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U.S. Women's Olympic Team Set For Final Group Match Against Australia

Monday, August 16, 2004
U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from Thessaloniki, Greece

U.S. TEAM RESTS, PREPARES FOR AUSTRALIA: The U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team got a well-deserved day off from training on Sunday after clinching a berth in the quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory over Brazil on Saturday.  The U.S. athletic trainers did put the players through a short pool workout in the morning at the spectacular pool setup at the team hotel, but the players had the rest of the day to themselves, and most spent some time with friends and family, who have come to Greece in a group of about 90-strong.  Overall, it was a relaxing day for the U.S. team, ending with a screening in the players’ lounge of “50 First Dates” featuring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.  The U.S. team also watched many hours of Olympic events as the Games got into full swing. The Olympics are being broadcast on at least four different channels in the team hotel – none of them in English – forcing the U.S. team to try to focus on the massive number of swimming heats searching for U.S. swimmers, and flipping channels back and forth to find their favorite events and other American athletes competing.

MATILDAS LOOM: The U.S. team trained on Monday morning at Toumba Stadium, a smaller facility close to the match venue of Kaftanzoglio Stadium, shaking out the legs in a one-hour practice in preparation for its third match in a span of seven days.  Toumba Stadium, which is home to the PAOK Club, was opened in the mid-1920s and despite some recent renovation looks to still have much of the architecture and feel of an ancient stadium.  Australia comes into the match having lost to Brazil and beaten Greece in group play, both by 1-0 scores, and needs at least a tie to ensure advancement to the quarterfinals.  The USA needs a win or a tie to clinch first place in the group, so both teams will be motivated for the match that kicks off at 6 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET on MSNBC.  Fans can also follow the game on’s MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics.  The USA could actually win the group with a 2-0 loss, provided Brazil does not put up a big number of goals (four or more) against Greece.  Australia currently sits second in Group G, having a slightly better goal difference than Brazil, but the Samba Queens face the group’s weakest team in Greece in their final match and are favored to win and take second in the group.  Should the USA win the group, they will have the luxury of staying in Thessaloniki for their quarterfinal game, which will be against the best third-place team from Group E or F.

WAMBACH WILL WATCH: While U.S. head coach April Heinrichs has started the same 11 players for the first two group matches, that will not be the case for the Australia game as forward Abby Wambach will sit out while serving a one-game suspension for receiving a yellow card in each of the first two games.  Defender Christie Rampone, who received a yellow card in the 88th minute vs. Brazil, is the only other U.S. player carrying a card in the final group match.  Besides Mia Hamm, Heinrichs’ other two forwards on the roster are 19-year-old Heather O’Reilly and 5-foot-11 Cindy Parlow, who has 69 career goals.

THIRD ROUND OF GROUP MATCHES SEE CHINA, SWEDEN FACING ELIMINATION: Before the tournament began, few if any soccer fans thought that heading into the final round group games for the 2004 Olympics that China and Sweden would be facing elimination, but that is exactly what has transpired in the odd 10-team tournament.  Three of the four teams advance to the quarterfinals from the USA’s Group G, most likely the USA, Brazil and Australia.  In Group E and F, the top two finishers will advance, along with the best third-place finisher among the two groups. 

CHINA TO WATCH AND HOPE: China is in the most dire of straits after suffering a shocking 8-0 thrashing at the feet of Germany, then tying Women’s World Cup debutantes Mexico, 1-1, in its second and final group game.  Those results mean that if Mexico loses to Germany by less than eight goals – a likely scenario for Mexican head coach Leonardo Cuellar’s troops, who will likely lock down the back against the powerful Germans -- China will finish third in its group and must hope that one point will be enough to get them through.  That will only be the case if Sweden loses to Nigeria in its final group game, giving Sweden zero points.  Nigeria sent the group into a tizzy with its 1-0 victory over Japan, which had defeated Sweden, 1-0.  Those results mean that if Sweden defeats Nigeria, 1-0, all three teams in the group will be tied on the first six tie-breakers, with all the teams having the same points, goal difference and goals scored.  The next tie-breaker is the “fair play point system in which the number of yellow and red cards each team has received is evaluated.”  In the two matches so far, Nigeria is the only team with a caution, meaning that Maureen Mmadu’s yellow card in the 31st minute vs. Japan could well mean the difference between first and third place in the group, should Sweden get the 1-0 result. 

U.S. HAS ONE EYE ON VOLOS: If Sweden ties Nigeria at Panthessaliko Stadium in Volos, Sweden would finish third in the group, advance over China (with a better goal difference), and if the USA wins its group, face the Americans in the quarterfinals.  If Sweden defeats Nigeria by two or more goals, Nigeria would finish third in the group and travel to Thessaloniki to face the USA in the quarters, should the Americans win the group.  If Sweden defeats Nigeria 1-0, it would then fall on the Fair Play points to decide the USA’s opponent in the quarterfinals, once again, should the USA win the group.

USA vs. AUSTRALIA REDUX: The USA and Australia met just 28 days ago in a friendly match in Blaine, Minn., with the USA coming away with a 3-1 win.  Both teams sent a message in that match, Australia with their gritty play and organized defense and the USA with its ability to light up the scoreboard with a slew of talented attacking players.  The Matildas went up 1-0 in the fifth minute on a fine strike by Danielle Small, and the USA spent 51 minutes trying to get an equalizer before Shannon Boxx tied it in the 56th minute off a corner kick.  Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach then added goals in the 76th and 81st minute respectively, both set up by speedy 19-year-old forward Heather O’Reilly who had come off the bench.  The USA is expecting another intense battle from the always-plucky Aussies tomorrow. 

USA vs. AUSTRALIA PREVIEW: The USA has had some great success against Australia since the first meeting between the two teams in 1987.  The USA has run up 15 straight wins, including a historic meeting at the 1995 Women’s World Cup, when after falling behind, 1-0, the Americans rallied to win 4-1.  Australia has managed more than one goal in just one of those 14 matches, a 4-2 U.S. win in 1995.  Australia has participated in three Women’s World Cup tournaments and this is the second Olympic Games for the perennial Oceania champions.   Australia has a core of very experienced players, but while they are known as a scrappy team that goes in to win every tackle, the USA’s speed and athleticism will be tough to contain.  Australia’s goalkeeper Cassandra Kell is young but talented and played a fine match against the USA in Blaine. 

A LOOK AT AUSTRALIA: Australia has a young squad at the Olympics with 12 players 24 years old or under, including 16-year-old Sally Shipard from Wagga Wagga. The Matildas do have some experience with three former WUSA players on the roster.  Defender Dianne Alagich was a member of the San Jose CyberRays and defender Cheryl Salisbury played for the New York Power, as did midfielder Joanne Peters, who picked up a yellow card in the first match against Brazil.  The Aussies have several other players who have played in the United States, including goalkeeper Kell, who played in the W-League with the Hampton Roads Piranhas, and midfielder Danielle Small, who played some of her college ball at San Diego State.  The six-foot Salisbury, who’s physical presence seems to take up the entire middle of the field, also is very skillful and smart on the ball.  She is by far the most capped Australian player on the roster, and has played in the midfield and at forward for her country, scoring 28 times for the Matildas.  Peters, a hard-shooting midfielder, is the main offensive threat from the midfield, as she has pumped in 15 goals in her career.  Sarah Walsh is one of the fastest players the USA has seen this year and the back line must keep an eye on her at all times.  Australia head coach Adrian Santrac has chosen to the 2004 Olympic Team just 12 members of his 20-player 2003 Women’s World Cup Team that drew once and lost twice in the opening round of the tournament, failing to advance to the quarterfinals.  Like the USA, Australia is represented by several members of its 2002 U-19 World Championship team as defenders Karla Rueter and Thea Slatyer and forward Selin Kuralay played for the young Matildas in Canada in 2002.  The U.S. team, led by Heather O’Reilly and Lindsay Tarpley, defeated Australia 4-0 in group play in a match that was a lot closer than the scored indicated.  O’Reilly in fact beat Slatyer to score one of the goals in that match.  Heather Garriock owns Australia’s lone goal of the tournament, tallying against Greece in the Matildas’ big 1-0 win last Saturday. 

SEPP IN THE HOUSE: FIFA President Sepp Blatter stayed at the U.S. team hotel last week and was conspicuous in his presence, walking through the lobby chatting with players and officials alike.  Blatter conversed in French with players from Mali, in Spanish with players from Paraguay and in English with the U.S. players and media, spreading the charm and cordiality that has made him one of FIFA’s most visible presidents.

BRANDI AND MO-MO: U.S. defender Brandi Chastain, always a great conversationalist as well as a big-time fan of men’s soccer, chatted up a few of the players from Mali, who are staying at the team’s hotel this week.  Chastain befriended two Malian players who told her that she couldn’t pronounce their real names so just to call them by their nicknames, Mo-Mo and Foos.  Mo-Mo, who plays in Spain with Valencia, spoke as much Spanish as English, so Chastain conversed with him in both, a meeting that somehow embodied the Olympic spirit as an American women was in Greece chatting in Spanish with a French-speaking man from Mali.  The two players invited Chastain to the local discothèque, but Chastain declined and jokingly suggested they go to the casino instead.  Mo-Mo responded that she could not go to the casino as she would lose all her money and “be sad and not want to go to the disco.”  Chastain then responded that she would win and be even happier. Chastain, in fact, went to neither the disco or the casino with Mo-Mo and Foos, but did watch with much enjoyment as the entertaining Malians defeated Greece, 2-0, after the USA’s 2-0 victory over Brazil.

PROMISE FUFILLED: When U.S. midfielder Lindsay Tarpley was a 14-year-old freshman at Portage Central High School in Kalamazoo, Michigan, her high school coach Pat Norman told her that if she ever made the Olympics, he would be there.  Although a dream of Tarpley’s, she scoffed as the notion at the time, even though she would score 50 goals for the Mustangs varsity team as a frosh.  Now, just six short years later, coach Norman is in Greece and watched with immense pride as Tarpley came into the match in the 57th minute to give the USA’s attack a spark, then got the assist on the clinching goal with a dynamic and brave head pass to Abby Wambach.  Said Tarpley: “You kind of forget about those things.  I didn’t even know he was coming until I read about it in the Kalamazoo Gazette, but it really means a lot for him to be here.”
2004 Olympic Women’s soccer First Round Match Schedule

Aug. 11

USA 3, Greece 0          
Germany 8, China 0     
Brazil 1, Australia 0
Japan 1, Sweden 0   

Aug. 14

Nigeria 1, Japan 0     
Australia 1, Greece 0          
China 1, Mexico 1          
USA 2, Brazil 0     

Aug. 17
Germany v Mexico     
Greece v Brazil          
USA v Australia          
Sweden v Nigeria

2004 Olympic Women’s Soccer Group Standings

Teams     W     L     T    Pts    GF    GA    GD
Nigeria     1      0     0     3        1       0       +1   
Japan       1      1     0     3        1       1        0     
Sweden    0      1     0     0        0       1       -1     

Teams       W     L     T    Pts    GF    GA    GD
Germany    1     0      0     3       8        0      +8
Mexico       0     0      1     1       1        1        0
China          0     1     1      1      1         9       -8   

Teams       W     L     T    Pts    GF    GA    GD
USA           2      0     0      6       5        0      +5
Australia    1      1     0      3       1        1        0
Brazil          1      1     0      3       1        2      -1
Greece       0      2     0      0       0        4      -4

Goalkeepers (2): 18-Kristin LUCKENBILL, 1-Briana SCURRY; Defenders (6): 6-Brandi CHASTAIN, 14-Joy FAWCETT, 15-Kate MARKGRAF, 2-Heather MITTS, 3-Christie RAMPONE, 4-Cat REDDICK; Midfielders (6): 7-Shannon BOXX, 11-Julie FOUDY, 8-Angela HUCLES, 13-Kristine LILLY, 5-Lindsay TARPLEY, 10-Aly WAGNER; Forwards (4): 9-Mia HAMM, 17-Heather O’REILLY, 12-Cindy PARLOW, 16-Abby WAMBACH.

Goalkeepers (2): 1-Cassandra KELL, 18-Melissa BARBIERI; Defenders (6): 2-Rhian DAVIES, 3-Sacha WAINWRIGHT, 4-Dianne ALAGICH, 5-Cheryl SALISBURY, 12-Karla REUTER, 13-Thea SLATYER; Midfielders (7): 6-Sally SHIPARD, 8-Heather GARRIOCK, 9-Kylie LEDBROOK, 10-Joanne PETERS, 17-Danielle SMALL, 14-Gillian FOSTER, 15-Tal KARP; Forwards (3): 11-Lisa VANNA, 16-Selin KURALAY,
7-Sarah WALSH.


U.S. midfielder Kristine Lilly on the USA’s first-half performance against Brazil:
“We didn’t have much pressure on the ball in the first half, but when we went to a three front, we also played higher pressure and that didn’t give them an opportunity to play make so much.  That changed a lot for us. Our mentality changed and we were closer to the goal.  In the first half, we were trying to cover too much space, so the change in formation helped us incredibly. ”

Lilly on Australia:
“They need a point (to advance), but going into this last game we want to win this group.  Whatever they throw at us, we want to be able to handle it to try to get this three points.”

Lilly on the U.S. bench:
“If you look at the players that came into the game yesterday they did an incredible job.  Tarp (Lindsay Tarpley) was getting chances, getting in and playing very comfortably.  Anyone who steps off the bench, we feel confident in the whole unit and we feel comfortable that everyone will do their job well.”

U.S. defender Kate Markgraf on the USA having to play one more first-round match than their quarterfinal opponent:
“I think it’s how you look at it.  We’re not upset about it, if anything, it’s another game to perfect how you want to play.  When we get to the games that are single elimination, we’ve already got three games under out belt. For example against Brazil, we had a tough first half and were able to weather that storm so now we have even more experience that we can draw from if we run into a similar situation in an elimination game.”

U.S. goalkeeper Brian Scurry on the first half vs. Brazil:
“I know the main problem with that half is that we weren’t exerting enough pressure on them and they were able to do what they wanted.  And because they are such a good team, if you don’t put pressure on them, they will do what they want and do it well.  I think what we learned is that we need to pressure in the beginning no matter who we are playing against because that evens the playing field and then our style of play and athletic ability can take over.”

Scurry on what Australia will bring to the game vs. the USA:
“I think they are going to come with the kitchen sink against us.  They’re front runner number seven (Sarah Walsh) is faster than fast…so we have to keep an eye on her. Australia has their backs up against it.  They have three points and they know they can do well against us they can advance and it’s important to them.  We have to be ready from the first minute because they are going to come out swinging.” 

U.S. head coach April Heinrichs on the team’s philosophy heading into the Australia match, and the tournament, as far as placement in the group:
“Let’s approach Australia with the utmost respect for the fact that this is a world class game against an Olympic Team.  We’ve seen the level of all teams rise and we need to find ways to beat Australia.  The margin of winning, tying or losing can be very tricky in soccer.  It’s very difficult to manipulate the results or the placement.  We don’t try to do that ever…so we just play to win and let the chips fall where they may.  You don’t want to try get into manipulation games.  That’s just dangerous thinking.”

Heinrichs when asked if the U.S. team had felt any anti-American sentiments during their time in Greece, one of off the field:
“Ninety-percent of the time we spend off the field and with the Greek community, the volunteers, the people surrounding our team, the people at the hotel, the shop owners we have met, have all been nothing but marvelous and hospitable to us.  That’s been wonderful.  We had heard about the anti-American thoughts, but the Greeks have been unbelievably supportive.  On the field, I think they are cheering for other teams, but it’s one of the common denominators in every culture is that they cheer for the underdog.”

Heinrichs on who may replace the suspended Abby Wambach in the lineup:
“We have four really good choices in Lindsay Tarpley, Cindy Parlow or Heather O’Reilly, or Kristine Lilly can play up top and we’ll shift someone into the midfield.  They’ve all played in the tournament so we like that going into the game.  I think they’ve all proven themselves to be confident in stepping on the field for the USA, giving us a lift and dealing with the speed and physicality of the Olympic excitement.”

Heinrichs on what the above four bring to the game:
“Kristine (Lilly) brings experience and composure and a good possession quality to her game, Cindy Parlow is very good with her back to pressure and is very strong physically, so she is not bumped around.  She is also obviously also very strong in the air.  Lindsay Tarpley is the player that can play any one of six positions for us up front and do it well.  She is tactical and technical and has toughness as well.  Heather O’Reilly gives us tremendous speed, athleticism and quickness to get behind any team in the world.  So, I think all four give us a different look and it depends on what you want in that particular game, or what your team needs, or what problems you opponent poses.” 

8/16/2004 2:18:00 PMMia Hamm chats with members of the media in advance of the USA's match vs. Australia tomorrow. noleftno 225300 img_6_3157.fpx0.2792,0.0397,0.375,0.5017nonoU.S. forward Mia Hamm on who will be her strike partner for the Australia match:
“You can’t discount Abby’s presence on this team, but at the same time we have some players that if called upon are ready to contribute in whatever way they can.  That’s why we feel we have such great chemistry in that regards, because people understand their roles and if they are needed, they will step up the best they can.”

Hamm on the match vs. Australia:
“When we play Australia, I always think they are an extremely proud team.  They will battle you for the entire 90 minutes.  It doesn’t matter what the score is or what the game is for, they go out and play hard.  We respect that.  And the way you show them that you have respect is that you prepare yourself in every possible way you that you can going into this match.  As a team, we can’t control what happens in other games, all we can control is our approach to every single game and our approach is that to get a positive result, we have to play our best and I know Australia is going to prepare the same way.”

STAT OF NOTE: Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm are tied for second in the tournament in scoring with two goals each behind German Birgit Prinz, who scored all four of her goals in Germany’s 8-0 thrashing of China.