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U.S. WNT Set to Face Norway in Olympic Preview


United States Women’s National Team
Notes from Fredrikstad, Norway
July 1, 2008

U.S. WOMEN TO FACE NORWAY ON JULY 2 IN OLYMPIC PREVIEW: The U.S. Women’s National Team has been in Norway just four days, but after four trainings, the squad is ready to face its long-time rival on July 2 at Fredrikstad Stadium in Fredrikstad, Norway. The match kicks off at 6 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET). Fans can follow the action from the 42nd meeting between the two countries on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. This is the USA’s shortest international excursion of the year as the team will be in Europe for just eight days. Following the Norway match, the U.S. team will travel the next morning to Skellefteå to face Sweden on July 5. While both the U.S. and Norway are unlikely to put all their cards on the table as they will meet just 32 days later on Aug. 6 in Qinhuangdao, China, to open the Olympic Games, there are not too many secrets between these two teams. The players and coaches are quite familiar with each other, having met many times over the years. The teams met most recently at the Algarve Cup last March, a 4-0 victory that saw all four U.S. goals come in the second half, two of them on goalkeeping mistakes. The 13,000-seat Fredrikstad Stadium, which opened in 2007, will serve as an excellent venue for the match that will be just the USA’s third-ever in Norway.

U.S. WNT Scandinavia Tour
Date     Opponent         Venue                      City                                 Kickoff / ET
July 2    Norway       Fredrikstad Stadium   Fredrikstad, Norway   6 p.m. local / Noon ET
July 5    Sweden      Norrvalla Stadium       Skellefteå, Sweden    5 p.m. local / 11 a.m. ET

FOUR FRIENDLIES LEFT IN RUN UP TO OLYMPICS: The two games in Europe start a run of four friendly matches for the U.S. women leading into the Olympic Games, the final two against Brazil. The U.S. defeated an less-than-full-strength Brazil side, 1-0, at the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea, but should be facing a more representative team in the two domestic matches against the South Americans on July 13 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. (2 p.m. MT live on ESPN) and on July 16 at the University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium (7 p.m. PT live on Fox Soccer Channel).

U.S. WNT Olympic Send-Off Matches
Date       Opponent  Venue                                      City                                   Kickoff / TV
July 13    Brazil     Dick’s Sporting Goods Park    Commerce City, Colo.  2 p.m. MT / ESPN
July 16    Brazil     Torero Stadium                          San Diego, Calif.           7 p.m. PT / Fox Soccer Channel

WAMBACH TWO AWAY FROM 100: With four matches left before the 2008 Olympics, U.S. forward Abby Wambach is approaching a unique milestone. At 98 career goals in 123 games, Wambach’s prolific scoring rate – the best goals-to-game ratio in U.S. history in fact – puts her just two away from joining four other U.S. players in the 100 Goal Club. Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (129), Michelle Akers (105) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100) are four of eight players in the history of women’s soccer to score 100 international goals. Wambach would be the ninth and one has to believe she will pass Milbrett and Akers at some point soon, before taking aim at Lilly, who may still have some international matches left in her after the birth of her first child due in July. At 28, Wambach has averaged about 18 goals a year for the past four years, but with the onset of the new professional league in 2009, the National Team may not play as many matches in the coming years. Still, with three years until the next World Cup and four years until the next Olympics, Hamm’s world record 158 goals may not be out of reach.

FIRST MATCH IN NORWAY SINCE 2000: The U.S. women last played in Norway in 2000, playing the first game about 200 miles above the Arctic Circle in Tromso (1-1 draw), and the second in Oslo (1-2 loss). Those were the first-ever matches for the U.S. in Norway. While the U.S. is 22-18-2 all-time against Norway, the Americans have never won in Norway and could accomplish that feat for the first time on Wednesday night. The Norwegians actually own the best record against the U.S. of any team in the world. China has had the most success of any other team, defeating the U.S. eight times. Germany, Italy and Denmark have four all-time wins over the U.S. and Sweden and Canada have three each.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster
2008 Scandinavia Tour
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.);
DEFENDERS (6): Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.), Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), Heather Mitts (Cincinnati, Ohio), Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.);
MIDFIELDERS (8): Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.), Kacey White (Arlington, Texas);
FORWARDS (4): Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.), Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.).

Norway Women’s National Team Roster (Club)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Erika Skarbø (Arna-Bjørnar), Ingrid Hjelmseth (Asker), Christine Nilsen (Kolbotn);
DEFENDERS (7): Ane Stangeland Horpestad (Klepp), Gunhild Følstad (Trondheims-Ørn) , Siri Nordby (Røa), Trine Rønning (Kolbotn), Marita Skammelsrud Lund (Team Strømmen) , Runa Vikestad (Kolbotn), Marit Christensen (Røa)
MIDFIELDERS (4): Ingvild Stensland (Kopparberg/Göteborg FC), Marie Knutsen (Røa), Lene Storløkken (Team Strømmen), Anneli Giske (Fløya);
FORWARDS (8): Solveig Gulbrandsen (Kolbotn) , Isabell Herlovsen (Kolbotn), Melissa Wiik (Asker), Leni Larsen Kaurin (Turbine Potsdam), Guro Knutsen (Røa), Elise Thorsnes (Arna-Bjørnar), Lene Mykjåland (Røa), Kristin Lie (Trondheims-Ørn).

OPPONENT CAPSULE: Norway
Current FIFA World Ranking: 5
Overall Record vs. USA: 18-22-2
Last Meeting vs. USA: March 10, 2008 (a 4-0 U.S. win at the 2008 Algarve Cup in Portugal)
Head Coach: Bjarne Berntsen

Key Players: G Erika Skarbø, D Ane Stangeland Horpestad, D Gunhild Følstad, D Runa Vikestad, M Ingvild Stensland, M Marie Knutsen, F Solveig Gulbrandsen, F Isabell Herlovsen, F Melissa Wiik.

USA vs. Norway Fast Facts: This match marks the meeting of the first and fifth ranked teams in the world according to the latest FIFA Women’s World Rankings … During the last meeting at the 2008 Algarve Cup, the U.S. got goals from Abby Wambach, Natasha Kai, Heather O’Reilly and Amy Rodriguez … This match marks the first-ever as a head coach of a full National Team in Scandinavia for Swede Pia Sundhage … The U.S. has defeated Norway nine times in a row, a streak that would have been unthinkable in the 1990s … Norway’s longest winning streak against the U.S. is four, achieved twice previously … Norway’s last win over the U.S. was on March 4, 2002, at the Algarve Cup … Like the U.S., Norway has an ambitious pre-Olympic schedule … They will play Sweden on July 20 and Germany on July 23, both in Norway … Norway’s Isabel Herlovsen is from Fredrikstad and Marita Skammelsrud Lund is also from the area … Norway’s Solveig Gulbrandsen, one of the world’s top center midfielders, is now being utilized more as a forward … Norway lists four midfielders and eight forwards on its roster, but it’s 4-5-1 formation features flank midfielders / wingers who get high up the field … Norway has for all intents and purposes qualified for the 2009 European Women’s Championships, which will be played in Finland, with one qualifying match left to play away at second place Russia …Norway has won all seven of its Group 6 games, out-scoring its opposition 26-0, and Russia would need full points from its final three matches just to tie Norway, which needs only a draw in its last match … Like the U.S., Norway has brought its 18-player Olympic roster for this match, plus its four alternates … Five Norwegian players play for the Kolbotn club, a team coach by U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage in 2004.

Quick Hits
• Abby Wambach leads the U.S. in scoring this year with 12 goals, but Natasha Kai (11) and Lindsay Tarpley (9) are right on her heels.
• Wambach has scored eight of her 98 career goals against Norway.
• Carli Lloyd is the only U.S. player to start all 18 matches so far this year. Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone have started 17 each.
• The U.S. has averaged almost three goals a game in 2008, while allowing just over half a goal a game.
• Lindsay Tarpley is just four caps away from 100. Shannon Boxx is eight caps away from the century mark and Heather O’Reilly has 10 more to go. Christie Rampone could get her 200th during the Olympics.
• Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone have each played 1,463 minutes this year to lead the team
• By the time the Olympics begin, the U.S. will have played 22 matches this year. In 2007, the team played 15 games before the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
• By playing in the Peace Queen Cup Final against Canada on June 21, Christie Rampone moved past Brandi Chastain into sixth place on the USA’s all-time caps list with 193.
• Midfielder Angela Hucles has two goals this year, both dramatic game-winners in second half stoppage time.

RARE FRIENDLY IN EUROPE: The U.S. has played 58 matches in Asia since the formation of the program in 1985 as compared to 92 in Europe, but 51 of those games have come at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, six were at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup and six at the 2004 Athens Olympics. In addition, 22 of those matches came before the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup, meaning the U.S. has played just 19 friendly matches in Europe over the past 14 years. The U.S.A has not played a friendly in Europe since 2001, partly due to the need to play matches in Asia to prepare for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2008 Olympics in China.

GROUP G AWAITS: The U.S. and Norway will be favored to come out Group G at the 2008 Olympics, but Japan and New Zealand will have something to stay about that. After the U.S. and Norway meet on Aug. 6, they will both take on the Nadeshiko and the Kiwis.

2008 Olympics Group G Schedule
Date   Local / ET                          Match                                                   Venue
06/08 5:00 p.m. / 5 a.m.         Japan vs. New Zealand                        Qinhuangdao
06/08 7:45 p.m. / 7:45 a.m.   Norway vs. United States                      Qinhuangdao
09/08 5:00 p.m. / 5 a.m.         United States vs. Japan                        Qinhuangdao
09/08 7:45 p.m. / 7:45 a.m.   New Zealand vs. Norway                      Qinhuangdao
12/08 7:45 p.m. / 7:45 a.m.   Norway vs. Japan                                   Shanghai
12/08 7:45 p.m. / 7:45 a.m.    United States vs. New Zealand          Shenyang

Stat of Note
Since the U.S. started its current nine-game winning streak against Norway on July 21, 2002, with a 4-0 win in Blaine, Minn., the U.S. has outscored Norway 25-4.

FREDRIKSTAD VIDEO: The U.S. team is ready for the renewal of a storied rivalry in women’s sports and ussoccer.com’s all_access video got some pre-game comments from the U.S. players as they prepared for the match in beautiful Fredrikstad, which sits on the Glomma River in southeast Norway.

KRIEGERMEISTERIN: U.S. defender Ali Krieger was named as an alternate for the 2008 Olympic Team, capping a memorable year for the 23-year-old out of Penn State University. Check out the WNT Blog to find out about Krieger’s unique accomplishments.

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