May 12, 2003
The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team will embark on a four-game tour of Brazil in mid-May as Chris Petrucelli takes his first trip abroad as head coach of the U-21s. The tour will serve as preparation for the 2003 Nordic Cup, the most important competition in the world for U-21 women, taking place in Denmark from July 21-27, 2003. Bronco sophomore Leslie Osborne was named to the roster.
The USA opens the Brazil tour on Saturday, May 17, vs. Santos FC, the current Sao Paulo state champion. The USA will play its second match of the tour on May 19 against the Brazilian U21 National Team. On May 22, the USA will take on Saad FC, a top club in Brazil that has featured some legendary Brazilian players, including WUSA stars Sissi and Kátia of the San Jose CyberRays, and currently fields a handful of domestic-based national team players. Saad was three times Brazilian champion and is coached by former Brazilian National Team coaches Ademar Júnior and José Duarte, who led Brazil in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. The USA will finish the tour on May 25, against a Brazilian National Team featuring U21 and senior players. All the matches will be played in Sao Paulo.
It will be the first international tour for the U.S. U21s since last year's Nordic Cup in Finland, and the first tour of Brazil for a U.S. women's team since December of 1997 when the full U.S. Women's National Team split a pair of games with Brazil.
"It's a good trip for us because it gives us a chance to organize our team against quality opponents," said Petrucelli. "We will be challenged by the Brazilian style and speed of play, but we've got a talented team and we're confident in our ability to compete against older players."
Petrucelli's 18-player roster is loaded with college soccer's top talent and includes five players from the USA's 2002 FIFA U19 World Championship team that defeated Canada, 1-0, in sudden death overtime on Sept. 1, 2002, in front of almost 50,000 fans in Edmonton. Those players are goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (Indialantic Force), defender Amy Steadman (UNC), midfielder Osborne, and forwards Manya Makoski (Arizona State) and Kelly Wilson (Texas). Several other former U19 world champions, including forwards Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O'Reilly and midfielder Lori Chalupny are also in the mix for the Nordic Cup team, but will not travel to Brazil.
The Nordic Cup has been contested in northern Europe every summer since 1990 and was a U20 competition until 1997, when it moved to U21. The USA won its first Nordic Cup in 1997, lost in the championship game to Norway the next year, and has since reeled off an unprecedented four straight titles. The USA defeated Norway (1999), Germany (2000), Sweden (2001) and Germany (2002) in the respective championship games. This year's Nordic Cup has an age limit of players born after Jan. 1, 1982, but each team is allowed two overage players. Petrucelli will take overage players Ally Marquand and Nicole Barnhart to Brazil.
"The team is starting to take shape," said Petrucelli. "We've had close to 50 different players in camp since January and we are getting closer to a team of 18 players gelling and become a tight-knit unit. These games will be great opportunity to develop that cohesiveness even more."
Courtesy of U.S. Soccer. Please Click Here for complete story and roster.