CHICAGO (February 13, 2003) – Tracey Leone, the coach who guided the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team to the inaugural FIFA U-19 World Championship in 2002, has been named assistant coach of the U.S. Women's National Team and will travel with the team to Costa Rica today as the squad gets settled in for a two-week training camp that culminates in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament for women's soccer from February 25–March 4, 2004, in San Jose and Heredia, Costa Rica.
Leone, a member of the USA’s 1991 Women’s World Cup Championship Team which Heinrichs captained to the first-ever world title for women’s soccer, has experience at all levels in the U.S. Youth National Team programs, having served as assistant coach for the U.S. U-21s in 1997 and 1998, the head coach of the U-16s in 2000, and for the past three years, the head coach of the U.S. U-19s. She led the team to their historic first-ever world title for the youth women in Canada in September of 2002 when her team completed a storybook run to the championship by defeating host Canada, 1-0, in front of almost 50,000 fans in Edmonton.
“The time I’ve spent with the U-19 Women's National Team has been very precious,” said Leone. “I've built a great rapport with these players and have a strong attachment to this team, but helping the full team in their preparations for the Olympics was just too great an opportunity to pass up.”
With Leone moving into her new role with the full Women's National Team, Mark Krikorian, formerly the head coach of the WUSA's Philadelphia Charge takes over the reins of the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team. Under Krikorian, the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team will take their first step towards the 2004 FIFA Under-19 World Championship in Thailand on Friday when the team travels to Mexico for two international matches against the full Mexican Women's National Team. In Mexico, the U-19s will play matches on Feb. 18 in Mexico City (1 p.m. CT) and on Feb. 20 in Tabasco (8 p.m. CT) in the first international tests of 2004 for the young team.
The U-19s are preparing for the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament that will be held from May 28-June 6, 2004 in Ottawa and Montreal, Canada. The top two finishers in that tournament advance to the 2004 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship being held in Thailand in November.
The U.S. U-19s have traveled to Mexico in the first part of the year for the last three years, and it has proven a valuable trip for the team in terms of competition and development, especially due to playing in front of highly partisan crowds. Last year, the young U.S. team dropped the first match of the tour 1-0 before coming back to take the second leg, 2-0, on goals from Megan Rapinoe and Angie Woznuk, both of whom are on the roster for this trip.
“In my experience with the WUSA, Mark has demonstrated all the necessary qualities to excel at the international level,” said Heinrichs. “I believe this eye for talent, his ability to organize a team and his ability help players develop creatively will serve our U-19s well as they prepare for World Cup qualifying.”
Krikorian was one of the most successful coaches in the three-year history of the WUSA, leading the Charge into the playoffs the first two seasons with one of the top attacks in the league, and one of the stingiest defenses. Krikorian was a highly successful women’s college coach, compiling an overall record of 168-49-6 in five years at the University of Hartford, which included four NCAA playoff berths, and six seasons at Division II Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire, where he won NCAA Division II titles in 1994 and 1995.
"This is a great opportunity for me," said Krikorian. "It's a big challenge and I hope to continue with this team where Tracey left off. I am very much looking forward to working within U.S. Soccer's great Women's National Team program and with some very talented young women that make up our player pool."