U.S. WNT READY TO PUT THE HEAT ON ICELAND: With temperatures in Southern California soaring into the mid-80s, accompanied by unusual humidity, the U.S. Women’s National Team is putting the final touches on its week of training prior to facing Iceland on Sunday, July 24, live on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. PT. The match marks the third domestic game of the year for the U.S. women, who will wear their new red uniforms for the first time. The USA is 6-0-0 in 2005 and has not allowed a goal while scoring 18. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
TRAINING HEATS UP, WINDS DOWN: The U.S. team went through a one-hour, full-field scrimmage on Thursday (July 21) on the stadium field at the Home Depot Center, and without a breeze, it was one of the hottest practices on record. The highly competitive match saw no goals, but it did have its share of combative tackles, quality attacks and stellar goalkeeping. The USA’s Friday session was not as strenuous as the U.S. team played a four-v-four tournament.
RYAN SETS 18-PLAYER ROSTER: U.S. head coach Greg Ryan has named the 18-player roster to face Iceland from the 24 players that trained all week in Carson, Calif. Forward Abby Wambach, who missed the July 10 game vs. Ukraine, returns to the roster and will be looking to add to her 47 career goals. Two midfielders making their first roster of the year are former Santa Clara and U.S. U-19 star Leslie Osborne, who has fully recovered from ankle surgery, and former UVa and Washington Freedom player Lori Lindsey, who will be looking for her first cap after making her first-ever roster. Shannon MacMillan, the USA’s sixth all-time leading scorer, did not make the roster for the match against Ukraine after struggling with a hip injury during the week of training, but has recovered and will be looking for her first cap of the year, as well as her 61st career goal.
United States WNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Kristine Luckenbill, Hope Solo; DEFENDERS (5): Tina Frimpong, Amy LePeilbet, Kate Markgraf, Heather Mitts, Cat Reddick; MIDFIELDERS (6): Shannon Boxx, Lorrie Fair, Angela Hucles, Lori Lindsey, Leslie Osborne, Aly Wagner; FORWARDS (5): Danielle Fotopoulos, Shannon MacMillan, Tiffeny Milbrett, Abby Wambach, Christie Welsh.
Iceland WNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Maria Agustsdóttir, 12-Sandra Sigurdardóttir; DEFENDERS (6): 2-Gudren Gunnarsdóttir, 5-Asta Arnadóttir, 7-Laufey Johannsdóttir, 8-Erla Hendriksdóttir, 10-Iris Andresdóttir, 11-Gudlaug Jonsdóttir; MIDFIELDERS (5): 4-Edda Gardarsdóttir, 6-Laufey Olafsdóttir, 13-Rakel Logadóttir, 14-Elin Steinarsdóttir, 15-Olina Vidarsdóttir; FORWARDS (3): 3-Erna Sigurdardóttir, 9-Hrefna Johannesdóttir, 16-Bjork Gunnarsdóttir.
USA vs. ICELAND PREVIEW: The USA and Iceland have met seven times in their history, with the USA holding a 6-0-1 edge in the series, but the meeting on September 25, 2004, produced some shocking results, as Iceland scored its first-ever goals on the USA, all in a six-minute span. The USA has allowed three or more goals in a game just 14 times over the last 21 years and 349 games, but never has the USA allowed three goals in such a short period. But the Iceland-USA series is no stranger to strangeness. The two teams played one of the most unusual two-game series’ in U.S. history in April of 2000 as the USA downed Iceland, 8-0, on April 5 using a team of mostly young players, then tied 0-0 three days later with a team of mostly veteran players as Iceland goalkeeper Thora Helgadottir, a Duke graduate, played a brilliant match. Of the first five matches, they have either been blowouts (6-0 an 8-0) or close games (two 1-0 wins and a 0-0 tie), but the last two have been 4-3 and 3-0 U.S. victories. Those results have been positive for such a small soccer country, which features about 300,000 people and a very small number of registered female players, as well as a national stadium in the capital of Reykjavík that seats just 14,000. Iceland’s confidence must be bolstered by the quality performances against the USA last fall, along with a solid 2-0 win over Scotland (in Iceland’s only match thus far in 2005), but the Scandinavians will be up against a U.S. team which has yet to allow a goal this year and brimming with young players eager to prove themselves. Iceland’s league, which runs from May to September (it’s kind of cold in Iceland during those other months) is in full swing, with Breidablik, which has lent four players to this roster, currently in first place. Iceland’s focus is on 2007 Women’s World Cup qualification, with its first match coming in August against Belarus. This is the second stint for head coach Jorundur Aki Sveinsson, who took over last winter after two years away from the team. Should the temperatures remain boiling in Los Angeles, Iceland will no doubt have some “acclimation” issues considering the 2 p.m. kickoff, when the sun is bearing down on the HDC.
USA vs. Iceland on 2004 “Fan Celebration Tour”
Date Score U.S. Goal Scorers Venue
Sept. 25 4-3 W Wambach (2), Hamm, Mitts Rochester, N.Y.
Sept. 29 3-0 W Parlow, Wambach, Lilly Pittsburgh, Pa.
A LOOK AT ICELAND: The two friendly matches last September served as a key part of the Icelandic preparations for two important European qualifying playoff matches the following November against Norway, with the winner earning a berth to the 2005 European Championships in England, won by Germany the past June. Unfortunately, Norway rolled over Iceland 7-2 and 2-1 for a commanding 9-3 aggregate in the two matches to earn their place in England and made it all the way to the championship game before losing to Germany. Iceland earned their playoff berth by finishing in third place in its qualifying group behind France and Russia and ahead of Hungary and Poland. Iceland had an outside chance to earn an automatic berth to the Euros heading into its final two qualifying matches, but lost to France and Russia, both by shutout. The names of the Icelandic players often bring chuckles from Americans, but they are easily explained. Icelandic women take the first name of their father, followed by “dottir” or daughter. For example, Erla Hendricksdottir has a father named Hendrik, so Erla is Hendrick’s Daughter or Hendricksdottir.
THE DOTTIRS: Iceland’s most experienced player and playmaker, team captain Asthildur Helgadottir, who plays for one of Sweden’s top club’s Malmo, did not play against the USA last September due to injury and will not be at this match due to family commitments. Those same family commitments will keep her sister Thora in Iceland. The absence of Thora Helgadottir, one of the top small country GKs in the world, will present Iceland’s two young goalkeepers (Maria Agustsdottir has six caps and Sandra Sigurdardottir has none) with a huge challenge. Iceland also has three young players unavailable for selection as they are playing in the Nordic Cup in Sweden (including rising star Margaret Vidarsdottir, who has 11 goals in her first 15 games with the senior team). Vidarsdottir was shutout as the U.S. U-21s defeated Iceland, 4-0, last Wednesday to open the tournament. Iceland’s top players include Erla Hendriksdottir (who will captain the side), who first debuted in 1995 and has been playing club soccer in Denmark for the past six years, as well as Katrin Jonsdottir, who has played for Kolbn in Norway while studying at the University of Olso, and Gudlaug Jonsdottir, a two-time Iceland Female Player of the Year who has a baby girl. Iceland will also be without top forward Olga Faerseth (14 career goals), who is out with a knee injury. Asthildur Helgadottir, Faerseth and Margret Vidarsdottir accounted for 14 of Iceland’s 26 goals in qualifying. Edda Gardarsdottir and Laufey Olfasdottir (as well as Erla Arnasdottir, who is not the roster) scored their first-career international goals against the USA in Rochester, and while Iceland has had some stellar efforts against the USA in the past, the young goalkeepers and experienced midfielders will likely need exceptional efforts to keep Iceland in the match.
A BIT OF ICELAND IN THE D-1: Iceland brings fives players who play or have played college soccer in the U.S. in goalkeeper Maria Agustsdottir, currently at Harvard, and three midfielders who recently finished up at the University of Richmond in veteran Edda Gardarsdottir and young players Elin Stenarsdottir and Olina Vidarsdottir. Defender Gudrun Gunnarsdottir started 24 games for Notre Dame during the 2004 season, helping the Fighting Irish to the NCAA title.
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