Oct. 12, 2007
U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from St. Louis, Mo.
U.S. WOMEN FINISH YEAR WITH THREE MATCHES AGAINST MEXICO: The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team hits the field for the first match since the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup when it takes on Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, which will be the sixth-ever game for the U.S. women indoors and second in a true domed stadium. The last four games indoors have been played in facilities with retractable roofs. Fans can follow the action on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker at 7 p.m. CT / 8 p.m. ET. The USA’s first-ever game indoors came in 1993 at the Pontiac Silverdome as the U.S. women played Canada to test out the grass that would be used for matches in the 1994 World Cup. This will be the first of three matches against the USA’s southern neighbors and it will cap off a year that has seen the U.S. women go 17-1-3, with the lone loss coming to Brazil in the semifinal of the Women’s World Cup. The USA is undefeated at home this year at 8-0-0. The U.S. women will finish the year having played 24 matches, the most since the Olympic year of 2004, and prior to that, most since the 2000 Olympic year, when the team played a record 41 games. This will be the third match in St. Louis for the USA but first since 1998, a 1-1 tie with Germany at the St. Louis Soccer Park. The first-ever match was also played at the Soccer Park, a 4-1 win over France in April of 1996. After the St. Louis match, the USA will then travel west to face the Mexico on Oct. 17 at PGE Park in Portland, Ore. with a 7 p.m. PT kickoff. This will be the 10th match for the U.S. women in Portland, five of them coming at PGE Park, although the most recent game in the City of Roses was at the University of Portland, a 7-0 win over Ukraine in July of 2005. The final match will take place on Oct. 20 at University Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M. with a 4:30 p.m. MT. The U.S. women have played just once previously in New Mexico, also against Mexico, a 3-0 win in May of 2004 at University Stadium.
U.S. Women Indoors
|1993||Detroit||Pontiac Silverdome||Canada||3-0 W|
|2000||Phoenix||Bank One||Japan||1-1 T|
|2002||Seattle||Safeco Field||Panama||9-0 W|
|2002||Seattle||Safeco Field||Costa Rica||7-0 W|
|2004||Houston||Reliant Stadium||Ireland||5-0 W|
2007 Women’s National Team Mexico Series
|Oct. 13||Mexico||Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis, Mo.)||7 p.m. CT|
|Oct. 17||Mexico||PGE Park (Portland, Ore.)||7 p.m. ET|
|Oct. 20||Mexico||University Stadium (Albuquerque, N.M.)||4:30 p.m. MT|
CHALUPNY COMES HOME: After her first Women’s World Cup, where she was one of the USA’s best players, midfielder Lori Chalupny comes to St. Louis to play her first-ever match with the National Team in her hometown. Chalupny played her club soccer for reknowned club JB Marine, where she played for eight years, winning a U-23 national championship in 2004. She was an NSCAA and Parade All-American as a junior and senior at Nerinx Hall where she was also All-Conference and All-State selection as a sophomore, junior and senior, helping the Markers to an undefeated regular season as a junior. Chalupny has started 20 of the 21 games she has played this year, one of just three players to play in all 21 matches so far. She has four goals, including two in the Women’s World Cup, the game-winner against Nigeria and one against Norway in the third-place match.
LOOKING TO THE OLYMPICS: The dates and venues for the 2008 CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament have yet to be confirmed, but the competition will likely take place early next year. The tournament will feature six countries in two groups of three teams each. The USA, Canada and Mexico get byes into the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification Final Round and will be joined by two teams from the Caribbean and one team from Central America. The top two teams will qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Cuba, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago have advanced to the second round of Caribbean CONCACAF Qualifying, where they will be joined by either the Cayman Islands, Haiti or Puerto Rico, which will then play their group games later this month. Those four teams will then play for two spots in the final tournament. The 2008 Olympic Women’s Soccer tournament will be staged from Aug. 6-21 in five Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang and Qinhuangdao. The finals for men and women will be held in Beijing which has three venues: the Workers' Stadium, the Olympic Sports Center Stadium and the National Stadium. The venues outside Beijing are: Shanghai Stadium, Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium, Shenyang Olympic Sport Center Stadium, and Qinhuangdao Olympic Sports Center Stadium. The women’s soccer tournament will feature 12 teams in 2008, up from 10 in 2004 and eight in 2000 and 1996.
HALF-DOZEN TO BEIJING: So far, half of the 12 teams to compete in the 2008 Olympics have been decided. Argentina won the South American Women’s Championships and a berth to the Olympics (forcing Brazil into a playoff against the second place team from Africa). North Korea and Japan have qualified from Asia. Germany and Norway, by virtue of their finishes at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, have also qualified, while Sweden and Denmark will have a two-game playoff to determine Europe’s third representative. That leaves the two representatives from CONCACAF, the winner of African qualifying (Ghana is currently leading the group) and one country from Oceania still to be determined.
ANOTHER BANNER YEAR FOR ABBY WAMBACH: Abby Wambach continues to climb up the all-time U.S. scoring charts, having pounded in 83 goals in 102 games, the best goals-per-game ratio in U.S. history. She has 17 goals in 2007 to lead the team, tied for second-most she’s ever scored in a calendar year (she had 17 in 2006 and 31 in 2004), with three games left to play. Her six goals in the Women’s World Cup were the third-most ever in a Women’s World Cup tournament, and the most since Michelle Akers (10) and Carin Gabarra (7) lit up the 1991 WWC. She has scored in 11 of the 18 games she’s played this year with six multiple goal games to her credit. Wambach has 22 multiple goal games in her career, and has cemented her status as one of the world’s premier goal scorers. Wambach is years away from perhaps challenging Mia Hamm’s all-time record of 158, but the scoring pace of the 27-year-old has been remarkable. She has average a goal for every 90 minutes she plays for the USA, equal to a goal a game, and in her three world championship tournaments – two World Cups and one Olympics – has proven to be a big game player. She has led the USA in scoring in all three tournaments, including her six-goal Silver Shoe-winning performance in China. Of Wambach’s 83 career goals, 36 have been with her head, a remarkable percentage of 43%. The USA is also 53-1-3 in games in which Wambach scores. If she scores three more goals this year, she would become just the sixth U.S. player to score 20 or more goals in a calendar year (although she was one of the pervious five) and the first player to do it twice. Mia Hamm had nine years of double figure goals, but scored highs of 18 (1997), 19 (1995) and 20 (1998) during her historic career.
USA vs. MEXICO HISTORY: The USA and Mexico have already met once this year, a 5-0 U.S. win in Foxborough, Mass. last April 14. The five games the teams played in 2004 tied a U.S. record for second most matches against a single country in a calendar year (the USA played China five times in 1991, Canada five times in 2000 and Norway eight times in 2000). The USA is 19-0-0 all-time vs. Mexico, but Mexico is a country working hard to improve on the world’s stage. Considering where the program was prior to 1999, head coach Leo Cuellar’s team has to be seen as one of women’s soccer success stories of the new millennium. In 1999, Mexico became the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for a Women’s World Cup, but their failure to qualify for the last two Women’s World Cups, losing two-game playoffs to Japan both in 2003 and 2007, has made the program hungrier for more success. Mexico, which shocked Canada to qualify for the 2004 Olympics, now has its sights set on Olympic qualification for Beijing ’08. (Mexico was also the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for the Olympic women’s soccer tournament). Mexico and Japan squared off on March 10 and 17 of this year with the aggregate score deciding the berth to China. Mexico lost the first match in Japan, 2-0, and came back to win the return leg, 2-1, but it wasn’t enough and Japan went through to China by a 3-2 score.
Ocampo Leads Attack
While usually out-paced athletically by the U.S. team, Mexico does try to play an exciting style featuring a unique mixture of Mexican-Americans and homegrown talent. Mexico is at its best when star forward Maribel Dominguez is on the top of her game, but she is not on the roster for these three matches and the Mexicans will have to look to crafty youngster Monica Ocampo for goals, as well as to veteran Guadalupe Worbis, who leads the roster with 13 career scores. Ocampo played very well at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia, showing signs that Dominguez may get some help in the goal-scoring department. Ocampo scored on the USA in her team’s 3-1 loss on Sept. 13, 2006, in Rochester, N.Y. Dominguez has scored three of Mexico’s six all-time goals against the USA. Former UCLA star Iris Mora has one, former Notre Dame star Monica Gonzalez has one, that off a penalty kick, and Ocampo has the other. Gonzalez, Mexico’s anchor at central defender, is usually charged with shadowing Wambach, but she missed the last match when the USA fired in five goals. She is one of the few players in the world who can match Wambach for size, and the former WUSA player always has a physical battle with the USA’s top striker. Gonzalez, although born in the USA, has often captained Mexico and been one of its best players for a while now, scoring 10 career goals. Gonzalez will look to fellow defender Rubi Sandoval, who played her college soccer at Cal State Fullerton, as well as to veteran Luz Saucedo for help in slowing down the U.S. attack. Mexico does have two quality goalkeepers in Pamela Tajonar and Sophia Perez, both of whom played college soccer in the USA. Each played one of the matches in the playoff against Japan and each always seems makes a series of spectacular saves whenever these two teams get together. Mexico is ranked 22nd in the world, but every country ranked above them was either in the 2007 Women’s World Cup or is European.