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U.S. WNT Set To Face Mexico Live on ESPN2 at PAETEC Park in Rochester, N.Y.


United States Women’s National Team
Pre-Game Notes
USA vs. Mexico
Sept. 13, 2006

U.S. WOMEN TAKE ON MEXICO: This installment of the USA-Mexico rivalry takes on a unique twist as it’s possible that the two countries may meet at the end of November in Women’s World Cup qualifying. While the dates, venues and match-ups for the 2006 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, which will serve as the qualifying tournament for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, have not yet been announced, the teams know that the tournament itself will be in the United States at the end of November. The USA has a bye to the semifinals of the tournament, while Mexico won its pre-qualifying tournament in Mexico earlier this year to earn its place in the six-team Women’s Gold Cup. For now, the teams will focus on their primetime matchup on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the new PAETEC Park in Rochester, N.Y. (tickets) The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 beginning at 7:55 p.m. ET. Fans can also follow the action on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Dave O’Brien, who called the U.S. men’s games at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, will do play-by-play for what will be his first women’s game, alongside former U.S. captain Julie Foudy.

U.S. TEAM LOOKS TO CONTINUE UNBEATEN STREAK: Since U.S. head coach Greg Ryan took over in March of 2005, the U.S. team has not been beaten in regulation, their only setback being a penalty kick loss to Germany in the championship game of the 2006 Algarve Cup, a match that officially counts as a tie. The USA is 10-0-3 in 2006 and 18-0-4 since Ryan took the reins. This will be Ryan’s second match against Mexico, the other being a 3-0 win in October of 2005 in Charleston, S.C. This will be the fifth of seven domestic matches the USA will play before Women’s World Cup qualifying. The U.S. team played the first nine matches of the year outside the United States and will play seven games on U.S. soil. Then, the team will travel to South Korea for the 2006 Peace Queen Cup Korea in late October before returning home for the 2006 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup.

WAMBACH COMES HOME: Rochester native Abby Wambach will play in front of her hometown fans on Wednesday night for the second time with the National Team. The former prep All-American at Our Lady of Mercy High School has certainly been embraced by the people of Rochester, and for good reason: the Olympic gold medalist is fast developing into one of the most dangerous strikers in the world. Wambach, scorer of the winning goal in overtime against Brazil in the 2004 Olympic Final, scored 142 career goals at Our Lady of Mercy and was the 1997 National High School Player of the Year. Wambach’s goal in the 3-1 win against Norway on Jan. 18 in the USA’s 2006 Four Nations opener was the 50th of her international career. The goal, in just her 64th game, marked the second fastest a U.S. player has scored 50 goals. Michelle Akers scored her 50th goal in her 48th game, one of five against Taiwan at the 1991 Women’s World Cup. It took Mia Hamm 94 games to score 50, getting goals 50 and 51 on July 30, 1995, against Chinese Taipei. Kristine Lilly scored her 50th goal in her 164th match. Tiffeny Milbrett scored her 50th in her 107th match, and Cindy Parlow did her one game better, scoring her 50th in her 106th match. Wambach has eight goals in 2006, tied with Kristine Lilly for the team lead, and has now scored 57 goals in 76 career matches, the best strike rate in U.S. history.

USA TO CHRISTEN PAETEC FOR U.S. SOCCER: The U.S. Women’s National Team will play its third-ever game in Rochester, but the first at PAETEC Park, home of the Rochester Raging Rhinos, Rochester Rhinos women's soccer club and the Rochester Rattlers lacrosse team. The stadium opened on June 3, 2006, when the Raging Rhinos hosted the Virginia Beach Mariners in a USL First Division game in the first-ever soccer game at the facility. The U.S. women will be the first U.S. Soccer team to play at PAETEC, one of many new soccer-specific stadiums opening all across America. PAETEC Park, which seats 13,500, features, among other amenities, permanent administrative offices, a production room, team store, a fan accommodation area, guest services, a picnic area, surface parking, multiple restrooms and concession areas for food and beverages. While the U.S. team would certainly prefer matches on grass, the field has gotten excellent reviews from the players and will surely play very well, especially as rain is forecast for Wednesday night.

FIFTH ON TURF: The match against Mexico will mark the fifth-ever game for the USA on an artificial surface. The USA has played indoors (at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1993 in a test run for the 1994 World Cup) and on hybrid grass-plastic surfaces (in Tromso, Norway in 2000, 120 miles above the Arctic Circle), but rarely on Field Turf. The USA’s first game on the fake stuff was not until 2003 when the USA defeated Ireland, 5-0, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. The USA has also played on artificial surfaces in Louisville, Ky., at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, and at PGE Park in Portland, Ore.

2006 RESIDENCY CAMP IN THE BOOKS: The six-month 2006 Residency Training Camp came to end last week as the USA broke camp for the match in Rochester. U.S. head coach Greg Ryan has conducted about six different “training blocks” broken up by an off week or matches since the team came to The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in early April. At any given time, Ryan has had anywhere from 22-30 players in a “training block’ at The HDC this summer, with numerous players coming in and out on trial, as he continued to give looks to young players trying to break into the upper tier. With Residency Training Camp over, the team will come into training camps before matches for the rest of this year and the first three months of next year, after which another Residency Camp should commence leading into the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Ryan has used 26 players in game action so far in 2006 as the core of the players he will use in Women’s World Cup qualification takes shape.

USA vs. MEXICO HISTORY: The USA and Mexico amazingly met five times in 2004, but just once in 2005, that coming in late October in the final match of that year. This will be the first meeting with Mexico in 2006. The five games in 2004 tied a record for second most matches against a single country in a calendar year (the USA played China five times in 1991, Canada five times in 2000 and Norway eight times in 2000). The USA is 16-0-0 all-time vs. Mexico, including a 5-0 victory in Los Angeles on Dec. 8, 2004, in what was the final career match for Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm. While the USA and Mexico certainly do not have the same kind of rivalry that is seen on the men’s side, the passion still runs deep. The USA’s meeting with Mexico in the championship match of the 2004 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament was one for the ages. That clash in San Jose, Costa Rica, was perhaps the most exciting game ever between the two countries. The USA went down 2-0 after just 15 minutes as Maribel Dominguez scored two lighting-fast strikes. Lindsay Tarpley pulled a crucial goal back on a header just before halftime, and then the U.S. came out after the break on a mission, peppering the Mexican goal with shots until Wambach equalized on a brilliant solo effort just 11 minutes from the end of the game. U.S. captain Julie Foudy then dramatically won the match in the 84th minute, striking a rebound through goalmouth traffic off the right post and into the net to give the USA the regional title. In the most recent meeting in Charleston, S.C., on Oct. 23, 2005, the USA got two goals from Wambach and one from Lilly in the 3-0 win. Mexican prodigy Veronica Corral, then just 14-years-old, became what is believed to be the youngest player ever to face the full Women’s National Team in that match. Corral performed well at the recently completed 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia, but is not on the roster for this game. Mexico has only scored five goals on the USA in those 16 matches, and four of them came in two 3-2 wins for the USA, one in 2000 and one at Olympic qualifying.

MEXICO ON THE RISE: If you look at the state of Mexican women’s soccer in 1998 (when it was practically non-existent), and where it is now almost eight years later, the improvement has been remarkable. Mexico is ranked 26th in the world and has one Women’s World Cup and one Olympic appearance to its credit, as well as several appearances at the FIFA youth world championships. Although there is still much work to be done, Mexico’s growth in women’s soccer has quietly been one of the best stories in women’s sports. Mexico’s most recent high point in its women’s soccer history was qualifying for the 2004 Olympics where they advanced to the quarterfinals out of a group that included Germany and China. Mexico pulled off two great results in Greece, tying China 1-1 and losing to Germany, 2-0, to advance, before falling, 5-0, to a very talented Brazil team in the quarterfinals.

A LOOK AT MEXICO: Mexico has turned into one of the most improved women’s soccer countries in the world since becoming the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for a Women’s World Cup in 1999. (Mexico was also the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for the Olympic women’s soccer tournament). Mexico plays an exciting style featuring a unique mixture of Mexican-Americans and homegrown talent. Mexico is at its best when former UCLA star Iris Mora is paired with star forward Maribel Dominguez, who is Mexico’s greatest player in its young history. While Dominguez is not on this roster due to a shoulder injury that required surgery (and in fact, both Mora and Dominguez have missed the last three Mexico-USA matches), Mora returns and should be paired with young star Monica Ocampo. Ocampo returns from the recently completed 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia, where she had an excellent tournament. She also played well in the last meeting between the teams in Charleston, S.C. Dominguez has scored three of Mexico’s five all-time goals against the USA. Mora has one, and the leader of Mexico’s defense, former Notre Dame star Monica Gonzalez, has one, that off a penalty kick. Gonzalez, who has captained Mexico on many occasions, played for the WUSA’s Boston Breakers and will no doubt be in the middle of the Tricolor backline, possibly with Mexican-Americans Jessica Romero, who attends Cerritos College and Marlene Sandoval, one of the top players at Cal State Fullerton. Mexico’s midfielders are small, but crafty and quick. Monica Vergara is a veteran at 23-years-old, as is Guadalupe Worbis. At 26, midfielder Fatima Leyva has been one of Mexico’s most effective players for quite a while now. Mexico has three quality goalkeepers, all of whom have faced the USA over the past several years. Pamela Tajonar, Jennifer Molina (who played at Miami) and Sophia Perez (who played at San Diego State) all could possibly start against the USA. Both Molina and Tajonar played at the 2004 Olympics.

RAPINOE REPLACES O’REILLY, BARNHART IN FOR SCURRY: Forward Megan Rapinoe has been called in to replace forward Heather O’Reilly, who has a slight ankle injury that will preclude her from playing on Wednesday night. Rapinoe, who has eight goals already for the University of Portland Pilots as a sophomore this season, will arrive in Rochester on Tuesday night and be available to play on Wednesday. Rapinoe came into Residency Training Camp in mid-May and made rosters for the USA’s three matches in July, earning her first two caps against Ireland (July 23) and Canada (July 30). She scored 15 goals with 13 assists as a freshman last year to help the Pilots to an undefeated season and the NCAA title. She was one of the stars on the U.S. team that finished third at the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand. She had an excellent tournament in Thailand, scoring three goals, tied for the team lead, including one in the third-place match victory over Brazil. Also, goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart will come in to replace WNT veteran Briana Scurry, who suffered a thumb injury during training.

U.S. Roster (Hometown – caps/goals):
GOALKEEPERS (2): 24-Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa. - 3), 18-Hope Solo (Richland, Wash - 30);
DEFENDERS (6): 17-Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo. – 21/2), 8-Tina Frimpong (Vancouver, Wash. – 13/0), 14-Amy LePeilbet (Crystal Lake, Ill. – 22/0), 4-Stephanie Lopez (Elk Grove, Calif. – 5/0), 2-Heather Mitts (Cincinnati, Ohio – 54/2), 3-Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J. – 147/4);
MIDFIELDERS (5): 16-Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va. – 53/5), 11-Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J. - 13/0), 15-Marci Miller (St. Charles, Ill. – 7/0), 12-Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis. – 22/0), 10-Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif. – 101/21);
FORWARDS (5): 6-Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii – 9/5), 13-Kristine Lilly (Wilton, Conn. – 310/112), 25-Megan Rapinoe (Redding, Calif. – 2/0), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich. – 50/9), 20-Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y. – 76/57).

Mexico Roster (Club)
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Pamela Tajonar (Mexico FC), 12-Jennifer Molina (New England Mutiny), 20-Sophia Perez (San Diego Gauchos);
DEFENDERS (4): 2-Jessica Romero (Cerritos College), 3-Rubi Sandoval (Cal State Fullerton), 4-Monica Gonzales (California Storm), 7-Luz Saucedo (Mexico FC), 5-Maria Castillo (Mexico FC), 11-Paty Perez (FC Barcelona), 13-Isabel Valdez (Mexico FC);
MIDFIELDERS (8): 6-Monica Vergara (Mexico FC), 8-Fatima Leyva (Mexico FC), 15-Tania Morales (Chivas de Guadalajara);
FORWARDS (3): 9-Guadalupe Worbis (Meztisas), 10-Iris Mora (UCLA), 14-Lulu Gordillo (Andrea’s Soccer), 16-Carmen Padilla (Univ. of Pacific), 17-Monica Ocampo (Gancelas Univac).

2006 PEACE QUEEN CUP KOREA SET TO BE WORLD CLASS TOURNAMENT: The U.S. Women’s National Team will travel to South Korea in October to take part in the 2006 Peace Queen Cup that will be staged from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, in six Korean cities. These will be the final matches for the USA before it enters the 2006 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup where the U.S. women will attempt to earn one of the region’s two direct berths to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Peace Cup, which featured men’s club teams in the first two editions, will feature eight women’s national teams this time around. The tournament is staged in a similar format to the annual Algarve Cup in Portugal, with the teams playing a round-robin format in group play and the group winners meeting for the title. The USA opens Group B play against Denmark on Oct. 29 in Kimhae in the southeastern part of South Korea. The USA will then face recent 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers Australia on Oct. 31 in Cheonan, outside of Seoul, before finishing group play against North Korea on Nov. 2 in Suwon, also outside of Seoul. The championship match is on Nov. 4 in Seoul. Group A features South Korea, Brazil, Italy and Nigeria. The stadiums in Seoul and Suwon were used for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. These will be the first-ever games for the U.S. women in South Korea. Six of the eight teams in this tournament are either in or will likely be in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, with Italy and South Korea the only two teams definitely not going.

MARKGRAF BACK IN TRAINING: U.S. defender Kate Margraf returned to training this week with the Women’s National Team for the first time since having her son, Keegan Jamison, on July 18. The veteran U.S. defender, a Women’s World Cup and Olympic champion, had been training on her own for several weeks, but came into Rochester for two trainings with the U.S. team at PAETEC Park. She is not on the active game roster as she works her way back into shape. The former Kate Sobrero has 146 caps for the USA and could be ready for Women’s Word Cup qualifying in late November, if not sooner. Markgraf joins the growing list of soccer moms on the U.S. team who have had babies and continued playing, which in the past included Joy Fawcett and Carla Overbeck, and currently includes Christie Rampone, Danielle Fotopoulos and Tina Frimpong.

Stat of Note
Eight different players have scored the USA’s 32 goals this year. Ten different players have assists.

Quote of the Week
U.S. defender Kate Markgraf after her first training back with the U.S. team following the birth of her son on July 18.

“I am sore in places not previously thought to contain muscle.”

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