U-20 World Cup roster hits Portland hardest

October, 27, 2008
There's still a lot of soccer to be played in determining which teams will make up the field of 64 for the NCAA tournament, but Monday brought some clarification on what some of the top teams will look like. With the release of the final United States roster for the Under-20 World Cup in Chile next month, 17 schools now know for sure they'll be without one or more stars when the collegiate postseason begins.

Here's the roster.

Goalkeepers: Chantel Jones (Virginia), Alyssa Naeher (Penn State), Cat Parkhill (Minnesota)
Defenders: Kiersten Dallsteam (Washington State), Kaley Fountain (Wake Forest), Lauren Fowlkes (Notre Dame), Liz Harkin (Arizona State), Meghan Klingenberg (North Carolina), Nikki Marshall (Colorado)
Midfielders: Gina DiMartino (Boston College), Becky Edwards (Florida State), Christine Nairn (Maryland), Elli Reed (Portland), Ingrid Wells (Georgetown), Keelin Winters (Portland)
Forwards: Michelle Enyeart (Portland), Sydney Leroux (UCLA), Alyssa Mautz (Texas A&M), Alex Morgan (California), Nikki Washington (North Carolina)

The final roster isn't drastically different from the one coach Tony DiCicco took to England in late summer, and most of the college teams affected have known this was coming for months -- in fact, Wells, Jones and Parkhill redshirted this fall in anticipation of the event.

Bad News
For obvious reasons of sheer quantity, Portland remains the team that takes the biggest hit. Enyeart and Reed have produced 20 percent of Portland's goals and 29 percent of its assists so far this season, and Winters is a dynamic presence in the middle of the field. The good news is there is still plenty of finishing and playmaking skill present with Sophie Schmidt, Megan Rapinoe and Danielle Foxhoven, among others.

Penn State has stormed back from a tough start to the season with dominant efforts on both ends of the field against Big Ten competition. The Nittany Lions are tied with Michigan State in goals scored in conference play (17) and have allowed a league-low three goals in nine games. But maintaining the latter will be more difficult without Naeher. Forced to scramble for postseason positioning, Penn State has leaned heavily on Naeher. Freshman backup Krissy Tribbett has just two starts this season.

Offense hasn't exactly been a weakness for a Cal team averaging a workable two goals per game, but it's not going to get any easier without Alex Morgan (nine of the team's 34 goals) and with a brutal close to the regular season that follows trips to USC and UCLA with a home game against Stanford.

Good News
North Carolina loses two key ingredients in Washington and Klingenberg, but keeping Casey Nogueira, a Hermann Trophy frontunner and one of the nation's leading scorers, clearly cements the Tar Heels as a favorite to reach the College Cup in nearby Cary, N.C.

Ironically, the top-10 team that comes out looking best may be the team getting standout performances from its youngest players. Stanford has last year's Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Christen Press (not exactly suffering from a sophomore slump with 10 goals and nine assists this season), and two leading candidates for this year's award in freshmen Lindsay Taylor (15 goals, three assists) and Teresa Noyola (six goals, eight assists).

Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.



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