Calif.||SA Strikers / Harvard-Westlake HS|
|O'Reilly, Heather||F||5'4"||01/02/85||East Brunswick, N.J.||PDA Splash / E. Brunswick HS|
|Osborne, Leslie||D||5'7"||05/27/83||Menomonee Falls, Wis.||Eclipse Select / Santa Clara|
|Rivera, Megan||GK||5'7"||02/07/83||Miami, Fla.||Miami Premier / Auburn|
|Schefter, Annie||M||5'8"||01/10/84||Yakima, Wash.||Strikers / West Valley HS|
|Steadman, Amy||D||5'2"||09/08/84||Brevard, N.C.||Greensboro Twisters / North Carolina|
|Tarpley, Lindsey||F||5'6"||09/22/83||Kalamazoo, Mich.||Michigan Hawks / Portage Central|
|Trainor, Jessica||D||5'7"||04/02/83||Sparta, N.J.||PDA Dynamo / Virginia|
|Wilson, Kelly||F||5'6"||02/19/83||Odessa, Texas||Dallas Sting / Texas|