Ballweg, Osborne to Compete at U19 World Championships

Ballweg, Osborne to Compete at U19 World Championships

July 18, 2002

CHICAGO - U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team head coach Tracey Leone named Santa Clara University women's soccer standouts Jessica Ballweg and Leslie Osborne as two of the 27 players who are currently participating in a 13-day training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in San Diego, Calif., through July 26. Leone will pick the 18-woman roster from these 27 players for the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship, taking place in Canada from Aug. 17-Sept. 1, 2002.

The U.S. players are training daily and playing several scrimmages during the camp, all working towards earning a spot on the roster when the USA opens world championship play on Saturday, Aug. 17, against England at 1 p.m. PT in what will be the first match of the tournament. The USA will face Australia in its second opening round game on Monday, Aug. 19 at 7:15 p.m. and finish Group C play on Wednesday, Aug. 21 against Chinese Taipei (a.k.a. Taiwan) at 7:15 p.m. All of the USA's first round matches will be played at Centennial Stadium in Victoria, B.C.

"The purpose of this camp will be multifaceted," said Leone. "You have to have a balance between evaluation and honing the team for the tournament. This camp serves as one last evaluation of our pool before we pick our 18 players and alternates for Canada. It's also gives us one more chance to prepare the team and make sure we're tidy and sharp in all the key areas, technically, tactically and set plays."

Leone's team will feature some of the most talented young players in U.S. history, including numerous players with dynamic offensive and defensive talents. The U-19s feature several extremely creative and dangerous midfielders in Jill Oakes, who along with Heather O'Reilly, is training with the full Women's National Team this week, Lori Chalupny, a key player on last summer's U-21 Nordic Cup championship team along with Oakes, Leslie Osborne, one of the most physically dominating players in the world at this age level, and Manya Makoski, a slashing dribbler and non-stop runner. The U.S. will be bolstered by the return of defender and team captain Keeley Dowling, who missed the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament with an ankle injury. In addition, the USA features backs Jessica Ballweg and Kendall Fletcher, both world-class ball-winners with the ability to get forward into the attack.

The Americans break camp on July 27, but will regroup in Portland, Ore. for several days of training from Aug. 9-12 before heading up to Victoria, B.C., to begin final preparations for the world championship.

"After our trip to Europe, which was extremely productive, it's great to have a domestic camp before we pick our roster," added Leone. "This group is ready to be a team. The U.S. Soccer Federation has been so supportive of this effort and our preparation has been all we could have asked."

The U.S. players value their place in history as the first U.S. youth women's team to participate in a FIFA World Championship, but are also a group of young women who want to be role models for all the young female players in the USA, many of whom are not much younger than them. To that effect, the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team has formed a unique and unprecedented partnership with The Skin Cancer Foundation with the goal of raising awareness of a disease that affects over one million people a year in the United States. Through appearances and interaction at schools and interaction with the media, the U-19s have made it a team goal to inform the public that almost all skin cancers are preventable and curable when detected and treated early.

With skin cancer being the most common form of cancer in women age 25-29, and with most people having received 50 to 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure by the age of 18, the cause is close to the hearts of the U.S. U-19s who spend hours in the sun on soccer fields every year.