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U.S. WNT Gear Up for Opening Match of Busy Summer vs. Sweden on July 15

SUMMER STARTS WITH SWEDEN: The U.S. Women’s National Team is definitely tired of kicking each other in practice and, to a player, is excited to have a world-class opponent to play as the USA meets Sweden on Saturday, July 15 (tickets) at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. CT and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 with JP Dellacamera and Julie Foudy, both just back from the World Cup in Germany, providing the commentary. Fans can also follow the match on’s MatchTracker. The game will mark the kickoff of a domestic schedule that could include up to seven matches leading into CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The qualifying tournament will be staged in the United States at the end of November with dates and venues still to be confirmed. The USA has not played a  match since a 1-0 victory vs. Japan on May 9 in Osaka.

UNDEFEATED IN ’06: The U.S. Women’s National Team carries a 6-0-3 record in 2006 into the Sweden game, scoring 18 goals while allowing just two. In fact, the USA has yet to lose in regulation under head coach Greg Ryan, who has a 14-0-4 record since taking over the team at the 2005 Algarve Cup. The only blemishes are a penalty kick setback vs. Germany in the 2006 Algarve Cup Final after a 0-0 tie in regulation, and three more scoreless draws with France, China and Australia.

SOLO KNOWS SWEDEN: U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo will be very familiar with the Swedish players, having played in the Swedish First Division in 2004 with Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC, home club to two of the players on the Swedish roster for this match. Solo played with or against almost all of the Swedish stars and had a great experience living and playing in Europe. Said Solo about the Swedish players: “They are all big, they are all strong, they are all good with the ball and they really love soccer.” Center Circle recently caught up with the U.S. goalkeeper in the latest In 3’s.

WAGNER CLOSES IN ON 100: U.S. midfielder Aly Wagner, who is sitting on 97 career caps, could become the next U.S. player to hit 100 career appearances if she plays in all three July games. Wagner would become the 18th U.S. player to play 100 times for her country. The San Jose, Calif., native battled knee injuries early in her career, and was in the Residency Training Camps for the 1999 Women’s World Cup and 2000 Olympics, but didn’t make either team, before making her first World Championship roster for the 2003 Women’s World Cup. She was also a member of the 2004 Olympic gold medal team.

HOW DOES SHE DO IT?: It’s rare that the oldest player on the team is the leading scorer, but 34-year-old Kristine Lilly leads the USA in scoring this year with five goals and four assists. The U.S. captain, who was named the 2005 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year, is in the running for the award again this year as she leads the team towards what would be her record fifth Women’s World Cup.

THAT’S HOT: With kickoff for USA vs. Sweden set for 5 p.m., the forecast for that Saturday calls for temperatures in the high 80s, and if you’ve ever been to Minnesota in July, the sticky heat is akin to the Amazon jungle. While the temperatures in Stockholm for that day are forecast at a balmy 78 degrees, odds are that the Swedes, accustomed to a bit colder weather, will be feeling the heat. The last time the USA played a summer match vs. a Scandinavian team in Blaine, they came away with a 4-0 win vs. Norway in 2002.

HOT OFF THE PRESSES: The new 2006 U.S. Women’s National Team Yearbook is currently being printed and will be ready for sale at the USA’s match against Sweden. The full-color book, which features Shannon Boxx, Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach on the cover, contains fun profiles of your favorite Women’s National Team players, as well as some fantastic studio-type photographs of the players taken earlier this year in soccer uniforms and their everyday outfits. As usual, it is also chocked full of interesting U.S. Women’s National Team facts and information. If you can’t make it to a game, the 2006 WNT Yearbooks will be available soon at