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U.S. WNT Set To Face Sweden In First Game of Two-Game Series

U.S. Women’s National Team
USA vs. Sweden
July 12, 2010

WOMEN’S WORLD POWERS CLASH IN NEBRASKA AND CONNECTICUT: The USA renews what has been an excellent rivalry with Sweden during two summer matches on July 13 at Creighton University’s Morrison Stadium (ESPN2 at 8 p.m. CT) and on July 17 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford (Fox Soccer Channel at 7:30 p.m. ET). With the USA ranked first in the current FIFA Women’s World Rankings and Sweden at fourth, U.S. fans will once again get to see two of the top women’s teams in the world square off on American soil. The two matches mark the first between the two countries in the United States since July 2006 when the Americans defeated Sweden 3-2 in sweltering Minnesota heat on a dramatic late goal from Kristine Lilly. The matches will be just the eighth and ninth international games for the U.S. women this year as preparations and player evaluations continue for CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying to be held in late October with dates and venues still to be determined. While U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage has called up 24 players, she will name 18 to suit up for both contests with the Swedes and could juggle the game roster between matches. Since coaching her first game for the United States in January of 2008, Pia Sundhage has compiled an overall record of 47-1-3 with the only loss in regulation time coming in the first game of the 2008 Olympics. She coached her 50th match for the USA in Sandy, Utah, on March 31 against Mexico, a wild 1-0 win played in ankle-deep snow.

U.S. WNT 2010 Schedule & Results

Date Opponent Result/Time U.S. Scorer(s)/TV Venue
Feb. 24 Iceland 2-0 W Own Goal, Cheney VR de SA, Portugal
Feb. 26 Norway 2-1 W Wambach (2) Olhao, Portugal
March 1  Sweden 2-0 W Cheney (2) Ferreiras, Portugal
March 3 Germany 3-2 W Lloyd, Wambach, Cheney Faro, Portugal
March 28 Mexico 3-0 W Rodriguez, Boxx, Cheney San Diego, Calif.
March 31 Mexico 1-0 W Wambach Sandy, Utah
May 22 Germany 4-0 W O’Reilly, Wambach (2), Lilly Cleveland, Ohio
July 13 Sweden 8 p.m. CT ESPN2 Omaha, Neb.
July 17 Sweden 7:30 p.m. ET FSC East Hartford, Conn.

EYE TOWARDS GERMANY: As the calendar moved to 2010, the focus of the U.S. WNT shifted to qualifying for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. The two-time defending champions, hosting on their own soil, will be favorites to hoist a third consecutive trophy, but the Americans will hopefully have something to say about that. There is no doubt, however, that the Germans will run a fantastic Women’s World Cup, scheduled for June 26-July 17, 2011, in nine cities spread out all over Germany: Berlin, Frankfurt, Mönchengladbach, Sinsheim, Wolfsburg, Augsburg, Bochum, Dresden and Leverkusen. Almost all of the cities will host four matches, but unlike past Women’s World Cups, there will be no doubleheaders. The largest stadium is in Berlin (74,244), which will host just the opening game featuring the Germans. The smallest stadium is in Bochum, which seats 23,691. The Women’s World Cup Final will take place in Frankfurt (49,240) on July 17. The dates and venues for CONCACAF qualifying have yet to be determined, but the competition will likely be held in late October/early November following the WPS season.

FIRST TIME TO NEBRASKA: The U.S. Women have played official international matches in 30 of the 50 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia. Nebraska will become the 31st state to host the WNT and it will come in one of the best college venues in the country at Creighton University. The USA has played few matches in the middle of the country, having never appeared in North or South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, and until now, Nebraska.

LILLY RETURNS TO CONNECTICUT: When the USA played Norway at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn., on July 14, 2007, in a warm-up match for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, many thought it would be the last game in a national team uniform for Kristine Lilly in her home state. Of course, the legendary Lilly is still going strong and the Wilton, Conn. native makes her return – once again – to East Hartford for the second match of this two-leg series. Lilly, 39, was brought back into the national team for two games against Mexico in late March and then scored her 130th career goal in the 4-0 victory against Germany on May 22. It was her first goal for the USA since October 2007. Lilly was already the oldest player ever to earn a cap for the U.S. Women’s National Team when she did so at 37 years, 145 days on Dec. 13, 2008 against China, but on March 28, 2010, against Mexico, she became the only player in U.S. history, and though unconfirmed, likely in world history, to appear for her national team in four different decades. Lilly came on in the 32nd minute and played the rest of the way, putting in some quality work on the left flank and almost scoring several times. Lilly earned 15 caps in the 1980s, 176 in the 1990s and 151 from 2000-2009. She now has three in 2010. The former U.S. captain is the second all-time leading scorer in world history with 130 goals and has played in five FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments, the most of any female player. Can she make it a sixth? Stay tuned.

WAMBACH RISING ON ALL-TIME GOAL SCORER LIST: Due to a remarkable confluence of circumstances, Abby Wambach got the unique opportunity to score her historic 100th career goal in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y. on July 19, 2009, at Marina Auto Stadium, and she came through in dramatic fashion, finding the net in the 78th minute of the USA’s 1-0 victory against Canada. It was Wambach’s first goal for the USA since breaking her leg in July of 2009, and she has scored seven more since, one against Germany in October of 2009 during the 1-0 victory in Augsburg, three at the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March, one more against Mexico in the now infamous Snow Game in Utah on March 31 and then two more against Germany on May 22 in Cleveland. Wambach has joined a quartet of U.S. Soccer legends in the elite 100-goal club: Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (130), Michelle Akers (105) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100). With her goals against Germany, Wambach passed legends Carolina Morace, currently the head coach of Canada, and Akers, and is within striking distance of Kristine Lilly, although the U.S. veteran’s recent call-ups have given her the chance to increase her total. With Germany’s Birgit Prinz (126) certainly playing at least through the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, she has a good chance to catch or pass Hamm, while Wambach would have some work to do to surpass 150 goals, especially with the national team schedule scaled back now due to WPS.

LePEILBET BOUNCES BACK, HIGH: Last summer U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage needed to take a look at some central defenders and called in Amy LePeilbet of the Boston Breakers for the match against Canada in May of 2009. The 28-year-old LePeilbet played very well in training and the game, getting the start in her first game for the USA since Sept. 13, 2006. LePeilbet earned 23 caps over 2004-2006, more than half of them in 2006 before she was felled by an ACL injury in July 2006 which wasn’t diagnosed until November. She had surgery in December of that year. She had come into one training camp before the Canada game but was still recovering from the surgery. Now, just over a year later, she has started 10 of the last 11 games for the USA (she had to sit out the Norway game in Portugal with a migraine) and in that time has emerged as a player who can perform at the highest levels in the biggest of games. With LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler, Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf available as center-backs, the U.S. looks to be well-stocked at the position for the run to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

MOMS RAMPONE AND MARKGRAF BACK WITH U.S. TEAM: Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf, two of the most capped defenders and players in U.S. history with 216 and 199 respectively, were the USA’s two starting center-backs on the 2008 Olympic gold medal winning team. If Markgraf plays in either Sweden game, she will become the seventh U.S. player to reach 200 career caps. Both central defenders returned to training with the USA for the Germany match in late May. It was their first appearance in camp since December of 2008 as both are coming back from their second pregnancies. Rampone gave birth to her second daughter on March 6 when Reece Elizabeth Rampone came into the world at seven pounds, two ounces and 17 inches. Although Rampone has yet to play for the USA since the birth of her child, these two matches could mark her return in a national team uniform as she has regained her fitness and has been playing for her WPS Club, Sky Blue FC. Rampone led the SBFC to the inaugural WPS championship, guiding the team through the playoffs as the captain and the head coach while almost three months pregnant. Markgraf gave birth to twins, Carson (girl) and Xavier (boy) in July 2009, forcing her to miss the inaugural WPS season, but has played every minute of 13 games for the Chicago Red Stars this season. Rampone last played for the USA on May 25, 2009 in a 4-0 win against Canada in Toronto, while Markgraf’s 28 minutes of action against Germany on May 22 were her first since playing in a 1-0 victory against China on December 13, 2008, in her hometown of Detroit during the early stages of her pregnancy. Both players certainly have experience coming back from pregnancy to play at the highest levels. Rampone took most of 2005 off to have her first child, daughter Rylie, who was born on Sept. 29 of that year. She made her return to the national team lineup just 112 days later against Norway at the Four Nations Tournament in China, starting and playing the first 67 minutes. Rampone led the USA in minutes played in 2008, logging a team-record 3,066 during the calendar year, and was tied for tops on the team in matches played with 35. Markgraf had her first son, Keegan, in July 2006, and had some physical challenges during her comeback but was ready to start for the USA in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

CAPTAINS ALL OVER: 2008 Olympic Team captain Christie Rampone gets another call-up for these matches as she continues to regain her fitness after giving birth to her second child in early March. In her absence, Shannon Boxx has captained the U.S. team. The U.S. roster is dotted with players who have captained the USA in the past, including Kristine Lilly, Kate Markgraf and Abby Wambach, but Boxx has worn the armband since Rampone announced her pregnancy last year. Boxx is the 11th player to be officially designated as a captain in the history of the U.S. Women’s National Team, joining, in chronological order: Denise Bender, April Heinrichs, Lori Henry, Michelle Akers, Carla Overbeck, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly, Christie Rampone and Lori Chalupny.

YOUNG ATTACKERS HOLD KEY: Abby Wambach figures to be a key player in the USA’s qualifying campaign for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and hopefully the run to Germany, but a gaggle of young attackers could also play key roles. Lauren Cheney had earned a few starts next to Wambach this year and is the second leading scorer in 2010 with five goals, but the blistering fast Amy Rodriguez has finally found her scoring stroke, pounding in seven goals so far during the WPS season, second only to Marta. Megan Rapinoe, who is mostly deployed as a flank midfielder, is back healthy and strong after playing against Germany on May 22, a match that was her first for the USA since July 22, 2009, following a patch of injury and illness that knocked her out of several events. Young flank midfielder/forward Kelley O’Hara is looking like the top rookie in WPS for FC Gold Pride, but has also had some injury issues and will be looking to get back into the swing of things during the Sweden matches. Tobin Heath is out for the foreseeable future after undergoing ankle surgery, but the ultra-talented flank player can impact games at the highest level. Should Heath return fully healthy in time for consideration for the World Cup, she will add even more firepower to the U.S. attack. Of course, Heather O’Reilly, still just 25 years old, has become a fixture for the USA at right midfield and 21-year-old Alex Morgan, the only college player currently in the mix for the USA, has been getting consistent call-ups. What mixture of these young players and the veterans, which include Kristine Lilly and Carli Lloyd (who is also coming back from an ankle injury) will produce the best results for the USA? U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage has a year to find the right ingredients for a most potent attacking potion.

GOING CLUBBING: U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage has called in 22 WPS players for the matches against Sweden. The roster includes at least one player from all seven WPS clubs. Sky Blue FC, the Boston Breakers, and FC Gold Pride have four call-ups each, while the Washington Freedom, Chicago Red Stars and Philadelphia Independence have three each. The Atlanta Beat has one in goalkeeper Hope Solo. There are only two WPS rookies on the roster and they are Lauren Cheney from the Breakers and Kelley O’Hara from FC Gold Pride. Abby Wambach leads WPS in assists with seven, which is also a league season record while Amy Rodriguez is second in the league in scoring with seven goals. Nicole Barnhart and Jill Loyden top the league in Goals Against Average at 0.83 and 0.85, respectively. Five players – Rachel Buehler, Amy LePeilbet, Heather O’Reilly and Kate Markgraf -- have played every minute so far for their clubs.

THE CLUBS THEY ARE A CHANGIN’: Seven players called up for the Sweden matches changed WPS clubs during the off-season. Shannon Boxx and Stephanie Cox went to the St. Louis Athletica and the Boston Breakers in the expansion draft after the Los Angeles Sol ceased operations, and then Boxx signed with FC Gold Pride after St. Louis folded in mid-season. Heather Mitts played out her one-year contract with the Boston Breakers and signed with the Philadelphia Independence. Lori Lindsey was taken first by Philly in the expansion draft after being a full-time starter in 2009 with the Washington Freedom while Amy Rodriguez was traded from the Breakers to the Independence for both of Philly’s 2010 first round draft picks. Goalkeeper Jill Loyden, who backed up Hope Solo on the St. Louis Athletica last year, was traded to the Chicago Red Stars, where she has been starting. Carli Lloyd, who spent WPS Season 1 with the Chicago Red Stars, signed with her home state Sky Blue FC, but has been sidelined most of the season with an ankle injury.

Current FIFA World Ranking: 4
Overall Record vs. USA: 3-17-6
Last Meeting vs. USA: March 1, 2010 (a 2-0 U.S. win at the Algarve Cup in Portugal)
Head Coach: Thomas Dennerby
Key Players: G Hedvig Lindahl, G Sofia Lundgren, D Stina Segerström, D Sara Thunebro, M Caroline Seger, M Therese Sjögran, M Lisa Dahlkvist, M Nilla Fischer, F Jessica Landstrom, F Kosovare Asllani

USA vs. Sweden Fast Facts: These two teams last met in March of this year in the third and final group match at the 2010 Algarve Cup … The 2-0 victory saw two goals from Lauren Cheney and put the USA in the championship game, where it defeated Germany in sloppy conditions … The two teams met in the championship game of the 2009 Algarve Cup, a 1-1 tie that went directly to penalty kicks where the USA fell 4-3 … Sweden has several world class players and four that are current playing in the WPS in Jessica Landstrom of Sky Blue FC, Kosovare Asllani of the Chicago Red Stars, and Caroline Seger and Sara Larsson of the Philadelphia Independence … Three of the last six meetings have been one-goal wins for the USA … One of those six games was a 2-0 victory in group play at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup … The most recent meeting came at this year’s Algarve Cup, another 2-0 victory … The other games were a 1-1 tie in the 2009 Algarve Cup Final and a 1-0 victory in Skelleftea in July 2008, which was the first time Sundhage coached against her native country … This will be the fourth and fifth meetings for Sundhage against Sweden and the USA is 2-0-1 in the games so far … The USA has one player who has played club soccer in Sweden in goalkeeper Hope Solo who for played for Kopparbergs/Göteborg in 2004 … Sweden will be without one of the world’s best wingers/forwards in Lotta Schelin, who plays her club ball in France with Olympique Lyonnais but is injured … Sweden has won five of its six 2011 Women’s World Cup qualifiers so far, while drawing one, and is in excellent position to win the group and earn a spot in the UEFA WWC qualifying playoffs … Sweden does have a tricky match left at the Czech Republic, a team they tied 0-0 during the qualifier in Sweden, and then a game to finish group play against Wales … Landstrom has scored six goals during those qualifiers, Seger has six and Asllani has two, meaning 14 of the Sweden’s 30 goals in its WWCQ campaign so far have been scored by players in WPS …Those numbers are a bit inflated by a 17-0 victory over Azerbaijan.

0.43 - Goals allowed per game by the USA in 2009
1 - World ranking of the U.S. Women’s National Team
3 - Number of games the USA has played inside USA so far this year
2.43 - Average goals per game for the USA in 2009
4 - Number of different goalkeepers who have played for the USA since the end of the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup
4 - Number of games the USA has played outside USA this year
4 - Number of players who have started all six games for the USA this year (Buehler, O’Reilly, Boxx and Wambach)
6 - Number of players in the USA’s top-20 on the all-time caps list to get a cap this year
6 - Number of different players to score a goal for the USA this year
21 - Goals the USA has allowed in 50 matches under Sundhage; 15 from the run of play, four from set plays and two on own goals
98 - Number of minutes that Abby Wambach averages a goal every…
107 - Career goals by Abby Wambach, tying her for third on the USA’s all-time list at age 29 and tied for fifth all-time in world history
130 - Number of minutes that Mia Hamm averaged a goal every…
197 - Players who have earned a cap for the U.S. Women’s National Team since the program’s inception in 1985, the most recent being Brittany Taylor and Alex Morgan, who earned their first caps against Mexico on March 31 in Sandy, Utah.

U.S. WNT Quick Hits:

  • The USA’s 17 goals this year have been scored by five different players – Abby Wambach (6), Lauren Cheney (5), Carli Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Kristine Lilly, Shannon Boxx and Amy Rodriguez, plus an own goal by Iceland in the Algarve Cup.
  • U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo has an all-time record of 70-5-9. Nicole Barnhart has never lost a match and is 14-0-1.
  • Heather O’Reilly’s 26 goals put her 15th on the all-time scoring list. She is within one goal of equaling the career total of Joy Fawcett. Abby Wambach is the third all-time in U.S. history with 107. Kristine Lilly, Wambach and O’Reilly are the only players on this roster who are in the top-15 all-time goal scorers. Nine of those players are retired.
  • The USA is riding a 44-game unbeaten streak in domestic matches (41-0-3).
  • Since Sundhage took over the U.S. team in the fall of 2007, she has given 12 players their first-ever caps, but just five of them are on the roster for Sweden. Sundhage’s first-cappers are: Rachel Buehler, Tina DiMartino, Tobin Heath, Ali Krieger, Ella Masar, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kendall Fletcher, Christine Nairn, Meghan Schnur, Kelley O’Hara, Brittany Taylor and Alex Morgan.
  • The U.S. team has been shut out in a match just eight times in the last 100 international matches but lost just two of those games. The USA tied Australia 0-0 in October of 2005, tied France 0-0 in January of 2006, tied China in March of 2006, tied Germany 0-0 in March of 2006 (in a game the USA lost in PKs in the Algarve Cup Final), tied Germany 0-0 in January of 2007, lost to Brazil 0-4 in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, lost to Norway 0-2 in the first round of the 2008 Olympics and tied South Korea in November of 2008. By contrast, the USA has earned 66 shutouts in its last 100 matches.
  • Since the end of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the USA is 49-1-4.
  • Since the end of the 1995 Women’s World Cup, the U.S. WNT has lost six matches in which they have taken a lead. Five of those games were to Norway. The USA has not lost a match in which it took a lead in more than seven years.
    Oct. 9, 1997 3-1 loss to Germany in Duisburg, Germany (USA led 1-0)
    Feb. 6, 2000 2-3 loss to Norway in Ft. Lauderdale (USA led 1-0 and 2-1)
    Feb. 9, 2000 1-2 loss to Norway in Ft. Lauderdale (USA led 1-0)
    Sept. 28, 2000 2-3 loss to Norway in Sydney, Australia in the Olympic gold medal game (USA led 1-0)
    March 17, 2001 3-4 loss to Norway in Quarteira, Portugal (USA led 3-1)
    March 5, 2002 2-3 loss to Norway in Lagos, Portugal (USA led 1-0)
  • Prior to 1995, the U.S. had leads in five matches but failed to win. Three of them were to Norway, one to Holland and one to China. Long story short, in the 448-match history of the WNT, it has surrendered a lead and lost just 11 times, eight of those to Norway.