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U.S. WNT Begin Portland Training to Prepare for Ukraine

NEW LOOK USA: The U.S. Women’s National Team will unveil a new look on Sunday when the Americans take on Ukraine live on ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m. PT, unveiling brand-new uniforms from Portland, Ore. The kit is a technical advancement in sport performance and an aesthetic change that brings the women's and men's teams closer in design. The silhouette of the uniform will stay women's specific. A number of players will also debut the new Nike Air Legend women's boot for the first time in competition. The USA will debut white jerseys with blue shorts and white socks. Fans can also follow the match live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The USA is 5-0-0 in 2005 and has not allowed a goal, while scoring 11. Forward Christie Welsh has six of those, forward Abby Wambach and midfielder Kristine Lilly have two each and defender Lori Chalupny has one, meaning the U.S. has received goals from all three lines.

MILBRETT SHOOTS FOR HISTORIC MILESTONE: If she makes the 18-player roster for the game and plays on Sunday against Ukraine, Tiffeny Milbrett has a chance to make soccer history. It wouldn’t be the first time in her career (she scored the winning goal in the 1996 Olympic gold medal game and earned her 200th cap on June 26 against Canada), but with one more goal Milbrett hits the magical 100-goal mark and joins just five other players in one of international soccer’s most exclusive clubs. Making it even more special is that the match will take place at Merlo Field at the University of Portland where Milbrett, a native of Hillsboro, Ore., scored a large chunk of her then-NCAA record 103 career goals. Milbrett left the U.S. team at the beginning of 2004 and had not played for the USA since Nov. 3, 2003, a 3-1 U.S. win over Mexico before coming on as a sub against Canada in the USA’s first domestic match of the year. If Milbrett, 32, can find the net, she will join Mia Hamm (158), Elisabetta Vignotto (107), Michelle Akers (105), Carolina Morace (105) and Kristine Lilly (103) as the only players to score 100 or more goals for their countries. To see a list of everyone one of Milbrett’s goals for the USA, as well as a statistical breakdown of her career as she goes for this historic milestone, click here. Milbrett will also be honored for her 200th cap in a brief ceremony before the match.

The U.S. Women’s National Team arrived in Portland on Sunday (July 3) overlapping for a few hours with the U.S. Men’s Team, which soon departed for Seattle and their final Gold Cup preparations. While the men encountered some wet weather in the Rose City, the women have seen nary a drop, as the spectacular Northwest summer days have bathed the U.S. team in sunshine for their trainings at the campus of the Nike World Headquaters and game venue of Merlo Field at the University of Portland. The USA had one training session on Sunday afternoon, trained twice on July 4 and played an 11v11 at Merlo on the afternoon of July 5. While the USA team did train hard on July 4, numerous U.S. players still took in the holiday festivities that evening, making the short walk from the team hotel down to the Willamette River to watch a festive 30-minute fireworks display with thousands of other Portland revelers.

U.S. defender Cat Reddick scored twice and forward Tiffeny Milbrett scored just two minutes into the scrimmage to account for the three goals in the hour-long game that featured some fantastic combination play to goal. Milbrett looked right at home on her college field, darting in and out of the defense and slipped behind to finish a pass from Aly Wagner before 120 seconds were gone. Reddick, who scored twice in the Women’s World Cup match against North Korea in 2003, duplicated the feat with both goals coming from sequences that began with corner kicks. Reddick pounded home a contested header and collected a ball in the box before scoring on a quick turn from seven yards.

Long known as one of the quietest players on the U.S. team, got Lori Chalupny, known affectionately as “Chalupa” to her teammates, to open up and expound some such topics as her play with the U.S. team this year at left back, her youth National Team experiences and why if you live in St. Louis and love soccer, you’ll want to be at Bean House on Sunday. Click here for the podcast.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANGELA: U.S. midfielder Angela Hucles turned 27 on Tuesday, July 5, causing some of the younger players to comment on how “old” she was and some of the USA’s older players to say, “27?  That’s not old at all.” Somehow, Hucles avoided the dreaded birthday ritual in which she must stand in goal with her rear end towards the players, who all get once chance to peg her with the ball. The week, however, is not over.

THE EYES HAVE IT: The USA’s scrimmage at the University of Portland on the afternoon of July 5 was a hot one, with sun beating down on the U.S. players during their hour-long scrimmage. It was a perfect time for about eight players to give a test run to the new Nike MaxSight sport-tint contact lenses. The glowing red contacts, which can be worn with or without a prescription (contact wearer Cat Reddick sported the prescription lenses, which may have helped her score twice?), provide the same protection and advantages as high-end sunglasses. While the lenses look a little spooky, all the players reported increased clarity in their vision and less glare. (Said midfielder Lorrie Fair: “Those blades of grass are pretty sharp.”) The Nike MaxSight technology captured headlines in MLB this year with the breakout start of Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts who leads the major leagues in batting. Roberts was the first player to test the new lens.

U.S. WNT fans should like the look of the new kit, but if you look close - inside the technology - it’s the players who might like it even better.  Here are some highlights of the new uniforms, proof positive that Nike never sits still in their quest to maximize the performance and comfort of the U.S. Women’s National Team:
  • Mechanical stretch woven for jersey and short for clean look.
  • Ventilation through mesh inserts (below the chest area, clavicle, neck, the whole back along the spine and under arm ventilation
  • Iconic neckline was formed to create a distinct feminine look but also to serve functionally as ventilation (clavicle and vertically along the chest) for major heat zones.
  • Horizontal seam line below chest enhances the feminine look of the jersey but also gives the possibility for the mesh ventilation insert.
  • Side seams and underarm seams were avoided to eliminate abrasion under the arm. The side panel is extended and ends in a triangular shape at the underarm sleeve.
  • Slightly angled piping that tapers to the front and back of the jersey creates a slimmer look for the female figure.
MAC IS BACK: Shannon MacMillan, the USA’s sixth all-time leading scorer, was called into the 24-player  training camp this week in her first action with the U.S. team since playing in two “Fan Celebration Tour” matches last fall.  MacMillan, a former Portland Pilot star who was an alternate on the 2004 Olympic Team, ironically played her most recent game with the USA in Portland during the FCT on Oct. 3, 2004, when she came off the bench against New Zealand at PGE Park and picked up two assists, including one to Kristine Lilly on her historic 100th career goal. MacMillan, who has one of the hardest shots in women’s soccer, has 60 career goals for the USA and scored for the USA in the 1996 Olympics, the 1999 Women’s World Cup and the 2000 Olympics. She made a miraculous recovery from ACL surgery in 2003 to make the team for the Women’s World Cup, where she played sparingly but still picked up one assist, to Cat Reddick in the match against North Korea.

CANADA FALLS: The USA is coming off an excellent win over a played-in Canadian team on June 26. The 2-0 victory featured several highlights, including the sixth goal of the year from Christie Welsh, some dynamic midfield play from Aly Wagner, the first start of the year for defender Amy LePeilbet, who went the distance at right back, a goal and a Woman of the Match honor for left back Lori Chalupny and the fourth consecutive shutout for goalkeeper Hope Solo. The match was played in wet and sloppy conditions in Virginia Beach, Va., but it didn’t stop the USA from putting together some quality soccer, as well as shutting down Canada’s attack. Canada took just one shot in the first half and has only a few dangerous moments during the game.

WE’RE No. 2!:
Despite winning all five matches it has played this year, all by shutout, the U.S. team somehow dropped behind Germany in the latest FIFA Women’s World Rankings. Germany, bolstered by their quality victories in the European Championships last month, which concluded with a win over Norway in the final, is now alone in the top spot after sharing it with the USA for three months.

STAT OF NOTE: The USA last met Ukraine in a two-game series in December of 1998. The first match on Dec. 16 was the full National Team debut for midfielder Aly Wagner. The USA won 2-1.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: U.S. defender, Birmingham, Alabama product and rabid college football fan Cat Reddick, who recently got engaged, explaining to her mom why she couldn’t have her wedding shower on her mom’s suggested date of November 19.

“I told her, ‘Mom, November 19 is Auburn-Alabama. No one would come!’”