CHICAGO (Saturday, November 2, 2002) - Forward Abby Wambach has been called in to replace forward Heather O'Reilly on the U.S. Women's Gold Cup roster and will be available for action tonight when the U.S. faces Panama at 7:30 p.m. PT at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wash., in the final Group 1 match for the U.S. women.
O'Reilly strained a hip flexor against Mexico on Oct. 27, an injury that would have put her on the sidelines for the entire tournament, necessitating the call-up of Wambach, whose addition was approved by CONCACAF yesterday. Wambach, the 2002 WUSA Rookie of the Year for the Washington Freedom, has scored four goals in seven career games with the full national team. She was on the USA's Nike U.S. Women's Cup roster, but was initially left off the Women's Gold Cup roster as Tiffeny Milbrett was added. O'Reilly, a star of the 2002 U-19 FIFA Women's World Championship, who at 17 became the second youngest U.S. player to appear in a Women's World Cup qualifying match, returned home to catch up on her studies at East Brunswick High School in New Jersey.
The addition of Wambach marks the third change in the U.S. roster due to injury. Defender Danielle Slaton elected to have knee surgery before the tournament and was replaced by Jenny Benson and goalkeeper Siri Mullinix suffered a thumb injury before the tournament started, making room for LaKeysia Beene.
Should the U.S. defeat Panama tonight in a match broadcast live on Fox Sports World, the Americans will win the group and face the second place team from Group 2 in the semifinal on Nov. 6 at Safeco Field at 7 p.m. PT. Should the U.S. win that match, it will earn one of CONCACAF's two berths to the 2003 Women's World Cup in China. All of the U.S. matches can also be followed live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.