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U.S. Women Gear Up for Match Against Canada on Sunday

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from Charlottesville, Virginia

U.S. WOMEN GEAR UP FOR CANADA IN CHARLOTTESVILLE: The U.S. Women’s National Team conducted its second “double-day” on Tuesday, as training camp in Charlottesville, Va., continues in preparation for the team’s match with old rival Canada on Sunday, June 26, at the Virginia Beach SportsPlex.  The match will be televised live on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. ET and is being hosted by the Virginia Beach Mariners of the USL First Division and the City of Virginia Beach. Fans can also follow the game on’s MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. team will start to taper into the match Wednesday, as U.S. head coach Greg Ryan gave them the day off from training, scheduling only an afternoon pool workout.  The players definitely earned the rest after two days that featured sharp morning sessions followed by full-field scrimmages at Klockner Stadium on the University of Virginia campus.  The weather has been stunningly perfect for the U.S. trainings.  It has been warm, but not hot, comfortable but not humid and a mild breeze has blown through trainings. 

FULL FIELD FURY: Monday’s 11 v. 11 game was intense as bodies were flying with several thunderous collisions (most involving U.S. forward Abby Wambach). Marci Miller took an elbow to the nose, forcing the blood-covered midfielder to leave the match.  Wambach scored the first goal powering through three defenders in the box before slipping the ball in the left corner.  Heather O’Reilly also scored with a bit of magic, back-heeling the ball past a defender and the goalkeeper from close range after a corner kick had bounced to her.  Kristine Lilly had the final, and best, goal collecting a clearance outside the penalty area before hitting a viscous dipping volley into the upper left corner from about 25 yards out.  The Tuesday afternoon scrimmage was just as physical, but the match produced just one goal, a long-range free kick from Angela Hucles.

FIRST DOMESTIC MATCH OF 2005: The game vs. Canada will be the first domestic match of the year and the USA’s first match inside the country since Dec. 8, 2004, in what was the last game for legends Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm.  The U.S. women opened their 2005 schedule with a highly successful trip to the Algarve Cup in Portugal, winning all four games while not allowing a goal. The U.S. defeated Germany 1-0 in the championship game and head into the Canada match with a 4-0-0 record on the year.  Ryan called in 24 players to training camp as the USA will practice in Charlottesville, Va., from Monday through Thursday morning before bussing to Virginia Beach on Thursday afternoon.  Ryan will choose 18 players on Thursday or Friday to suit up against Canada on Sunday.

NEW LOOK USA: Of the 24 players called into training camp in Charlottesville, Va., by Greg Ryan, only 11 were on the USA’s 2004 Olympic championship team. A full half of the players are 24 or younger, a trend that should continue in 2005 as Ryan continues the process of identifying players who can help the USA qualify for the 2007 Women’s World Cup in China.

HUCLES IS HOME: How often does a player get to train on her college game field with the U.S. Women’s National Team and then play a game in her hometown?  Not often, but if Angela Hucles is chosen to the 18-player roster, she’ll get that chance.  The former UVa All-American has certainly enjoyed gliding over UVa’s Klockner Field during the USA’s week of training in Charlottesville.  Hucles scored many of her 59 career goals for the Cavaliers at Klockner and is still the school’s all-time leading scorer.  The 2004 Olympic gold medallist will then travel with the team to Virginia Beach, where she was a high school All-American at Norfolk Academy, scoring a mind-boggling 204 goals with 106 assists. Needless to say, all teammates with extra tickets are asked to report directly to Hucles.

MILBRETT SHOOTS FOR TWO HISTORIC MILESTONES: With the recall of U.S. forward Tiffeny Milbrett to the national team comes the possibility for two remarkable career milestones.  If she makes the 18-player roster and plays against Canada on Sunday, she will become the fourth U.S. player (and fourth player in soccer history) to play 200 times for her country.  Milbrett is also on 99 career goals and, with one more, will join just five other players in the 100-goal club. Milbrett left the team at the beginning of 2004 and has not played for the USA since Nov. 3, 2003, a 3-1 U.S. win over Mexico.  If Milbrett, 32, can regain the form that made her one of the best players in the world in 2000 and 2001 when she won back-to-back U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year awards, it will add a huge boost to the already potent U.S. attack and provide numerous challenges for U.S. opponents.

NEW MAN AT THE HELM: Sunday’s game also marks the first-ever domestic match for new U.S. head coach Greg Ryan, and technically, his first official match as head coach.  Ryan, who coached the team at the Algarve Cup with an “interim” tag, was officially named the head coach and technical director on April 8, 2005, taking over from April Heinrichs who coached the team since early in 2000.  Ryan is a long-time Division I women’s college head coach who served on Heinrich’s staff last year during the highly successful run to the 2004 Olympic gold medal. 

RYAN THE BADGER: Ryan began his coaching career in 1983 as an assistant with the Colorado College men’s team in between North American Soccer League (NASL) indoor and outdoor seasons.  Following the completion of his professional career in 1985, Ryan began his head coaching career with Wisconsin, where he lead the Badgers to a 108-32-12 record and five trips to the NCAA tournament, almost all when just 12 teams made the tournament. Ryan led UW to two appearances in the NCAA Final Four (1988 and 1991) and one trip to NCAA Championship Game in 1991, where the Badgers fell to UNC, 3-1.

RYAN THE STINGER: Ryan was a First-Team All-American at SMU in 1978, after which he went on to play six seasons in the NASL from 1979-1984.  Ryan started his pro career with the Tulsa Roughnecks before being traded to the New York Cosmos in 1979, where he played with Franz Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Georgio Chinaglia.  Ryan was then was traded to the Chicago Sting, where he played his final five pro seasons.  Ryan won an NASL title with the Sting, coming off the bench in Soccer Bowl ’81 as Chicago won the championship in a shootout over the New York Cosmos after tying 0-0 in regulation.

WHO’S IN GOAL?: With Briana Scurry stepping back from the National Team, the battle for the USA’s No. 1 goalkeeper spot is wide open. Considering that when you combine the caps of all the goalkeepers who have played for the USA since Scurry debuted in 1994, the total adds up to just 18 more matches than Scurry herself has played, the next ‘keeper will be stepping into some big shoes. Who will it be?  Hope Solo and Nicole Barnhart played extremely well at the 2005 Algarve Cup, but 2004 Olympic back-up Kristin Luckenbill is also in the mix.  You cannot count out young guns Jen Branam, a starter for the San Diego Spirit in the final year of the WUSA, and Ashlyn Harris, the starter on the 2002 and 2004 U-19 teams that competed in the FIFA youth world championships.  Head coach Greg Ryan and his staff has two years to decide on the starter, but with such talent and depth, it seems it’s just a matter of time and experience for the next No. 1 goalkeeper to emerge.

HOPE GETS A MEDAL: U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo was not a member of the 2004 Olympic gold medal winning team in Athen, Greece, but she did receive a medal of sorts on Tuesday.  Solo, who had forgotten at least one piece of gear on the field after every training, finally remembered to grab everything on Tuesday afternoon, and for that was awarded a special medal (made of cardboard and athletic tape) from U.S. equipment manager Shane Colquhoun.  Solo wore the medal around proudly for most of the evening.

TARPLEY BACK TO KALAMAZOO: U.S. midfielder Lindsay Tarpley left camp today to return to her hometown of Kalamazoo to attend her older brother Chad’s wedding on Saturday and will not be available for selection to Sunday’s roster.  Tarpley will not only be a bridesmaid, but the maid of honor, as her brother marries a former Northwestern soccer player.

This will be the 35th meeting between the USA and Canada, most for any team against the USA except for Norway (38 meetings).

U.S. forward Amy Rodriguez before leaving for this National Team trip, which will be followed immediately by a vacation to the South Pacific, which will be followed immediately by a trip to the ESPYs in Los Angeles (to be honored as Gatorade Girl’s High School Soccer Player of the Year), which will be followed immediately by the U.S. U-21 Nordic Cup trip, which will be followed immediately by a trip to Hawaii with her family, which will be followed immediately by her pre-season training camp at USC as an incoming freshman.

“I felt like I was packing for the rest of my life.”

For a picture gallery of the WNT's training sessions, click here.

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