U.S. Women’s National Team
Achieve Your Gold Tour
Nov. 5, 2008
WITH GOLD ACHIEVED, U.S. WNT CONTINUES POST-OLYMPIC TOUR: After the rousing and emotional run to the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, the U.S. Women’s National Team resumes its Achieve Your Gold Tour with three matches against Korea Republic. The U.S. won the first three games of the tour over Ireland, earning three consecutive shutouts in mid-September, and began this leg with a gritty 3-1 win over South Korea. The Achieve Your Gold Tour, which will take the gold medalists across the U.S. to celebrate with the fans, will conclude the team’s activity in 2008 which has already featured 32 matches in seven different countries. Kickoff for Wednesday’s game against South Korea is set for 7:30 p.m. ET from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Fans can follow along live at ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
WHAT A YEAR: The U.S. heads into the first match against the Koreans with a 30-1-1 record so far, the only loss coming in the opening game of the 2008 Olympics to Norway, a setback from which the U.S. famously rebounded to win the gold. In one of the most amazing and successful years in U.S. Women’s National Team history, the U.S. has won all five tournaments it has entered, taking the Four Nations Tournament in China in January, the Algarve Cup in March in Portugal, the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico in April, the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea in June and of course, the Olympic Games in August.
U.S. WNT Achieve Your Gold Tour
|Date||Opponent||Venue; City||Kickoff / Result|
|Sept. 13||Ireland||Lincoln Financial Field; Philadelphia||2-0 W|
|Sept. 17||Ireland||Giants Stadium; East Rutherford, N.J||1-0 W|
|Sept. 20||Ireland||Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.||2-0 W|
|Nov. 1||South Korea||University Stadium; Richmond, Va.||3-1 W|
|Nov. 5||South Korea||Paul Brown Stadium; Cincinnati||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Nov. 8||South Korea||Raymond James Stadium; Tampa||7:00 p.m. ET|
|Dec. 13||China||The Home Depot Center; Carson, Calif.||6 p.m. PT|
|Dec. 17||China||Ford Field; Detroit||7:30 p.m. ET|
WNT SETS WINS RECORD FOR CALENDAR YEAR: In one of the most successful years in U.S. Women’s National Team history, the U.S. women have already broken one of its most hallowed team records by winning its 29th game of the year on Sept. 20 in Chicago, Ill., against Ireland. The previous high was set in 2004 when the U.S. went 28-2-4. The U.S. women won 26 games in 2000 (with six losses and nine ties) and 25 games in 1999. The U.S. is currently 30-1-1 this year with seven matches likely left including tonight, meaning the team will surely shatter that record for wins in 2008.
GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE: In the first Olympics contested with 12 teams (there were eight in 1996 and 2000 and 10 in 2004), the tournament turned out to be one of the most competitive events in women’s soccer history. Through the first 12 first round games, just one match was decided by a margin larger than one goal, and that was the USA’s 2-0 loss to Norway. Although there were some goal explosions in the final round of group games and in the knockout rounds, the growth of the women’s game was clearly evident over the 16 days of the tournament. A full 25 percent of the teams played in the Olympics for the first time: North Korea, Canada, New Zealand and Argentina. Three of the four (excluding Canada) failed to make the quarterfinals.
GOAL GRABBERS: Despite losing leading scorer Abby Wambach (who is averaging a goal a game during her National Team career) in the last match before the Olympics, the U.S. team ended up leading the Olympics in scoring with 12 goals, one more than Brazil, which the U.S. defeated 1-0 in the gold medal game. Even more impressive, the U.S. got goals from seven different players and assists from eight different players during the Olympics, stark proof that it was a complete team effort that won the gold medal. Aside from the USA’s two center-backs – Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf – only substitutes Tobin Heath, Lauren Cheney and Aly Wagner (who played 15 minutes in the tournament) failed to notch at least a point in the tournament. Overall, the U.S. has scored 78 goals in 2008, an average of 2.44 a game. The USA’s goals this year have come from 14 different players, representative of U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage’s wish and philosophy that the U.S. attack become more unpredictable and versatile. Natasha Kai (15 goals), Lindsay Tarpley (11 goals), Carli Lloyd (9 goals) and Angela Hucles (7 goals) are all having their best scoring years. With one more goal, O’Reilly will notch her best-ever scoring year as well. Forward Amy Rodriguez, who scored two game-winning goals against Brazil this year, scored six goals in her first WNT campaign. Tobin Heath also scored her first WNT goal in 2008.
MITTS – THE PRIDE OF CINCINNATI: U.S. defender Heather Mitts will play in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, with the U.S. National Team for the second time, the first coming four years ago on the post-Olympic tour after winning the gold medal in Athens, Greece. Mitts had a stellar Olympic Tournament, starting all six games and played a key role in helping slow the vaunted Brazilian attack in the gold medal game. Mitts, who attended St. Ursula Academy, was First-Team All-State as a junior and senior and helped the Bulldogs to a 70-5-10 record during her high school career, winning the 1993 state title.
MARKGRAF ERASES GOOSE EGG, FINALLY: Well, it took 193 matches, but U.S. defender Kate Markgraf finally scored her first international goal. The long-awaited goal came in the 31st minute of the USA’s Sept. 20 match against Ireland in Bridgeview, Ill. when Markgraf stepped up and buried a penalty kick in the lower left corner. Prior to the start of the Achieve Your Gold Tour, Markgraf’s teammates had been lobbying for her to take a penalty if one came down the pipe, and after Natasha Kai was cut down in the area, all eyes turned to Markgraf. With a little prodding from fellow center-back Christie Rampone, Markgraf jogged to the penalty spot and scored her first goal in 13,352 minutes of action with the U.S. Women’s National Team. Her goal-less streak has been the topic of much humor over the years, but truth be told, Markgraf was both excited and relieved to finally back one. Markgraf by far owns the record for most games played without a goal (and will likely always hold the record), but her current caps/goals line of 193/1 has forever erased the goose-egg from the goals column. Next up? Score one from the run of play!
ACHIEVE YOUR…NCAA TITLE: The three college players on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team will not be competing on this section of the Achieve Your Gold Tour, as they are busy trying to win games for their universities, but all three played a role in the USA’s gold medal run. During 2008, U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage incorporated a number of young players into team, most notably forward Amy Rodriguez (21), who ended up starting five of the six matches at the Olympics, scoring a goal against New Zealand while terrorizing opposing back lines with her speed, strength and tenaciousness. She has scored her first six goals for the U.S. this year. Rodriguez, who helped USC to its first NCAA title in 2007, is back with the Women of Troy trying to repeat during her senior year. Across town in Los Angeles, forward Lauren Cheney is back with UCLA for her junior year, the 21-year-old striker having played her role off the bench in the final three Olympic matches to perfection. Considering she was named to the Olympic team just before the Games to replace the injured Abby Wambach, Cheney’s contribution to the gold – which included 50 solid minutes of action in the championship game, was another sign of how the team came together in China. The USA’s youngest player, midfielder Tobin Heath, saw action off the bench in three games for the U.S., but impressed in what playing time she got leading into the Olympics. She earned her first 17 caps in 2008 and provided some dynamic play on the flanks to hint that she could be an important player for the team in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
DEFENSIVE ROLES: Two young players just out of college also contributed greatly to the USA’s championship run. Defender Rachel Buehler (22), who played for the U.S. at the 2002 and 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cups, earned her first caps in 2008 and earned her place on the Olympic team with solid play all year long. She played all 90 minutes against New Zealand in China as Kate Markgraf got a valuable rest that surely helped her stellar performance in the gold medal game. Stephanie Cox (22) is a virtual woman among girls with 51 full National Team caps, six starts in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and two FIFA youth Women’s World Cups on her resume. She made a late run to make the Olympic Team after an injury to Cat Whitehill, then after an injury to Lori Chalupny in the first match, started and played 80-plus minutes in the crucial 1-0 victory of Japan in the second match of Group C.
EIGHT PLAYERS GET SECOND GOLD: The U.S. team has changed quite a bit from the squad that dramatically captured the gold medal in 2004. But eight players who were a part of that 2004 team won their second gold medal and seven played a major role in the tournament: defenders Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone, and Kate Markgraf, midfielders Shannon Boxx, Lindsay Tarpley, and Heather O’Reilly and forward Angela Hucles. Aly Wagner also won her second gold medal. Of the eight, all but Mitts, Hucles and Wagner saw significant action in Greece. This was the third Olympics for Rampone and Markgraf, who also won silver in 2000.
LAST TIME ON THE VICTORY TOUR: The last time the U.S. women went on a 10-game victory tour after an Olympic gold medal was in 2004. The U.S. team went 8-1-1 in those games, which included two matches against Iceland, two against New Zealand, two against Ireland, two against Denmark, and two against Mexico, including the tour finale which was the final match for Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain.
DALMY, ELLERTSON REJOIN SQUAD: Defenders Marian Dalmy and Tina Ellertson have joined the U.S. roster for the three matches against South Korea after returning from injury and pregnancy, respectively. Both were members of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team. Ellertson played in three matches off the bench while Dalmy played in two, starting one, which was USA’s rousing 4-1 win over Norway in the Third-Place Match. Dalmy was injured in that game and her long recovery from knee surgery is complete. Ellertson had her second child this year, another daughter, and has rounded herself into shape for a call-up for the Achieve Your Gold Tour games. With both players making appearances on Nov. 1 against South Korea, Dalmy now has six career caps while Ellertson has 31.
OPPONENT: South Korea
Current FIFA World Ranking: 23
Overall Record vs. United States: 0-4-0
Last Meeting vs. United States: Nov. 1, 2008 (3-1 U.S. win in Richmond, Va.)
Head Coach: An Iksoo
Key Players: G Jun Min Kyung, D Kim Yoo Mi, M Kwon Hah Nul, M, Kim Huiyeong, F Cha Yun Hee, F Park Hee Young.
UNITED STATES vs. SOUTH KOREA FAST FACTS: Despite South Korea being a long-time participant in Asian competitions, the U.S. has played Korea just three times in its history and will double that amount of games on the Achieve Your Gold Tour … The U.S. has had little trouble with South Korea, winning the three games by a combined 18-1, but has not played them since 1999 … South Korea failed to advance out of group play at the most recent Asian Women’s Championships that took place in Vietnam last summer … The Koreans finished group play with a 2-1 record, as did Japan and Australia, but they failed to beat up on group doormat Chinese Taipei to the extent that the Japanese and Aussies did and thus finished third in the group and failing to advance … During group play, the Koreans did pick up an impressive 3-1 win over Japan, which would eventually finish third in the tournament … Forward Park Hee Young scored twice against Japan while forward Cha Yun Hee scored the other goal … Captain Kim Yoo Mi scored one of the goals in the 2-0 win over Chinese Taipei while Hong Kyung Suk scored the other … The U.S. team has gone unbeaten in its last 25 games against teams from Asia, a streak that includes 20 wins and five ties (it also includes matches against Australia, which move several years ago from the Oceania to the Asia confederation) … The last time the U.S. lost to a team from Asia was a the 2003 Four Nations Tournament in China, a 2-0 loss to China.
U.S. WNT Quick Hits:
- Since returning from her year-long rehabilitation from a knee injury against Australia on April 27 of 2008, Heather Mitts made a run to and through the Olympics that has seen her start all 20 games the U.S. has played since her return and play 1,551 minutes, sitting out just 348 minutes of those 20 matches.
- Natasha Kai’s 15 goals this year – a career high in a calendar year for the Hawaiian -- makes her the eleventh player in U.S. history to score in double figures in a calendar year. Lindsay Tarpley, with 11 goals, is the twelfth. Mia Hamm scored in double-figures eight times and Tiffeny Milbrett and Kristine Lilly accomplished the feat four times
- With her start against Ireland on Sept. 17, U.S. captain Christie Rampone earned her 205th career cap (she now has 207), passing Tiffeny Milbrett to move into fifth place on the all-time caps list. With her start against Ireland on Sept. 20, Kate Markgraf earned her 193nd cap, moving her past Brandi Chastain for seventh on the all-time caps list (Markgraf now has 194 caps).
- Heather Mitts leads the U.S. in yellow cards this year with three, two of them coming at the 2008 Olympics.
- Kai leads the team with 15 goals, while Abby Wambach has 13 despite missing the Olympics. Kai and Wambach are tied as the team’s leading scorer in 2008 with 36 points each.
- Carli Lloyd is the only U.S. player to start all 31 games in 2008. Christie Rampone has started 30 while Heather O’Reilly and Shannon Boxx have started 28.
- After setting up Angela Hucles goal against South Korea, Heather O’Reilly has 10 assists in 2008, which surpasses her career total during her National Team career from 2002-2007 when she notched eight.
- Tarpley’s 28 goals put her tied for 13th on the USA’s all-time scoring list.
- Christie Rampone leads the U.S. in minutes played this year with 2,647 and has started 29 of the USA’s 30 matches.
- Angela Hucles has played 17 matches off the bench for the U.S. this year, the most games played as a sub for a U.S. player in 2008. Tobin Heath came off the bench 13 times, Amy Rodriguez came off the bench 14 times.