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U.S. WNT to Face Canada in Four Nations Finale

U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from the Four Nations Tournament
Shenzhen, China – February 1, 2004

U.S. WOMEN RUN THROUGH LAST TRAINING IN CHINA BEFORE CANADA MATCH: The U.S. Women’s National Team conducted its last training session in China on Monday afternoon (after watching the Super Bowl live in the morning -- see below), and it was a light one, as the players are coming off two grueling matches in a span of three days and will finish up with three matches in five days on Tuesday against Canada at Shenzhen Stadium. The five field players who played the full 90 minutes against China (Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Joy Fawcett, Shannon Boxx and Kate Sobrero) just jogged and stretched, never putting on their cleats, while the rest of the team hit some long balls, did some finishing and ended with a few set plays. U.S. goalkeepers Briana Scurry and Siri Mullinix were perhaps the busiest players on the day, facing a multitude of shots from the U.S. players. The team was once again blessed with a warm day, causing several players to list Shenzhen as the second favorite city they’ve visited in China behind Shanghai, which while much colder in January, has the feel and electricity of New York and Las Vegas combined.

WIN OVER CANADA COULD CLINCH TOURNAMENT TITLE: The U.S. controls its own destiny towards the tournament championship but definitely needs a win over Canada to clinch the Four Nations Tournament title for the second year in a row. China and Sweden, however, are still very much alive in the round-robin competition. The USA and China each have four points from a win and a tie, while Sweden is in third place with three points from one win and Canada has zero points after dropping both of its matches. China and Sweden have the luxury of playing the second match of the day, so both will know what score they need to achieve to earn the highest placement possible. The goal Canada scored on China in the 90th minute of their match may turn out to be a big one for the USA, which carries its two-goal difference advantage over China into the last match day.

Placement Scenarios

  1. The USA (plus-3 on goal difference) will win the tournament if it defeats Canada and maintains its goal difference advantage over China (which is at plus-1).  For example, if USA defeats Canada, 1-0, China would have to defeat Sweden by three, which would tie the two teams on goal difference, but give China the title on the next tiebreaker - goals scored.
  2. A U.S. win by two or more goals will make China’s job that much more difficult as it would have to rout a talented Sweden team by many goals, an unlikely prospect.
  3. A U.S. win over Canada (giving the USA 7 points) would eliminate Sweden from title contention as the 2003 Women’s World Cup runner-ups can only get a maximum of 6 points.
  4. The USA could still win the tournament with a tie against Canada, but only if Sweden and China tie.
  5. If Canada defeats the USA, and Sweden defeats China, Sweden will win the tournament.
  6. If Canada defeats the USA, and Sweden and China tie or China wins, China will win the tournament.
  7. The best Canada can hope to finish is third, if they defeat the USA and Sweden loses to China, and the Canadians end up with a superior goal difference to the Europeans.
  8. It is conceivable that the USA could not lose a game, not allow a goal, and still not win the tournament, should they tie Canada, 0-0, and China defeats Sweden, thus is the nature of the Four Nations Tournament.

Four Nations Standings
USA 1 0 1 4 3 0 +3
CHN 1 0 1 4 2 1 +1
SWE 1 1 0 3 3 4 -1
CAN 0 2 0 0 2 5 -3

Tuesday, Feb. 3
USA vs. Canada        2:15 p.m. local (1:15 a.m. ET)
China vs. Sweden      4:30 p.m. local (3:30 a.m. ET)

USA vs. CANADA PREVIEW: On Tuesday, the USA and Canada will renew what is one of the oldest rivalries in women’s international soccer, dating back to 1986, in what has become of late also one of the most intense regional rivalries in the world. It didn’t used to be. The USA defeated Canada 21 times in a row from 1986-2000, but under head coach Even Pellerud, not only has Canada become a power in CONCACAF, but also in the world, as their fourth place finish at the 2003 Women’s World Cup attests. The USA has played some big matches against Canada in the last year or so, winning the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, 2-1, at the end of 2002 and tying 1-1 at the 2003 Algarve Cup. The two teams met for third-place at the 2003 Women’s World Cup last October, with the USA coming away with a 3-1 victory at The Home Depot Center. This will mark the first meeting since that game.

Canada’s inspirational leader is captain Charmaine Hooper, for years a rugged forward who has now made the transition to rugged defender and is firmly entrenched in center of the Canadian defense. Canada is without bruising forward Christine Latham, who did not travel to China due to a leg injury, but has one of the best young strikers in the world in University of Portland junior Christine Sinclair, who scored her country’s lone goal against Sweden, and already has more than 40 goals on the full international level. Beside Sinclair, Canada features four players from its U-19 squad that fell in the championship game to the USA at the 2002 U-19 Women’s World Championship, led by midfielder Brittany Timko of the University of Nebraska, who is showing signs of becoming a star for the senior team. This Canadian roster has four players playing college soccer in the United States. Canada brought three goalkeepers to China, with Erin McLeod playing against China and Women’s World Cup hero Taryn Swiatek getting the start against Sweden, meaning that former Boston Breakers ‘keeper Karina LeBlanc will likely get the nod vs. the USA. Canada has a young team, but none younger than 16-year-old Aysha Jamani, a star of their U-19 team who made her senior debut at this tournament. The buzzing midfielder will likely be a thorn in side of U.S. U-19 head coach Tracey Leone, should the two countries meet down the line at qualifying for the 2004 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Cup. Canada’s long ball style is always frustrating for the USA, and usually highly effective, meaning the U.S. defenders will have to be at the top of their air games tomorrow afternoon.

Following are both the U.S. and Canada rosters:

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Briana Scurry, 18-Siri Mullinix; DEFENDERS (7): 2-Kylie Bivens, 14-Joy Fawcett, 15-Kate Markgraf (*nee Sobrero), 21-Heather Mitts, 29-Amy LePeilbet, 3-Christie Rampone (*nee Pearce), 4-Cat Reddick; MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx, 23-Lori Chalupny, 11-Julie Foudy, 19-Angela Hucles, 13-Kristine Lilly, 26-Leslie Osborne, 5-Tiffany Roberts; FORWARDS (4): 8-Shannon MacMillan, 27-Heather O’Reilly, 25-Lindsay Tarpley, 20-Abby Wambach.

GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Karina LeBlanc, 22-Erin McLeod, 22-Taryn Swiatek; DEFENDERS (7): 2-Marie-Eve Nault, 4-Sasha Andrews, 6-Sharolta Nonen, 7-Isabelle Morneau, 10-Charmaine Hooper, 11-Randee Hermus, 17-Tanya Dennis; MIDFIELDERS (8): 3-Carmelina Moscato, 5-Andrea Neil, 8-Isaballe Harvey, 9-Rhian Wilkinson, 13-Diana Matheson, 14-Aysha Jamani
15-Veronique Maranda, 16-Brittany Timko; FORWARDS (1): 12-Christine Sinclair.

REDDICK’S COLLEGE JERSEY TO BE RETIRED: U.S. defender Cat Reddick will have a busy 48 hours after she returns to the United States. The U.S. team will arrive in Los Angeles on the evening on Feb. 4, after which Reddick will immediately board a red-eye to Raleigh, North Carolina, arriving on the morning of Feb. 5, which just happens to be the day of one of the most anticipated games of every college basketball season – Duke at North Carolina.  What makes this game even more special is that Reddick will be honored at halftime in front of 21,000 fans when she gets her UNC No. 31 jersey retired. North Carolina retires only the jerseys of those players who earn national player of the year honors and Reddick joined that elite group when she won the MAC Hermann Trophy in January. Reddick joins such UNC legends as Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Cindy Parlow and Tisha Venturini among others to have their numbers permanently taken out of the media guide. This is the second jersey retirement for Reddick, who also had her high school No. 11 jersey retired last year, a number she wore in honor of U.S. captain Julie Foudy.  “I don’t think anyone would want to wear 31 in the future, so it’s a good thing its getting retired,” said Reddick. “I almost can’t believe that I am being included among the other players who have had their jerseys retired. I’ve tried to follow the traditions they’ve set at UNC and on the national team, and this is just a really special honor. I’m sure I will have chills, that is if I can still stand up after being awake for two days.” 

SUPER BOWL - “WOW!”: Several U.S. player rose (or at least woke up and laid in bed) at around 7:30 a.m. China time on Monday morning to watch the Super Bowl on China Central Television, the first time it has been broadcast live in China. As it turned out, they could have slept in a bit more as the game did not turn exciting until the end of the first half. While the players were excited to watch the game, especially after thinking they would miss it while in Shenzhen, listening to the commentary in Chinese was a bit different.  The most common English word during the broadcast was “Wow!,” used to describe a particularly hard hit, a great catch or pretty much any good play. Interspersed frequently in the excited Chinese were also the words “Tom Brady,” “first down,” and “fumble,” among others.  In another unusual twist, the U.S. players got the “raw feed” of the game with no commercial interruptions, meaning the usual multi-million dollar commercial time was filled with numerous shots of fans, cheerleaders and the team benches. CCTV also did its own graphics, which were more focused on the rules of the game, the size of the players and NFL Europe, than the usual diet of stats fed to the U.S. viewers.  While University of North Carolina senior Cat Reddick was a bit disappointed that the Panthers lost, University of Massachusetts graduate Briana Scurry was heard walking through the halls of the hotel yelling, “Dynasty, baby!”

SHE SAID IT: U.S. midfielder Julie Foudy, much to her amusement, after spotting 5-foot-11 forward Abby Wambach wearing game shorts that had been inadvertently shrunk a bit too much in the wash at the team hotel:

“I guess Abby took Sepp's comments to heart.”