Hooker, Kanu Compete with U.S. Under-21 National Team in Alabama

April 17, 2007

BERKELEY, Calif. - California junior Courtney Hooker and sophomore Nkechi Kanu were among 24 players named to the U.S. Under-21 National team roster for the 2007 Futbol Internacional Tournament. The event runs from April 22-28 at six venues throughout Alabama.

Both Golden Bear defenders are making their first appearances with the U.S. Under-21 National team. Hooker has experience with the U.S. Under-20 National team, including competing in camps in January and March 2006. This marks Kanu's first stint with the U.S. youth national team system.

Hooker started 21 of 22 games for Cal in 2006, helping her team record a 0.69 goals-against average and 12 shutouts. The Woodland Hills, Calif., product also posted an assist in Cal's first-round NCAA Tournament win over Auburn. Hooker was named second-team All-Pac-10 and second-team NSCAA and Soccer Buzz All-West Region last fall.

Kanu was also a dominant fixture on Cal's backline last season, earning honorable mention All-Pac-10 recognition. She started 19 of 20 games she entered last year. Late in the season, the Pleasanton, Calif., native saw time on the Bears' frontline, as well. In that role, she earned the game-winning assist in the sixth minute of overtime to give the Bears a 1-0 triumph over No. 4 Santa Clara during the final week of the regular season.

Seven of the 24 U.S. Under-21 players compete for Pac-10 teams.

The six-team, nine-match tournament next week features the U.S. U-21s, China's U-21s and Trinidad & Tobago's full Women's National team in Bracket A, while the full Women's National team of Argentina joins Canada's Olympic Development team, and Mexico's U-21s in Bracket B. Canada, which is currently preparing for the XV Pan American Games Rio 2007 in July and the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 in September, will send a mixed team of national team veterans and youth team prospects to the tournament.

The two group winners will play for the championship, the second-place finishers will play for third and the third-place finishers in each group will meet for fifth place.

The U.S. team, led by head coach Bill Irwin, will open play on April 22 against China's U-21s at Legion Field in Birmingham. The USA will also play T&T on April 24 at the Alabama A&M Football Stadium in Huntsville. The placement matches will be held on April 28 at Baker High School Stadium in Mobile. These will mark the first international matches of the year for the U.S. U-21s, which are preparing for the annual Nordic Cup, which will be held in Finland this year from July 18-24.

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