World Cup mania remains alive and well, at least for the United States Under-20 Women's World Cup National Team.
Palo Alto grad and Stanford junior Teresa Noyola and Stanford sophomores Courtney Verloo and Rachel Quon are all part of the 21-player traveling roster that will compete for the Under-20 World Cup beginning Wednesday in Dresden, Germany.
The Americans have been in historic Dresden since last Wednesday, preparing for its first match against Ghana at Rudolf-Harbig Stadium. The U.S. also plays Switzerland there in a preliminary match on Saturday before moving on to Bielefeld to complete the first round against the Korea Republic on July 21.
"I think it's an exciting draw because these are teams that we haven't played, it's a bit of an unknown," U.S. (and UCLA) coach Jillian Ellis said. "There are no preconceived thoughts about these opponents. We know we have to prepare well and focus on ourselves. They are all very different kinds of teams from different regions and that represent different challenges and different strengths."
The USA won the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championships in Guatemala in January, with Noyola and Quon playing important roles. Sixteen of the 21 current players participated in CONCACAF qualifying. Verloo was among those who were added to the roster afterward.
The 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup will consist of 16 nations placed into four groups of four teams. Each team will play three matches in the group in a round-robin format with the top two teams in each group advancing to the quarterfinals. The tournament then becomes a knockout competition.
"We certainly have a great tradition and history with the U.S. women, but these current players are starting at the same point as all fifteen other teams," Ellis said. "They want to leave their mark and win a championship. Every team wants to be playing on the last day, and we are no different, but this U-20 team is a new team, with new goals and new aspirations."
All the group matches will be played as doubleheaders. All of the quarterfinals and semifinals are stand-alone matches while the third-place match and final will be played back-to-back on Aug. 1 in Bielefeld. The tournament consists of 32 total matches.
The U.S. Under-17 National Team, meanwhile, is 8-0-1 this season with Sacred Heart Prep senior Abby Dahlkemper being one of the mainstays.
Dahlkemper has started eight matches and provided two assists from her defensive position. She has started all seven international matches and played 657 minutes, which ranks second on the team.