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U.S. Women Set for Semifinal Clash Against Japan at Workers Stadium

United States Women’s National Team
Notes from Beijing, China
Aug. 17, 2008

U.S. WOMEN SET FOR REMATCH AGAINST JAPAN, THIS TIME IN OLYMPIC SEMIFINAL: The U.S. team will play in its fourth city of the 2008 Olympics, taking on Japan in the semifinal at Beijing Workers Stadium on Monday, Aug. 18. The match kicks off at 9 p.m. local / 9 a.m. ET and will be broadcast live on MSNBC, Universal HD and the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel. Fans can also follow on’s MatchTracker. The Americans have made the semifinal round in all nine world championships FIFA has held for women’s soccer, including the last four Olympic Games. The U.S. team knew it would have to win its group and quarterfinal match to earn a trip to the host city for the semifinal, and they did just that, arriving in the Olympic Village on the afternoon of Aug. 16. The players trained for an hour on Aug. 17 at Beijing Normal University and will have a long wait on game day for the match that doesn’t kick off until 9 p.m. local time on Monday. The quarterfinals saw the elimination of the host country, 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup finalists and the world’s third-ranked team Sweden, as well as the world’s fifth ranked team, Norway. Somewhat appropriately, the Olympic semifinals contain a representative from Europe, South America, CONCACAF and Asia.

OLD CHINA MEETS NEW CHINA AT BEIJING WORKERS STADIUM: The U.S. team did not get a chance to train at Beijing Workers Stadium, nicknamed Gongti, and will see it for the first time when they arrive for the match. Built in 1959 as one of the Ten Great Buildings constructed for the 10th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, it was renovated in 2004. The stadium holds about 70,000 fans. The NFL will play a pre-season exhibition there in August of 2009. The stadium has already played host to two first round women’s matches, two first-round men’s matches (including the U.S. Men’s match against Nigeria), two men’s quarterfinals and will host the women’s bronze and gold medal games. The men’s gold medal game will be played at the Bird’s Nest.

2008 Olympic Women’s Soccer Semifinal Matches
Aug. 18
Match-Up                      Venue            Kickoff
Brazil vs. Germany      Shanghai      6 a.m. ET
USA vs. Canada          Beijing           9 a.m. ET

U.S. Women’s National Team
2008 Olympic Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 18-Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), 1-Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.);  
DEFENDERS (6): 4-Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.), 17-Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), 14-Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), 15-Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), 2-Heather Mitts (Cincinnati, Ohio), 3-Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.);
MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 13-Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), 16-Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), 11-Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), 9-Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), 10-Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.);
FORWARDS (3): 12-Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), 6-Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), 8-Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.).

Japan Women’s National Team
2008 Olympic Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Miho Fukumoto, 18-Ayumi Kaihori;            
DEFENDERS (5): 2-Yukari Kinga, 3-Hiromi Ikeda, 4-Azusa Iwashimizu, 7-Kozue Ando, 14-Kyoko Yano,          
MIDFIELDERS (7): 5-Miyuki Yanagita, 6-Tomoe Kato, 8-Aya Miyama, 10-Homare Sawa, 13-Aryumi Hara, 15-Mizuho
Sakaguchi, 16-Rumi Utsugi.
FORWARDS (4): 17-Yuki Nagasato, 9-Eriko Arakawa, 11-Shinobu Ohno, 12-Karina Maruyama.

Current FIFA World Ranking: 10  
Olympic History: 1996 (Group Play), 2000 (Did not qualify), 2004 (Quarterfinals)
Overall Record vs. USA: 0-18-3
Last Meeting vs. USA: Aug. 9, 2009 (a 1-0 U.S. win in Qinhuangdao, China, at the 2008 Olympics)
Head Coach: Norio Sasaki

Key Players: G Miho Fukumoto, D Yukari Kinga, D Hiromi Ikeda, D Azusa Iwashimizu, D Kozue Ando, M Miyuki Yanagita, M Shinobu Ohno, M Aya Miyama, M Homare Sawa, F Yuki Nagasato, F Mizuho Sakaguchi, F Eriko Arakawa.

USA vs. Japan Fast Facts: Japan’s run in the Olympics is its best ever in a world championship and the first time it has made a semifinal of a FIFA tournament … The USA and Japan will be playing for the second time in 10 days after the USA’s 1-0 victory in Group G play on Aug. 9 in Qinhuangdao … Carli Lloyd scored the USA’s lone goal in that match on a blast from the top of the penalty box in the 27th minute … The USA outshot Japan 18-9 in that match and had nine corner kicks to Japan’s four, but the Japanese got a fantastic game from goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto and created a number dangerous scoring chances themselves … The USA and Japan met in the quarterfinals of the 2004 Olympics, a 2-1 U.S. victory … This match will be the USA’s fifth meeting with Japan in world championship play as the teams also met in the 1991 and 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments … Japan’s captain Homare Sawa has been one of the best players in the tournament so far … A former WUSA star for the Atlanta Beat, she is Japan’s all-time greatest player having played in four Women’s World Cups and three Olympics … She has played well over 100 games for her country and scored more than 70 goals … She was the MVP of the 2008 Asian Women’s Cup and is the key to Japan’s attack from her center midfield spot.

Quick Hits
•    Christie Rampone hit 200 career caps for the USA during the Olympics in the victory over New Zealand while Shannon Boxx hit 100 in the victory over Canada. Heather O’Reilly will be playing in her 99th career match in the semifinal.
•    Japan has had an excellent series of results heading into the Olympics, going 9-3-0 in matches in 2008.
•    This year, Japan owns wins over North Korea, China, Russia, Australia, Norway and the Netherlands, and finished third in the Asian Women’s Championships last June.
•    Japan has scored a tournament-leading nine goals (although one was an own goal) and six different players have scored, led by captain Homare Sawa, who has found the net three times.
•    Aya Miyama, Yukari Kinga, Shinobu Ohno, Aryumi Hara and Yuki Nagasato have scored for Japan as well.
•    The USA’s seven goals have come from six different players.
•    Lori Chalupny, who is likely to start against Japan, did not play in the group match against the Japanese as she was recovering from a knock on the head she received in the first match of the tournament. She is fully recovered and has played all 180 minutes of the last two matches. Chalupny’s replacement in that match, Stephanie Cox, picked up the game-winning assist on Carli Lloyd’s goal.
•    This will be the fourth Olympics in a row that the USA will meet a team in the knockout round that they also played in group play.
•    In 1996, the USA tied China 0-0 in group play and won the rematch in the gold medal game by a 2-1 score. In 2000, the USA opened the Olympics with a 2-0 win over Norway, but lost to the Norwegians by a 3-2 score in overtime in the gold medal match. In the 2004 Olympics, the USA defeated Brazil 2-0 in group play and also won the gold medal game, this time by a 2-1 score in overtime.

JAPAN RISES TO TOP OF ASIA: Japan’s run to the semifinal has perhaps signaled a shift in power in Asia. Japan finished third at the 2008 Asian Women’s Championships behind China and North Korea, but its run in the Olympics may be a harbinger for future world and Asian tournaments. Certainly the China and North Korea would have been favored over the Japanese to advance furthest in the tournament, but some fantastic soccer and tremendous heart from Japan has produced seven goals over the last two games and a ton of confidence for the Nadeshiko. If Japan wins the semifinal, the three victories will mark its most ever in a FIFA world championship.

REFEREES FOR USA-JAPAN: The referee for the USA-Japan match will be the same as for the American’s opener against Norway as Nicole Petignat of Switzerland will run the middle. Cristin Cini of Italy and Karine Solana Vives will be the assistant. Thai Pannipar Kamnueng will be the fourth official.

Stat of Note
The USA has seven goals so far in the tournament. In the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, the USA had seven goals through the first four matches. In the 2004 Olympics, the USA scored eight goals in the first four matches.