Vanessa DiBernardo Named to U.S.A. U-20 World Cup RosterAugust 3, 2012
CHICAGO, Ill. - This afternoon, United States Soccer U-20 head coach Steve Swanson announced junior midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo to the 2012 World Cup roster in Japan. In addition, Illini coach Janet Rayfield will join her All-American as she resumes her position with the national squad as assistant coach. DiBernardo is one of six midfielders and 21 total players selected to compete for the World Championship starting August 19.
"The international arena has challenged Vanessa in new ways, as it has to everyone on the team and staff, which is one of the reasons that this is such a great experience for everyone," said Rayfield. "Vanessa has met the challenge with an incredible physical dimension of both speed and aerobic fitness, partnered with her technical ability to handle the ball. These are the tools needed by a midfielder at the international level. Her play making ability has been tremendous and will be significant in our quest for the World Championship."
DiBernardo has plenty of experience playing with the national team. In March, she recorded two goals and an assist in five games with the U-20 squad during CONCACAF qualifying in Panama. The reigning Big Ten Midfielder of the Year also notched a pair of assists in a 5-0 friendly victory against New Zealand in May. Furthermore, she travelled to Japan for a pair of friendlies in July before completing a two-week training camp in Florida with the team at the end of the month.
"Overall, this is a talented group of players with a good blend of technical ability , creativity, unselfishness and teamwork," said Swanson. "This team is truly representative of the entire nation, not only in terms of geography but also in the fact that so many quality coaches and teachers have helped develop these players through, club, high school and college soccer along the way."
Rayfield will also make the trip to Japan as she once again joins Swanson's coaching staff. The 2011 Coach of the Year adds her attacking expertise to the group as she often works with the forwards and midfielders in the functional sessions during their training. In addition, Rayfield has focused on the the physiological preparation, using the heart rate monitor experience that was developed here at Illinois.
Team USA will face Ghana, China and Germany in Group D. The U-20 squad's first two matches are at the Hiroshima Big Arch Stadium in Hiroshima, opening its tournament on Aug. 20 against Ghana at 4 p.m. local time (2 a.m. CT) before squaring off with China on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. local time (5 a.m. CT). DiBernado and the rest of the squad complete group play at Miyagi Stadium in Rifu against Germany on Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. local time (2 a.m. CT). The quarterfinal knockout stage begins August 30 with the World Cup final taking place Sept. 8 in Tokyo.
Several college programs around the United States will experience the loss of quality players and coaches to the World Cup squad. However, Rayfield and the rest of the Illini coaching staff plan on a seamless transition that involves plenty of communication spanning across the globe.
"The time difference will make it challenging but we will exchange constant texts and emails to make sure that we all stay on the same page throughout this time," stated Rayfield. "The U-20 squad is a team full of college players and a staff full of college coaches, so we will all be very in tune with what is happening in the world of women's college soccer."