U.S. Women Prepare for First Match Against Australia on April 27
The U.S. Women’s National Team has played in three tournaments in three different countries on three different continents so far in 2008, but will finally get to play matches on home soil as the team enters a three-game series of domestic games, starting against Australia on Sunday, April 27 at 7 p.m. ET.
April 26, 2008
United States Women’s National Team
USA vs. Australia
April 27 – WakeMed Soccer Park – Cary, N.C.
AFTER 11 MATCHES ABROAD, USA FINALLY COMES HOME: The U.S. Women’s National Team has played in three tournaments in three different countries on three different continents so far in 2008, but will finally get to play matches on home soil as the team enters a three-game series of domestic games, starting against Australia on Sunday, April 27 at 7 p.m. ET. The USA has not played a home game in a half year, since Oct. 20, 2007, the final match of that year and the last of a three-game set vs. Mexico that followed the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The USA heads into the two-leg series vs. Australia and the one-off game with Canada carrying a 10-0-1 record so far which includes tournament titles at the Four Nations in China in January, the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March and the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico in early April. Those 11 games encompass the career so far of U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage, who will be coaching her first matches for the USA inside the United States. Fans can follow the USA-Australia match live online at ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
2008 Women’s National Team Domestic Games
Date Opponent Venue (City) Kickoff
April 27 Australia WakeMed Park (Cary, N.C.) 7 p.m. ET
May 3 Australia Legion Field (Birmingham, Ala.) 4 p.m. CT Live on Fox Soccer Channel
May 10 Canada RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.) 7 p.m. ET
OLYMPIC BERTH IN HAND, DRAW DONE, USA PREPARES FOR CHINA: After facing some challenging games at the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico in early April and coming through in all of them, the USA earned its berth to the 2008 Olympics as one of 12 teams that will compete for gold. After the draw on April 20, the U.S. now knows the teams and venues for the opening round, which commences on Aug. 6, two days before the official Opening Ceremonies. The USA also knows that to actually play a game in Beijing, it must advance at least to the semifinal as one semi, and the gold and bronze medal matches will be played at Workers’ Stadium in China’s capital. The 2008 Olympic Women’s Soccer tournament will be staged from Aug. 6-21 in five Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang and Qinhuangdao.
USA FIRST-ROUND OLYMPIC WOMEN’S SOCCER SCHEDULE
Date Opponent Venue Kickoff
Aug. 6 Norway Qinhuangdao (Olympic Sports Center Stadium) 7:45 p.m. local / 7:45 a.m. ET
Aug. 9 Japan Qinhuangdao (Olympic Sports Center Stadium) 5 p.m. local / 5 a.m. ET
Aug. 12 New Zealand Shenyang (Olympic Sports Center Stadium) 7:45 p.m. local / 7:45 a.m. ET
12 TEAMS, THREE MEDALS: With Brazil’s dominating and predictable 5-1 win over Ghana in the play-off match for the final berth in the Olympics that occurred the day before the Final Draw, the 12 teams for the Olympic women’s soccer competition were confirmed. This will be the first year that the Olympic women’s soccer tournament features a 12-team format (the same as the 1991 and 1995 Women’s World Cups) after the 1996 and 2000 Olympics featured eight teams and the 2004 tournament consisted of an unwieldy and awkward 10 teams, forcing several countries (including the USA) to play one more first round match than the others. While there were few surprises during qualifying, a full 25 percent of the field will be playing in the Olympics for the first time in North Korea, Canada, New Zealand and Argentina.
2008 Beijing Olympics Berths by Confederation (Previous Olympic experience)
Host: China (1996, 2000, 2004)
Africa: Nigeria (2000, 2004)
Asia: Japan (2004), North Korea (None)
Europe: Germany (1996, 2000, 2004), Norway (1996, 2000), Sweden (1996, 2004)
CONCACAF: USA (1996, 2000, 2004), Canada (None)
Oceania: New Zealand (None)
South America: Argentina (None), Brazil (1996, 2000, 2004)
GOALS FROM ALL OVER: The U.S. women have scored 34 goals so far this year and an extremely positive trend is that those goals have come from 10 different players. Three players have six goals each in Lindsay Tarpley, Abby Wambach and Natasha Kai. The 34 goals also included first-ever scores at the full international level from forward Amy Rodriguez, and midfielders Tobin Heath and Angie Woznuk. Fifteen different players have assists. The offensive impact from all over the field is a trend that U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage would like to see continue, as it makes the USA’s more unpredictable and dangerous with different combinations of players in different formations.
GAME READY: There are 25 players training with the USA on this three-week road trip and U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage will name 18 to suit up for each of the three matches. Aussie Head coach Tom Sermanni will have to pair two players to make an 18-player game roster.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.)
DEFENDERS (9): Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.), Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), Keeley Dowling (Carmel, Ind.), Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Heather Mitts (Cincinnati, Ohio), Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.), India Trotter (Plantation, Fla.), Cat Whitehill (Birmingham, Ala.)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis.), Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.), Kacey White (Arlington, Texas)
FORWARDS (5): Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.), Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.).
Australia Women’s National Team Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Melissa Barbieri, 18-Lydia Williams
DEFENDERS (8): 2-Kate McShea, 3-Karla Reuter, 4-Dianne Alagich, 5-Cheryl Salisbury, 6-Amber Neilson, 11-Clare Polkinghorne, 16-Lauren Colthorpe, 19-Kim Carroll
MIDFIELDERS (6): 7-Heather Garriock, 10-Joanne Peters, 13-Amy Chapman, 14-Collette McCallum, 15-Sally Shipard, 20-Joanne Burgess
FORWARDS (4): 8-Caitlin Munoz, 9-Sarah Walsh, 12-Kate Gill, 17-Kyah Simon.
OPPONENT CAPSULE: Australia
Current FIFA World Ranking: 12
2007 WWC Results: Ghana (4-1 W), Norway (1-1 T), Canada (2-2 T), Brazil (2-3 L)
Overall Record vs. USA: 0-16-2
Last Meeting vs. USA: Oct. 31, 2006 (2-0 U.S. win at the Peace Queen Cup in Cheonan, South Korea)
Head Coach: Tom Sermanni
Key Players: GK Melissa Barbieri, D Kate McShea, D Dianne Alagich, D Cheryl Salisbury, M Heather Garriock, F Caitlin Munoz, F Sarah Walsh, M Joanne Peters, F Kate Gill, M Sally Shipard.
USA vs. Australia Fast Facts: The USA and Australia met most recently during the 2006 Peace Queen Cup in South Korea, a match that produced a hard-fought 2-0 win for the USA on nice finishes from Kristine Lilly and Natasha Kai … The match marked Kai’s first-ever start … Prior to the USA’s victory at the PQC, the teams had tied the previous two games, including a 1-1 draw at the 2004 Olympics … Australia head coach Tom Sermanni was an influential coach in the WUSA for all three seasons of its existence, serving as an assistant coach for the San Jose CyberRays for the first two seasons before becoming the head coach for the New York Power during season three … Australia had an excellent run at the 2007 World Cup in China, going undefeated in group play with one win and two ties before giving Brazil a tough match in the quarterfinal … One of Australia’s best players at the WWC – forward Lisa De Vanna – is not on the roster as she is playing for her club in Sweden … Australia features one of the world’s veteran defenders in Cheryl Salisbury, one of the few players in the world who can match Abby Wambach in size and strength, although perhaps not in speed … Salisbury played in the WUSA as did defender Dianne Alagich and midfielder Joanne Peters … Salisbury has the most goals of anyone on the roster with 36, but Sarah Walsh and Kate Gill each have 25 and Peters has 28 … Heather Garriock, who will receive her 100th cap in Cary, has 14 career goals … The 25-year-old from Sydney will be the youngest to ever earn 100 caps for her country, joining teammates Cheryl Salisbury and Joanne Peters, as well as retired defender Anissa Tann in the 100-cap club … Australia was unfortunate to draw North Korea in its qualifying group for the 2008 Olympics (Australia moved from Oceania to the Asian confederation a few years ago, moving the task of qualifying for FIFA tournaments from almost automatic to very challenging) and then lost both games by 2-0 scores … Australia and North Korea both poured in goals during Olympic qualifying on the hapless Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong (87 in eight games!), but when push came to shove, North Korea pushed and shoved the Aussies out of the Olympics … With no Olympics to prepare for Australia has played just three matches so far this year, all against New Zealand in early March, winning 2-0, 2-1 and 4-2 … Still, Australia is preparing for the 2008 Asian Women’s Cup in Vietnam in late May and early June where the Matildas will be grouped with Japan, South Korea and Chinese Taipei in the eight-team tournament … The USA and Australia will meet again in mid-June during group play at the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea … Teenage striker Kyah Simon is of Aboriginal decent … 16 of the 21 players from Australia’s World Cup Team are on the roster for these matches … The USA’s 1-1 tie with Australia at the 2004 Olympics did not feature Abby Wambach, who was suspended for the match … The USA’s 9-1 win over Australia in June of 1997 marked the highest goal total ever for the USA against a team outside of CONCACAF or not named Chinese Taipei … Matilda midfielder Sally Shipard is from Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, which sits along the Murrumbidgee River.
U.S. WNT Quote Sheet
U.S. Defender Cat Whitehill
“I think Australia is an incredible team. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t qualify for the Olympics this year, but in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, almost beating Brazil, it shows they are really putting effort into the women’s game.”
On a shifting focus after Olympic qualifying:
“There’s a huge relief now that we’ve qualified for the Olympics. We had a meeting last night and now our focus is peaking at the right moment, in August at the Olympics and getting ready for group play. Right now, we are going to work really hard in April and May and then in June begin to taper to our final peak in August.”
U.S. Midfielder Heather O’Reilly:
On the near future for the team:
“It’s was great that we qualified, a big relief, and now over the next couple months we are working on improving and growing in several areas under Pia’s leadership. Obviously, we want to win every one of these domestic matches, but mostly it’s about improving and reaching our potential come August.”
On the match:
“Australia is going to come in really excited to play. They are not going to Olympics so this is really a chance for them to play and compete.”
Australia Head Coach Tom Sermanni
On his roster:
"There are five changes from our World Cup squad for this tour so to some degree we are rebuilding the depth across the squad.”
On a goal for the two-game series:
"This is another opportunity for some of the fringe players of the last few years to cement their place in the team. It is important that we continually improve and refine our play whilst at the same time continue to build towards our next World Cup campaign."
USA UNBEATEN IN CARY: The U.S. Women’s National Team has played three matches at WakeMed Soccer Park (formerly SAS Soccer Park) in its history, two at the 2002 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup and then a third against Canada in July of 2006, going unbeaten and un-scored upon in all three matches. The American women have not been back to North Carolina since that 2-0 victory over Canada, but U.S. Soccer has had a strong presence here as the U.S. MNT conducted its pre-tournaments preparations for the 2006 World Cup in Cary. In the firs two games in Cary, the USA won both games by 4-0 scores over Australia and Italy. Australia was actually the USA’s opponent during its first-ever game in Cary. U.S. forward Heather O’Reilly scored her first goal for the senior National Team on Oct. 6, 2002 against the Italians. The USA has actually played nine total matches in North Carolina, three in Cary, two in Charlotte, three in Davidson and one in Greensboro, and has never lost in the state, compiling a record of 8-0-1.
CAROLINA CONNECTION: The U.S. Women’s National team has deep ties with North Carolina as numerous Women’s National Team players have played at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, as well as several at North Carolina State and Duke. Of course, long-time UNC head coach Anson Dorrance was one of the founders of the WNT program, leading the USA to the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup title. On the current team there are six players with Tar Heel connections. Defenders Cat Whitehill and Lori Chalupny, midfielders Lindsay Tarpley and Kacey White and forward Heather O’Reilly all were stars at UNC. Midfielder Tobin Heath has two college seasons left in Chapel Hill and is one of the top college players in the country. Former U.S. captain Kristine Lilly also attended UNC, graduating in 1993. Some of the most legendary players in U.S. history played their college ball at UNC, including Mia Hamm, Tisha Venturini, Carla Overbeck and Cindy Parlow. Other UNC alumni who are in the top-20 in all-time in caps for the USA are Lorrie Fair and Tiffany Roberts.
Stat of Note
The USA has played Australia in Taiwan, Canada, Sweden, Greece, the United States and Australia.