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U.S. U-20 WNT Prepares to Face Canada in Finals of CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament

Thursday, January 26, 2006
U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team
Notes from Veracruz, Mexico

U.S. U-20 WOMEN TO FACE CANADA FOR CONCACAF TITLE: With the pressure of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia behind them, the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team now focuses on facing Canada for the CONCACAF regional title on Friday, January 27, at Luis Pirata Fuentes Stadium, home to the Red Sharks of the Mexican First Division. The match can be followed live on’s MatchTracker, beginning at 3 p.m. local / 4 p.m. ET. Both teams qualified for the 3rd FIFA world youth championship for women by virtue of semifinal victories on Wednesday, the USA over Mexico, 3-0, and Canada over Jamaica, 2-1. While the USA-Canada match is sure to be intense, the real emotion will come in the first match of the day as Mexico faces Jamaica at 12 p.m. local time for CONCACAF’S third and final berth to Russia. The 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship will be staged from Aug. 16-Sept. 2, 2006. It will be the second FIFA youth world championship hosted by Russia, which also staged the FIFA World Youth Championship for men in 1985, one of four FIFA U-20 World Championships won by Brazil.

The Final Four

January 25, 2006 – Semifinals
Canada 2, Jamaica 1
USA 3, Mexico 0

January 27, 2006
Mexico vs. Jamaica Third-Place Match (1 p.m. ET) Luis Pirata Fuentes Stadium (Veracruz)
USA vs. Canada Championship (4 p.m. ET) Luis Pirata Fuentes Stadium (Veracruz)

HOW THEY GOT THERE: While the U.S. team has won all of its matches handily, at least on the scoreboard, Canada has pulled out one-goal wins in its last two matches, defeating Mexico, 3-2, in its final group match and getting a deserved, but hard-fought 2-1 win over Jamaica in their semifinal. While Canada has seen its goal output decrease every match, from seven to six to three to two, they have scored more total goals than the USA, 18-16. Forward Amy Rodriguez has scored in three of the four matches and is tied for the team-lead in goals (three) with front line running mate Lauren Cheney.

Group B                           U.S. Goal Scorers
USA 4, Jamaica 1          DiMartino, Rodriguez, Adams, Cheney
USA 4, Surinam 0          Rodriguez, Long, Poach, O’Hara
USA 5, El Salvador 0     Cheney (2), Dew, Rostedt (2)
USA 3, Mexico 0             Bock (2), Rodriguez

Group A Canada              Goal Scorers
Canada 7, T&T 1             Collison, Maranda, Jamani, Robinson, Kyle, Sleiman (2)
Canada 6, Panama 0    Jamani (2), Robinson (3), Hingwing
Canada 3, Mexico 2        Lang, Schmidt (2)
Canada 2, Jamaica 1    Iacchelli, Collison

FINAL REMATCH: The USA and Canada will meet for the second straight time in the final of the CONCACAF youth qualifying tournament, having faced each other in 2004 in Canada when it was a U-19 event. The USA fell, 2-1, in overtime as Canada scored on a header with just two minutes left. Canada has the edge in experience coming into tomorrow’s game as nine of the players who played in that 2004 win over the USA are on this roster. Aysha Jamani scored Canada’s first goal just three minutes into that game. Only two U.S. players currently on the CONCACAF qualifying roster played in that match, Stephanie Logterman and Nikki Krzysik. Canada did not participate in the 2002 CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Trinidad & Tobago as it had an automatic berth due to hosting the world championship that year. There was no title game in the 2002 tournament, with the two group winners – USA and Mexico -- advancing straight to the world championship, so the USA will actually be trying to win its first regional title at the youth level.

USA vs. CANADA PREVIEW: There is no love lost between these two countries in women’s soccer and that certainly carries to the U-20 level. The two teams will meet for the first time with these groups of players, although both teams have players on their second go-around to a youth world championship. Canada has nine players who play Division I college soccer in the United States, two from the University of Connecticut, and one each from UCLA, LSU, Tennessee, West Virginia, Nebraska, Washington State and Ohio State. Therefore many of the U.S. players, also all college stars, will be very familiar with the Canadian team. Canada’s star is forward Kara Lang, who finished an excellent freshman season at UCLA last fall, scoring 17 goals, and a key to the USA’s success will be stopping the big Canadian. The U.S. will be familiar with Lang as four of her Bruin teammates wear the red, white and blue. This will actually be the third FIFA youth world championship for Lang, who as a 15-year-old was a member of the Canadian team that lost to the USA in the U-19 World Championship Final in Edmonton in 2002. She also played for Canada in 2004 in Thailand. Lang is tall and strong and has one of the hardest shots in the women’s game. Capped 50 times with 23 goals for full Canadian Women’s National Team, she is by leaps and bounds the most experienced player in this tournament. She scored in the 2003 Women’s World Cup semifinals against Sweden before the Scandinavians rallied to win and advance to the World Cup Final. Lang did not play the first two matches of this tournament, but arrived for the third and crucial match against Mexico and it’s an understatement to say she made an immediate impact. She scored directly off the opening kickoff, hammering her shot over the Mexican ‘keeper from midfield. Canada has several talented attacking players, especially the crafty Aysha Jamani, who plays at Nebraska. The speedy dribbler has two goals in the tournament and Jodi-Ann Robinson has three, all scored against Panama in a 6-0 win. Robinson was suspended for the semifinal after receiving a red card vs. Mexico. Captain Sophie Schmidt stepped up big for the Maple Leafs against Mexico, scoring twice from her center-back position.

GOALS FROM EVERYWHERE: The Canadians have shown similar depth to the Americans in their goal scoring, getting goals from nine different players. With two goals by Brittany Bock in the USA’s win over Mexico, 10 different U.S. players have scored in the tournament, the most of any team. The USA has gotten one goal from a defender in Carrie Dew, seven goals from the midfield in Tina DiMartino, Danesha Adams, Amanda Poach, Allie Long, Kelley O’Hara and two from Brittany Bock, and eight goals from forwards, three each from Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Cheney and two from Jessica Rostedt.

U.S. TEAM PROVES POPULAR IN MEXICO: With their dynamic style and goal-scoring prowess, the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team has won over numerous fans in Mexico, especially in Cordoba, site of the first three matches. While the Mexicans fans certainly booed and jeered the U.S. team during their match against the hosts, the mostly tall, blond and athletic U.S. players have been in high demand post-game for autographs and photos. The Mexican fans have taken a particular affinity to forward Amy Rodriguez. Her smooth and powerful attacking style and her Latin surname (her father is of Cuban decent) have surely made her a fan favorite, with cries of “Ayyy-meeeeeeeee!” echoing from the stands during and after the games. Rodriguez has even received a few small gifts from the Mexican fans.

FIELD FOR FIFA U-20 WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MORE THAN HALF FULL: A total of 16 teams will compete for the title, made up by four teams from Europe, three from CONCACAF and Asia, two from both Africa and South America, one from Oceania, and host Russia. The USA and Canada are in from CONCACAF after their semifinal wins and the European entrants have also already been determined with Germany, France and surprise qualifiers Finland and Switzerland earning berths at the most recent UEFA U-19 Women’s Championships held last August in Hungary. Brazil and Argentina booked their tickets to Russia on Jan. 20, finishing first and second respectively in the final phase of the South American qualification tournament in Chile. With nine teams already set, and either Mexico or Jamaica making 10 after tomorrow, that will leave just six teams from three confederations left to go. With Australia leaving the Oceania Confederation for Asia, count on New Zealand bagging that lone berth. In Africa, perennial continental power Nigeria, who easily could have beaten eventual U-19 world champion Germany in the quarterfinals in Thailand, should once again qualify. With a second African team being including in a FIFA youth women’s world championship for the first time as the tournament moves from 12 to 16 teams in 2006, count on the Black Queens of Ghana or the Bafana Bafana of South Africa to battle for that second berth. The Asian spots are wide open, with Australia, China, South Korea, North Korea and Japan all having the talent to make it to Russia. In fact, it was Japan that handed the U.S. U-19s their first-ever loss at that age level in 2004, but then failed to qualify for the world championship in Thailand.

2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship Berths
Confederation      Teams

Asia                           3
Africa                         2
CONCACAF             USA, Canada, Mexico/Jamaica
South America        Brazil, Argentina
Oceania                   1
Europe                     Germany, France, Finland and Switzerland
Host                         Russia

Stat of Note:
The youngest player on the U.S. roster is midfielder/forward Kelley O’Hara, who just turned 17 last August 4. Canada has two 16-year-olds on its roster and one 15-year-old in forward Paige Adams.

Quote of the Week:
U.S. defender Stephanie Logterman after watching midfielder Brittany Bock fly through the air, Super Girl style, to finish a diving header vs. Mexico:

“We’re gonna get you a cape next time.” is the official site of U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer in the United States.