Thursday, December 11, 2008

Goal of the Tournament Nominee!

Be sure to vote for Alex Morgan's first-half strike against Korea DPR in the Final for the Goal of the Tournament!! You can watch her upper-90 shot (and all of the other nominees) by clicking here:

A Word from Coach DiCicco

Now that we've all gone our separate ways, it's time to wrap up the U-20 WWC Blog. We don't think we could have summed up this tournament better than coach DiCicco, so in his words...

This team won for a bunch of reasons but one key reason was how close this team became. There were 20 sisters fighting for each other and it did not matter if you played or not…you were important and supportive. The staff was also totally tied into our vision and dream. You just don’t beat the world unless you have that component!

From a technical standpoint, we won because we were the best defensive team in the tournament. We gave up three goals and two were in one game (0-2 lost to China). In that game, I started six different players because we had already qualified for the quarterfinals and unless we lost big and France won big would still win our group. By resting players who had played a lot of minutes and protecting players from getting their second yellow card and having to sit a game; we shortened the tournament from six games to five games for key players and that helped in the Final.

We also won because we had two strikers that played their best soccer at the right time. Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan scored 10 of our 12 goals and that is a very serious 1-2 punch to our opponents. In the Final against North Korea…they each scored and that was what we needed to defeat an excellent North Korea team.

I am incredibly proud of them and they did what most experts didn’t give us much chance to do and that was to win the GOLD. We beat every team in the final four because we beat France in group play and then Germany and N. Korea in the semi-final and Final respectively.

When we got back to the hotel after the final our team met up with the Germans and the two teams had great fun together. The Germans were a class act even though we ended their Gold medal dream. They created a receiving line that our players passed through on the way to receive our Gold Medals.

By the way, the USA team collected the Gold Medal, the FIFA Fair Play Award, the Best Goalkeeper Award, the top and 2nd best player award (called the Golden and Silver Ball) and the top scorer and 3rd scorer award (the Golden Boot and Bronze Boot awards). Pretty impressive.

Tonight, we will fly on a red-eye; land in LA and everyone will rush to their gates. I have done this before and all of a sudden it hits you that, as a team, we will NEVER be together again. It will be emotional…but I will remind them that we are linked FOREVER and have changed each other’s lives for the best.

We should all be proud of this team…because they represent what makes America special. In their own way (through soccer) they showed the world that Americans are good people; respective; polite; hard working; creative and not to be easily dismissed or defeated. I love America and I love this team…

The 2008 FIFA U20 World Champions.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Michelle's New Set of Nails

It didn't take long for nail-painting champion of the U.S. team Michelle Enyeart to figure out the best way to declare her new-found world championship-ness... if you can read her nails in that photo they say WORLD CHAMP, a perfect fit.

Please Stow All Carry-On Luggage...

Well... there are just some things that you don't want to put in the overhead compartment and if you're Alyssa Naeher, the Golden Glove trophy is one of them. She seatbelted in with her for take off and landing, just in case.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Memory is a Memory (We Guess... )

This is Becky Edwards' leg. You might be wondering why we're blogging this scrape because it looks just like any other burn that one might get while playing on turf. However, not every burn is earned in a World Cup final, but this one is. That's why Becky actually wants this one to scar. Seriously. She's been scratching it so it leaves a permanent mark.

Chatting With Coutinho

As usual, the Brazil team has wowed the fans here at the Development Academy Winter Showcase with their great soccer. The fans undoubted favorite was Coutinho, who wore the number 10 for his country. His silky dribbling and great passing made him a total crowd-pleaser here in Lancaster. Oh, and he's also signed for Inter Milan. No biggie. We talked to Coutinho after Brazil's 4-1 win over Australia on Monday:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hot Streak

FC Dalls Juniors U-15/16 forward Ruben Luna today scored his 20th Development Academy League goal of the year. He has 16 goals in eight games with the U-15/16s, who are 8-0-1 in the Central Conference, Texas Division. Lun also scored four goals in the three Winter Showcase games, as his team beat the Baltimore Bays 2-0, handled Nomads 4-0, and tied 1-1 with Santa Cruz County Breakers.

Referee Spotlight at the Academy

As you probably know, the Development Academy isn't a benefit for players only. It is also playing a huge part in developing our nations refereeing corps. One of those referees, Jasen Anno, has moved up through the ranks to ref MLS games as well as internationals. We sat down with Jasen to learn more about how he's progressed through his officiating career:

New Clubs to the DA

Twelve new clubs have joined the Development Academy this year, which means that the 2008 Winter Showcase was their first showcase event. We asked a few players and coaches from the newest clubs to give us their thoughts on the weekend:

Some R&R Time

After visiting the Presidential papce, the team took the bus straight a good old fashioned barbeque that was organized by our amazing Team Liason Officer, Rosario, and her brother Martin - Martin pretty much served as Rosario's assistant for the final week of our journey.

Anyway, they took us to a friend's huge house and we had a great barbeque and we relaxed by their pool. It was some much needed down time where the girls basked in the sun and in their achievement!

A Special Tour

the team with Chile's Secretary of State

The U.S. ladies had two days to relax following their HUGE win on Sunday night and it was filled with pretty much everything we could have hoped for... we slept in, took a tour of the President's residence and did a few media appearances. Not only did we get a private tour of the residence, they were happy to open it especially for us because it was a national holiday here in Chile. Yea, these players are celebrities here.

New Episode of Studio 90

Head over to the front page at to catch the latest episode of Studio 90. What you'll see in this episode:

  • Highlights from USA/BRA and USA/AUS
  • In inside look at SPARQ testing with Jonathan Bornstein
  • Spotlight on MLS Referee Jasen Anno
  • Top Goals from this weekend at the Showcase

Weekend Winding Down

We're onto the final day of the 2008 Development Academy Winter Showcase here in Lancaster, Calif. Seventy-two games are taking place on Monday, and games kicked off as early as 8 a.m.

The U.S. U-17s have finished their schedule of games at the Nike International Friendlies, but there is still one game left between Australia and Brazil. That game kicks off at 1 p.m. PT.

We've collected the top goals from the weekend too - check them out here:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Photo Album

All weekend long the crack photographers from International Sports Images have been capturing shots both on and off the field. These are the same guys that shoot every match for the U.S. National Teams.

To look at all the images from the 2008 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase, click here.


What a night! Check out the hardware that the U.S. U-20 WNT took home tonight... there is the Fair Play Award, the Bronze Ball, the Bronze Boot, the Golden Ball, the Golden Boot, the Golden Glove and... oh what's that in the middle? That's a World Cup trophy!

Obviously we'll have much, much more on the celebration of tonight's championship victory over North Korea.

As if Sydney wasn't tired enough after 90 minutes, she had to lug around all those trophies afterwards...

Bornstein SPARQ-Tested

U.S. defender Jonathan Bornstein got put through the paces of Nike SPARQ testing this afternoon, going through the same evaluation offered to all Development Academy athletes. In two of the three tests, Johnny scored off the charts - literally. When he completed the agility test, the timer's quote: "The agility scores he got were by far the fastest I've ever seen!"

SPARQ, which stands for speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness, provides physical testing and training programs which are then used to provide an individualized program designed to provide meaningful training by addressing personalized areas of weakness and focus on areas of strength.

Watch Monday's edition of Studio 90 to check out Bornstein's performance.

A Day in the Life: Carmel United U-17/18

One of our videographers spent a day with Carmel United U-17/18s at the Development Academy Winter Showcase. We followed the team around at its pre-game meal, and then through the teams first game at the showcase:

In Focus: Focus Groups

Here at the Development Academy Winter Showcase, Nike is conducting a series of focus groups centered around the testing of new products. These include balls, shoes, socks and shinguards. The balls and shoes are double top secret though, so here's a sampling of the latest shinguards and socks being analyzed out here in Lancaster:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Goalkeeping Practical

The games are over here at the Lancaster, but the day's events aren't over. U.S. YNT Goalkeeper coach Tim Mulqueen is leading a goalkeeper practical out on the field, with many Academy coaches looking on. Coach Mulqueen is doing a series of drills that are designed to teach Academy coaches how to work with goalkeepers in the U-17/18 age groups:

Some Serious Scouts

The list of members of the U.S. National Team Scouting Network here in Lancaster is a who's who of current and former coaches and players. There are two MLS Cup champion coaches (Under 20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen and former Kansas City Wizards and U.S. National Team head coach Bob Gansler), a former MLS Cup champion player (Raul Diaz Arce), and a former U.S. World Cup team player and 1991 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year (Hugo Perez).

In addition to Rongen, there a dozen coaches who are current members of U.S. Youth National Team staffs.

Bottom line - in terms of experience and exposure for the Academy athletes, we've got it covered.

Shoe Trial

One of the most popular attractions at every Showcase is the Nike Boot Testing center, where players can borrow the latest Nike boots and take them for a test drive on the field during training, matches and SPARQ Testing. Available here for trial at the Winter Showcase are the Mercurial Vapor 4 - worn by current World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo - the T90 Laser II, Ronaldinho Dois, and the Air Legend II.

So if you're here in Lancaster, head on over to the Nike booth and wear what they wear!

Nike Selling Like Hotcakes

Sales are brisk at the Nike Shop on site here in Lancaster. The hottest item is the official Development Academy t-shirt, which is nearly selling out the first run. Don't worry, more on the way. Plenty of other things are moving, like U.S. National Team scarves, pint glasses and jackets. Even the Development Academy match balls are a big hit, as you can see Metro United's Ariel Godinez scooping up the last one and making sure everyone knows who it belongs to.

Development Academy: The Next Step

We sat down with John Hackworth, Technical Director of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, to get his thoughts on how the Academy has been progressing since its inception. Seriously, he answers every question ever about the DA. Make sure you watch:

Top 5 Goals from Friday

The first day of the Development Academy Winter Showcase is in the books, and with 74 games going on, you better believe there were a lot of goals. We gathered the Top 5 from Day 1 here:

College Cup Duel

Tomorrow, just before the U-20 Women take on North Korea for the World Cup title, a different championship will be on the line for some U.S. players. With two 1-0 wins on Friday evening, as Lauren Fowlkes’ Fighting Irish and Meghan Klingenberg and Nikki Washington’s Tar Heels are squaring off for the NCAA College Cup on Sunday just before the World Cup Final.

The Notre Dame vs. UNC match will kick off live at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and will be immediately followed by the USA-North Korea clash in Santiago.

Friday, December 5, 2008

USA Falls to Brazil; Rematch on Sunday

The U.S. U-17s fell to Brazil 3-0 this afternoon, with goals from Gerson and Coutinho (2) separating the sides. A spirited crowd watched the game, and players from many clubs wandered over to take in some international soccer. Unfortunately the result didn't go the right way for the U.S.. Just like in boxing though, there's always a chance for a rematch and in this case, we only have to wait two days! USA-BRA II will take place on this Sunday, with the weigh-in...errr... the pre-game show starting at 1:30 p.m. PT. The bell rings at 2 p.m. PT.

Pictures courtesy of

"Best Of" Down to the Wire

The 2008 Best Of U.S. Soccer Awards are reaching their scintillating climax. What tension! Here at the Development Academy Winter Showcase, players are casting their ballots for their favorites from 2008. In the Athletes Lounge, lots of players surveyed video evidence of the nominees before putting pen to paper to decide who they deemed most deserving of the award. You too can still vote on the 2008 Best Of Awards (but only until Sunday!). Check out the Best Of Blog here and cast your ballot!

Chivas USA and Chicago Fire Fight to 2-2 Draw

On short notice, Chivas USA and Chicago Fire took the field for a nationally televised game on FSC. The two sides delivered, putting in a sterling effort en route to a 2-2 draw.

The Fire had the best chance of the opening minutes, when the Fire's Atta Ozbay forced a good save out of Chivas goalkeeper Juan Quiroz from a free kick. The Fire dominated the early going but were caught out on the counter by Chivas. Cesar Zamora lead a counter attack in the 24th minute, streaking across midfield before feeding teammate Andy Lopez. Lopez took the ball at full speed before slotting home past the onrushing Jordan Maman in the Fire net.

Chicago pushed for an equalizer, and it came later in the first half. A quick free kick by Bryan Ciesiulka opened up the Chivas defense, and the Fire worked the ball around Andy Huftlain finished low to the far post in the 33rd minute.

The game looked to be heading for a deadlock at halftime, but a goalkeeping error lead resulted in Chivas taking the lead. The swirling Lancaster winds fooled Maman, and Chivas' Victor Sanchez Jr. capitalized to put the Goats one up at the break.

The Fire came out quickly in the second half, and just three minutes into the second period the scores were level. Huftlain grabbed his brace, rising highest to meet a teasing Joel Del Toro cross and head home past Quiroz.With the scores tied, both teams went forward for the win. The Fire were denied twice by the woodwork - once when Ciesulka's freekick rattled the cross bar, and again late on when Ian Christianson's shot came back off the upright. Chivas had chances of their own, but every time Maman was equal to the task. In the end the 2-2 draw was a fair result, and both teams left the field knowing they put in a good effort in their first game of the weekend.

Pictures courtesy of

A Visit from Sundhage

U.S. Women's National Team head coach Pia Sundhage made the very long journey from Sweden to Chile for the USA's semifinal game and will be here through Sunday's final match (then she'll fly straight to Los Angeles ahead of the WNT's Achieve Your Gold Tour game against China).

It was a post-game surprise for the U.S. players, who were properly introduced on the field after the victorty. Sundhage, who had to take a later flight to Santiago than the rest of the team, addressed the team a little more informally after dinner - first offering her congratulations on last night's win and then, in keeping with her tradition, singing a little bit. Her selection was a bit of a change from the standard Dylan - Tina Turner's Simply the Best.

We're obviously thrilled to have Pia as part of our team through Sunday!

Tune in on Sunday!

When word reached the team that Sunday's championship game will be show LIVE on ESPN2, we were on a bus heading back to the hotel after training. Ever seen a standing ovation on a bus? This isn't the first time the crowd has gone wild on board our beautiful bus, but it's always fun when it happens!

So bottom line: be sure to tune in on Sunday for a Women's Soccer double header. You can catch the NCAA College Cup final at 2 p.m. ET and then the USA-North Korea World Cup Final at 4:30 p.m. ET!

Population Influx

The Lancaster/Palmdale area has been overtaken by youth soccer teams, as players around the country converge on local hotels and malls. The blog headed over to one of the team's hotels (filming a piece for an upcoming Studio 90) and found the place swarming with activity. FC Greater Boston Bolts, Carmel United and NYRB thronged around the meal room and lobby. Some teams were preparing to leave for their 10 a.m. games, while others were getting a meal in a few hours before a noon kickoff. The hotel staff looks a bit stunned, but they're coping with the commotion pretty well. We'll see how things are holding up closer to Day 4.

Development Academy Winter Showcase Underway

The 2008 Development Academy Winter showcase is underway at the Lancaster National Soccer Center in Lancaster, Calif. In two games last night, the LA Galaxy defeated North Meck 1-0 in the U-15/16 age group. In the U-17/18 age group, the Galaxy beat North Meck 4-1 under the lights.

The Studio 90 crew was there to catch the action, and you can see the latest episode over at We'll be back throughout the day, as the first set of games kicked off here at 10 a.m.Pictures courtesy of

We're Going to the 'Ship!

No rest for the... well, we're all relatively un-weary. But regardless, the team took a flight in the morning from Coquimbo to Santiago where they'll have just two days to prepare for the Final game against North Korea.

The USA and Germany shared the same flight, so everyone was able to forget the differences from last night and actually made friends.

As a side note: If you can afford to live anywhere in the world, we suggest gaining employment at the La Serena airport. Are there any other airports in the world that don't open before 11 a.m.?

Anyway.... here is the beautiful view of the Andes that we had for the entire 40 minute flight. They are really, really big.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Keelin on the Mic

Before kickoff tonight, the USA and Germany will recognize FIFA's Anti-Discrimination Day. In order to try to eradicate racism in football across the world.

U.S. captain Keelin Winters and the German captain will each read a statement to the crowd at tonight's match - don't worry, Keelin will read it in English. Then the two teams will get together for a photo behind an Anti-Racism banner.

Did You Know...

That German head coach Maren Meinert played for the Boston Breakers - the team that U.S. coach Tony DiCicco currently manages.

Of course, Tony coached against Maren when she was a player, most notably in the quarterfinal of the 1999 WWC, won by the USA by a 3-2 score....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Rivalry Continues

This match will mark the ninth time the USA and Germany have met in a knockout round game at a FIFA Women’s World Cup or an Olympics, but amazingly the two countries have never met in a final. Of the previous eight meetings, six have been in semifinals and two were in the quarterfinals. The USA holds a 6-2 record in these knockout round games.

Prior to the USA’s 2-1 victory over Germany in the semifinal of the 2008 FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and subsequent loss to North Korea in the final, the winner of the semifinal meeting had always gone on to win the championship.

The USA has met Germany in two U-19 Women’s World Cup semifinals (2002 in Canada a 4-1 U.S. win and 2004 in Thailand, a 3-1 Germany win) and one U-20 Women’s World Cup quarterfinal (2006 in Russia, a 4-1 U.S. win).

Tonight's match between the two most successful women’s soccer countries in the world will mark the ninth meeting in the 14 FIFA world championships that have been contested.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Stars and Stripes

Since we're sharing a hotel with Germany, we felt it would be important to make sure we had our flag flying on our half of the hotel - just in case there was any confusion. The rooms here, as you can see, have really nice balconies that overlook the pool on the second floor... gives it a little bit of an Olympic Village feel we think!

Nice View

The U-20 WNT just wanted to give you a shout out to those of you in the northern part of the United States. It's summer here and as you can see, our hotel in La Serena is steps from the Pacific Ocean. The team made the short walk to the beach to catch a glimpse of the beautiful sunset before coming back to finish up some homework and call it a night.

It's Cold in There

Sometimes you gotta improvise and in La Serena, that means we're using trash bins as cold tubs. Below you can see Lauren Fowlkes shivering, but recovering and getting ready for Germany! The tubs still do their job and that's really the most important thing!

Monday, December 1, 2008

At Home in La Serena

It was home sweet home for the U-20 WNT as we pulled up to a very familiar hotel in La Serena... It's the same accommodations the team used back in February during the Four Nations Tournament and they're looking for a similar result here in December. The players were cheering and hugging the owner of the beautiful boutique hotel as we pulled in... similar to the way we pulled back in to Chillan.

The U.S. won the Four Nations with three straight wins over Norway (2-1), England (1-0) and host Chile (5-1) at Estadio La Portada, a short drive from the newly renovated Estadio Francisco Sanchez Rumoroso.

To recap the Four Nations Tournament, you can click here. Y

Bring on Germany

We're all settled into our hotel in La Serena, anxiously awaiting the arrival of tonight's quarterfinal winner: Germany. The team gathered together in a main room here at the hotel to watch the game on a big screen projector. It's getting more real now that we have a semifinal opponent!

Welcome to La Serena!

When was the last time you were greeted at the airport like this? Needless to say, this very warm reception at the La Serena airport - right near Coqiumbo - made the team feel right at home ahead of their semifinal battle. Above you can see Alyssa Mautz, Alex Morgan and Meghan Klingenberg learn a traditional Chilean dance right at the airport. The team was also greeted by the mayor of Coquimbo before picking up their checked bags.

It also made the wait for our luggage much more fun!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

France Advances

The USA's first Group B opponent here in Chile has secured the first semifinal berth - France downed Group A winner Nigeria, 3-2, in today's first quarterfinal.

France took the lead in just the second minute, but Nigeria battled back to tie it in the 13th and take the lead before halftime. Just four minutes into the second half, France leveled the score at two goals apiece to set up Nora Coton-Pelagie for what has to be the goal of her life so far. She wound up just inside the corner of the penalty area and hit a cracker just inside the far post in the 88th minute to get her team to the semis.

Hopefully in a few hours, two teams will have secured a place in the final four....

In the mean time, the fine folks at Estadio Nelson Oyarzun are treating us to some vintage Michael Jackson tunes. We can't think of a better song to get a bunch of 20 year old players fired up than "Beat It".

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Today the team had a special screening of the new James Bond movie Quantum of Solace ... the theater invited them over for an afternoon viewing where they were the only people in the theater. There were mixed reviews...

Some liked the non-stop action... others would have preferred a little more dialogue.

The interesting thing about watching films in foreign countries: the sound is English, but there are Spanish subtitles. This was great for us until the people in the movie started speaking in Spanish or Russian! Then everyone was a little lost because there were either no subtitles, or Spanish subtitles for Russian dialogue.

Either way, it was a really nice gesture from the local mall and theater... we wish we could play all of our games here in Chillan!

The Road to Redemption

Today after lunch, the team took a few moments to think about where they stand right now and what might lie ahead. After a wonderful (and mostly funny) poem written and performed by assistant coach Tom Stone, the players and staff watched part of the Road to Redemption - a video produced about the Gold Medal Winning 2008 USA Basketball team. If you check out the clip above, you can see why there wasn't a dry eye in the room....

Friday, November 28, 2008

Regresaramos a Chillan

"It feels like a home game"

That was the general consensus today as the U.S. team pulled up to the hotel that we loved so much in Chillan. We got off the highway after the three hour drive from Temuco and started seeing the familiar sights ... then we got the same warm reception that we did the first time - actually if it's possible, it might have been warmer the second time.

Everyone is in the same rooms as we were before. It really feels like this is our home and Temuco was an away game! We just want to make sure we get the same results as we did here at Estadio Nelson Oryuzan!

The Story of Thanksgiving

We've finally gotten back to good internet here in Chillan, so we thought we'd share some of last nights "talents" from the post-Thanksgiving dinner Talent Show. Meghan Klingenberg and Keelin Winters - of Guest Blog fame - told the story of Thanksgiving... sort of.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Group of Death, Perhaps?

While every team at the event is tough, it's hard to come up with a tougher first round than pitting Japan, Germany and Canada against each other along with Congo. Japan came out firing and won all three of their matches to take the top place in the group, but Germany and Canada squared off this evening to see who else would advance to the quarterfinals.

After our fabulous Thanksgiving dinner, the team gathered around a big screen to cheer for our neighbors, but our efforts didn't pay off. Incredibly, the CONCACAF Champions were eliminated after their 3-1 loss to Germany and will be heading back up north early.

The other team from our region to advance to Chile - Mexico - also suffered a first-round exit with three losses. So it's up to us to represent CONCACAF!

Thanksgiving in Chile!

Well, it wasn't quite like home, but it was close... the U-20 team had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration here in Temuco tonight, complete with family members, standard traditions and some improvisations.... There was also a talent portion of tonight's festivities and of course, hilarity ensued.

The players enjoying a meal with their second family

Mautz's talent was knocking a bottle off Alex's head with a slingshot and a gummy bear... needless to say, Alex got hit in the head a couple of times

Kaley and assistant coach Amanda Cromwell did the Worm... they even had a race

And what Thanksgiving is complete without football? Tonight we watched futbol AND American football

All said, it was a really nice night spent with those we love. And really, what more could we ask for? A special thanks to the hotel staff and all the players' families who helped make it feel like home tonight. The people in our hotel had a difficult time understanding what exactly we celebrate, but they were eager to learn! We think that has something to do with all the food we ate...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Security Blotter

There was a lot of action from our security detail today....

-Today at training, we had our first glimpse of two policemen on horseback. We don't think we even need to tell you that it created quite a stir among the team. Thankfully, we were able to make friends with the officers and they let us pet and even ride the horses! Don't worry, it more like a pony ride where they walked us around in a circle.

-Then on the way home from our stadium walk through, one of the police escorting us home was on a motorcycle and he got hit by an SUV! The SUV just crossed into an intersection that our new friend was blocking off and hit him hard enough to knock him and the bike completely over. It was a few minutes until we got to the hotel and could talk to him.

Don't worry - he's okay. He kept telling us 'no problema!' and didn't even have a scratch on him. It was amazing. Surely that wasn't the first time that's ever happened to him, but to not even have a scratch or bruise... That's why we're not police officers - we bruise easily.

Hola, Temuco

Today the team did a walk through at Estadio German Becker in their second venue - Temuco. Lots of "oohs" and "aaahs" as the team explored the pitch before tomorrow afternoon's game.
The coaches are happy that the bench and technical areas will be nicely covered in shade by game time. The players are happy that there should be a good crowd in the 18,000 seat stadium as our game is serving as the opening act of Chile's final game.

Practice Hard... don't have to tell these girls twice. This photo of Lauren Fowlkes leg was taken today at training, and it was from practice yesterday. Apparently she had a run in while defending Alex Morgan.

As bad as it looks in this picture, it still doesn't do justice to what are clearly cleat marks on Lauren's knee.

Where We Stand

The USA has already clinched a place in the knock-out phase of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, but there is still one Group B berth on the line on the final match day.. here is what we know:

  • The U.S. can clinch the top place in the group with a win or a tie against China OR a France tie or loss to Argentina
  • Should France win and the USA lose, the tie breakers would come into play to determine who would be the top team... here are the tiebreakers:
    -Goal Differential (currently: USA +6, France -1)
    -Goals Scored (currently USA 6, France 2)
    -Head to Head (USA 3, France 0) *this is as far as it could possibly go
For the second quarterfinal berth out of Group B:
  • France has the edge with three points heading into Wednesday's game after their win over China
  • Argentina and China both have one point, but... Argentina can take second place with a win over France. China can vault into second with a win, a French loss and some tiebreakers with Argentina.
By Thursday, we'll have it all sorted out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Warm Reception

Today the U-20 WNT was invited to the Consejo Ecologica Chillan, a small Nature Museum located not far from Estadio Nelson Oryuzan. We pulled up to the building with our big bus and a security contingent that consisted of no less than four armed policeman plus the people assigned to us full time - surely not a sight that the museum employees are used to. No matter, this is the reception we received getting off the bus by Lucy, the founder of the "consejo" who we later found out had a very impressive resume that included speaking at worldwide environmental summits.

Each player, including Elli Reed got a warm reception from Lucy as they got off the bus

The consejo was a place for underpriviledged children to come and create art while learning about the environment. There were some amazing paintings and other crafts made from recycled material and out back was a huge yard with a greenhouse and a big garden. They also had a stage that was set, and a trio performed some traditional Chilean dances just for us.

Before leaving, each player was invited to write a message on the stone wall in the back, and out front everyone added their handprint to the outside of the building.

Lauren Fowlkes, Kaley Fountain, Nikki Washington

Christine Nairn leaves her mark on the museum

It was a very nice change of pace... the team felt like they were in someone's home. Lucy emotionally told the girls how much it meant that they came to visit, and she had a hard time saying goodbye when we finally had to go. The feeling was definitely mutual. The girls felt like they'd just met a long lost grandmom who wanted nothing more than to take care of them.

And we're pretty sure that the young man teaching Kaley and Channy how to dance... well, he had about the best day of his life.

Who's Shaking the Bed?

Well... we just had a very small earthquake here in Chillan that really just felt like someone was shaking our beds and chairs. For several of the players it was their first-ever Earthquake, but a handful of California girls are old pros.

We heard initial reports that said the 'quake was stronger in Coquimbo, another World Cup... we hope everyone and everything is en tact over there.

Talk of the Town

Today, the front page story in all the newspapers in Chillan wasn't the USA's win over Argentina. That was a subhead of the photos you can see below:

U.S. Soccer's ace team of equipment managers somehow knew that the city of Chillan would be enraptured with the American girls, and created the sign you see above - nice job guys. Needless to say, it was a huge hit when it was unraveled after the post-game handshake. The crowd went absolutely wild, and as you can see from the headline, the city of Chillan thanked the girls right back.

Tomorrow we will make the three-hour bus ride to Temuco for the third game of Group B against China. There are many reasons we want to come away on top of the group - not the least of which is the opportunity to return to Chillan for the quarterfinals.