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U.S. Women to Open 2008 Olympics on Wednesday vs. Norway

United States Women’s National Team
Notes from Qinhuangdao, China
Aug. 4, 2008

U.S. WOMEN OPEN 2008 OLYMPIC GAMES ON AUG. 6 IN QINHUANGDAO: After 13 days in China, the U.S. Women’s National Team will get its 2008 Olympics underway with a crucial Group G opener against Norway on Wed., Aug. 6 at the Qinhuangdao Olympic Sports Center Stadium. The match kicks off at 7:45 p.m. local time / 7:45 a.m. ET and will be broadcast live on MSNBC and Universal HD. The game can also been seen on the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel. All 12 teams in the three groups will be in action on Aug. 6, which also includes several other great matches, including Brazil vs. Germany in Group F and China vs. Sweden in Group E. The U.S. and Norway are certainly familiar with each other having met 43 times over the years and twice already this year.

BEFORE THE OPENING CEREMONIES, THERE IS SOCCER: The Opening Ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics – billed as the most spectacular and expensive ever -- will take place at the now iconic Birds Nest on Aug. 8. The two soccer competitions (women start on Aug. 6 and men kickoff on Aug. 7) must begin before the Opening Ceremonies due to the length of the two tournaments. The Olympics is just 18 days long, a short time span to play a 12-team women’s tournament and 16-team men’s tournament. The teams that make the gold medal match for women on Aug. 21 will play six matches in 16 days. The men’s teams who reach the gold medal game on Aug. 23 will play six matches in 17 days.

TWO MATCHES AT QINHUANGDAO SPORTS STADIUM: The Qinhuangdao Olympic Sports Center Stadium, where the U.S. will play its first two Group G matches, is located in the harbor district in the southwestern part of the city. Its light steel hanging framework that curves like a horse saddle gives it a sense of movement, while the creamy white roof-covering against the blue sky resembles the sails of a ship at sea. At night, the inside lighting makes the whole structure glow like a huge shell on the beach. The stadium, which has a track around the field, seats 32,500 fans. It will host 10 first-round matches (five women’s and five men’s) and two quarterfinals (one women’s and one men’s).

GROUP G SCHEDULE: The U.S. and Norway will be favored to come out Group G at the 2008 Olympics, but Japan sends a strong team that has gotten some excellent results lately and New Zealand has perhaps its strongest team ever. With the match days separated by two rest days, each team will play three games in seven days to determine who advances to the quarterfinals. The top two finishers in each of the three groups advance to the second round along with two best third-place finishers based on points.

2008 Olympics Group G Schedule
Date        Local Time / ET             Match                                      Venue
Aug. 6     5 p.m. / 5 a.m.                Japan vs. New Zealand      Qinhuangdao
Aug. 6     7:45 p.m. / 7:45 a.m.     Norway vs. USA                   Qinhuangdao
Aug. 9     5 p.m. / 5 a.m.                USA vs. Japan                      Qinhuangdao
Aug. 9     7:45 p.m. / 7:45 a.m.     New Zealand vs. Norway   Qinhuangdao
Aug. 12   7:45 p.m. / 7:45 a.m.     Norway vs. Japan                Shanghai
Aug. 12   7:45 p.m. / 7:45 a.m.     USA vs. New Zealand         Shenyang

USA ON NBC: JP Dellacamera will call play-by-play for all of the U.S. Women’s Olympic matches while U.S. legend Brandi Chastain will provide the color commentary. All of the USA’s matches will be on live on NBC’s family of networks, and will also be replayed later in the day. NBC Universal is also launching a channel exclusively dedicated to full coverage of Men’s and Women’s Soccer at the 2008 Olympic Games. A total of 32 Men’s and 26 Women’s Soccer Games will be shown in their entirety on the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel, in addition to coverage on USA Network, MSNBC and live streaming on The seven NBC Networks — NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Oxygen, Telemundo and Universal HD — will provide an unprecedented 3,600 hours of coverage, all in high definition. will also provide over 3,000 hours of on-demand access to full event replays and extensive highlights. The NBC Olympic Soccer Channel is available on major cable, satellite and telephone companies and distributors.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SEASONED: While just eight of the 18 players on the U.S. roster have Olympic experience, all of them have played in at least one world championship at the youth or senior level. Thirteen players on the Olympic roster were on the USA’s 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team, a number which does not include 2004 Olympic gold medalist Heather Mitts, who was injured last year. The remaining four players – Amy Rodriguez, Lauren Cheney, Tobin Heath and Rachel Buehler – have all played in at least one FIFA youth world championship, and in the case of Rodriguez and Buehler, each played in two tournaments for the USA.

OLYMPIC ROSTERS SET: With each team in the Olympic women’s competition having a roster of 18 players, 216 of the world’s finest female soccer players have traveled to China in search of a gold medal. Following are the rosters for the USA and Norway.

U.S. Women’s National Team
2008 Olympic Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 18-Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), 1-Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.)
DEFENDERS (6): 4-Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.), 17-Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), 14-Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), 15-Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), 2-Heather Mitts (Cincinnati, Ohio), 3-Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 13-Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), 16-Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), 11-Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), 9-Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), 10-Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.)
FORWARDS (3): 12-Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), 6-Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), 8-Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.)

Norway Women’s National Team
2008 Olympic Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Erika Skarbø, 18-Christine Nilsen
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Ane Stangeland Horpestad, 3-Gunhild Følstad, 5-Siri Nordby, 7-Trine Rønning, 15-Marita Skammelsrud Lund, 12-Marit Christensen
MIDFIELDERS (4): 4-Ingvild Stensland, 6-Marie Knutsen, 8-Solveig Gulbrandsen, 13-Lene Storløkken;
FORWARDS (6): 9-Isabell Herlovsen, 10-Melissa Wiik, 11-Leni Larsen Kaurin, 14-Guro Knutsen, 16-Elise Thorsnes, 17-Lene Mykjåland

TALKING NORWAY: U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage and team captain Christie Rampone attended the official press conference Monday, Aug. 4, at Qinhuangdao Olypmic Sports Center Stadium. Click here for quotes from Sundhage, Rampone and several other U.S. players.

Current FIFA World Ranking: 5
Olympic History: 1996 (Bronze Medal), 2000 (Gold Medal), 2004 (Did not qualify)
Overall Record vs. USA: 18-23-2
Last Meeting vs. USA: July 2, 2008 (a 4-0 U.S. win in Fredrikstad, Norway)
Head Coach: Bjarne Berntsen
Key Players: G Erika Skarbø, D Ane Stangeland Horpestad, D Gunhild Følstad, M Ingvild Stensland, M Marie Knutsen, M Solveig Gulbrandsen, F Isabell Herlovsen, F Melissa Wiik
USA vs. Norway Fast Facts: This match marks a meeting between the only two teams to win Olympic gold in women’s soccer as well as the second time the teams have opened Olympic play … The USA defeated Norway, 2-0, in Melbourne, Australia to open the 2000 Olympics, although both would make it back to the gold medal match where Norway triumphed in overtime … The teams have already met twice this year, once at the Algarve Cup last March and in a friendly at the beginning of July in Norway … The USA won both games by 4-0 scores … At the Algarve Cup, the USA got goals from Abby Wambach (a diving effort off her chest), Natasha Kai (after she stole the ball off the foot of the goalkeeper), Heather O’Reilly (a brave header) and Amy Rodriguez (a strange bouncer off the GK) …In Norway, Lindsay Tarpley opened the scoring with a nifty finish, Carli Lloyd score off a deflected shot, Angela Hucles pounded one in from 40-plus yards away and Abby Wambach finished it off with a breakaway goal … Like the USA, Norway had an ambitious pre-Olympic schedule, losing to Sweden 2-0 on July 20, but rebounded to down defeat Germany, 2-0, on July 23 … Norway’s Solveig Gulbrandsen, one of the world’s top center midfielders, has been utilized as a forward of late … Norway lists four midfielders and six forwards on its roster, but its 4-5-1 formation features flank midfielders / wingers who get high up the field … Norway has sisters on their team in Guro and Marie Knutsen … Norway qualified for the Olympics by virtue of its fourth place finished at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, there it lost to the USA in the third-place match by a 4-1 score.

Quick Hits

  • Three U.S. players have scored career high for goals in a calendar year in 2008: Natasha Kai (12), Lindsay Tarpley (10) and Amy Rodriguez (5)
  • Carli Lloyd is the only U.S. player to start all 22 matches so far this year. Christie Rampone has started 21 while Shannon Boxx and Lori Chalupny have started 19
  • The USA has averaged almost three goals a game in 2008, while allowing .49 goals per 90 minutes. The two GKs on the Olympic roster – Hope Solo and Nicole Barnhart – have a goal against average of 0.33 per game
  • Lindsay Tarpley earned her 100th cap against Brazil in San Diego on July 16. Shannon Boxx has 96 caps while Heather O’Reilly has 94
  • If Christie Rampone plays in all three group matches, she will get her 200th cap against New Zealand in Shenyang
  • Christie Rampone has played 1,822 minutes this year to lead the team
  • The USA has played 22 matches so far this year heading into the Olympics. In 2007, the team played 15 games before the Women’s World Cup
  • The match against Norway will be the first-ever world championship match in U.S. history played without Kristine Lilly

OLYMPIC OPENERS: The U.S. women have faced European countries to open the last three Olympics and will make it four-for-four against UEFA teams in Qinhuangdao. The U.S. women are 3-0-0 in Olympic openers dating back to 1996 when they defeated Denmark, 3-0 in Orlando, Fla. In Sydney, the USA opened with a 2-0 win over Norway and in Greece, the USA picked up a 3-0 win over the hosts.

Stat of Note
Only five countries have won medals in Olympic women’s soccer: the USA, Brazil, Germany, Norway and China.