U.S. WOMEN TAKE ON CHINA: The U.S. Women’s National Team renews one of the best rivalries in women’s international soccer as it takes on one of its oldest and most history-laden opponents as a series that has spanned 20 years and 34 matches, resumes on Sunday, Aug. 27, live at 12 p.m. CT on ESPN2. U.S. head coach Greg Ryan selected 18 players for the match, and the team has trained in Chicago since Wednesday. This will be the fourth domestic match of the year for the USA, but first since the team concluded a three-game stretch in the month of July, winning all three games, against Sweden (3-2), Ireland (5-0) and Canada (2-0). After playing the first nine matches of the year outside of the United States, the U.S. Women’s National Team is in the midst of a streak of seven domestic matches before heading to South Korea at the end of October for the 2006 Peace Cup. The U.S. team has been in intense training during Residency Training Camp for five months, but the camp comes to an end in mid-September, after which the team will only come together for training camps leading up to games and events. The six-month camp required all the players to move to the Los Angeles area to train full time. The USA is 9-0-3 in 2006, with all three draws being 0-0 affairs. The USA and Germany played to a 0-0 tie in the championship game of the 2006 Algarve Cup in Portugal last March, with the USA falling in penalty kicks, 4-3. The Peace Cup will mark the final matches before the USA enters qualifying for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. CONCACAF qualifying this year will take the form of a six-team CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, to be staged in the USA in late November with dates and venues TBA.
Upcoming U.S. WNT Game Schedule (Tickets)
Date Opponent Venue City Kickoff TV
Aug. 27 China Toyota Park Bridgeview, Ill. 12 Noon CT ESPN2
Sept. 13 Mexico PAETEC Park Rochester, N.Y. 8 p.m. ET ESPN2/Telemundo (delayed)
Oct. 1 Chinese Taipei Home Depot Center Carson, Calif. 1 p.m. PT ESPN2
Oct. 8 Iceland Univ. of Richmond Richmond, Va. 2 p.m. ET ESPN2
TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE: Tickets for Sunday’s match starting at $16 are still available at ussoccer.com, by phone at 312-559-1212 and at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Chicagoland (including Carson Pirie Scott, Coconuts, Hot Tix, FYE, Tower Records, and Ritmo Latino stores). Groups of 15 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtain a group order form at ussoccer.com.
CHICAGO CONNECTION PART I: While there are several players with Midwest ties, one player on the roster is from Illinois in defender Amy LePeilbet, who grew up in Crystal Lake, Ill. and attended Prairie Ridge High School. In addition to meeting with the local press this week, LePeilbet talked about returning to Chicago in this ussoccer.com podcast.
CHICAGO CONNECTION PART II: He's a Chicago kind of guy. U.S. assistant coach Bret Hall, who deserves much of the credit for the USA's giving up just five goals in the last 22 matches, played professionally in Chicago for many years and has been a highly successful coach in Chicagoland. It's only appropriate that he would be on the bench for the USA's first match at the new Toyota Park, as Hall and his generation of players went a long way in helping create the fine soccer tradition in Chicago. Hall talks about his career as a young American player in the hard-knock NASL as well as his work with the U.S. team in this latest ussoccer.com podcast.
USA TO CHRISTEN TOYOTA PARK FOR U.S. SOCCER: The U.S. Women’s National Team will be the first U.S. soccer team to play at the brand new Toyota Park, but the American team has played six matches in Illinois in the past and five at Soldier Field, including the historic 7-1 win over Nigeria at the 1999 Women’s World Cup. The USA has handily won all six matches in Illinois (a 6-1 win over South Korea in St. Charles the only one outside of Soldier Field), with the closest game a 4-2 win over Germany in 1998 at Soldier in the USA’s first-ever appearance in Chicago. The U.S. women played at Soldier Field on Sept. 9, 2001, a 4-1 win over Germany during the Nike U.S. Women’s Cup, and most recently in a 5-1 victory over Ireland during the Fan Celebration Tour following the team’s gold-medal performance at the 2004 Olympics.
TARPLEY AND O’REILLY ON BRINK OF 50: If Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O’Reilly play vs. China, they will hit 50 caps, becoming the 31st and 32nd U.S. players to reach that milestone. O’Reilly departed Residency Training Camp in mid-August to join her college pre-season training at the University of North Carolina, but flew in on Friday before the game to play in the match. She will fly back to Chapel Hill following the game and will be moving back and forth between the Tar Heels and the national team during most of the fall. all_access video caught up with O'Reilly for a two-part interview last month.
USA vs. CHINA PREVIEW: The USA and China met twice this year already, 46 days apart, in the final game of the 2006 Four Nations Tournament in China and then in the opening game of the 2006 Algarve Cup. In the first meeting, the USA came away with a 2-0 win that clinched the tournament championship, with both goals scored by Kristine Lilly. In the second match on a bumpy field in Faro, Portugal, the USA took the game to China, whose time-wasting tactics all game were a bit of a surprise from the usually aggressive side, but they were nevertheless effective as it earned them a 0-0 draw. The always-technical Chinese had a difficult time breaking down the U.S. defense in the most recent matches, and a 0-0 draw with Canada on Aug. 19 shows that the goal scoring might not yet be coming around. With Chinese legend Sun Wen back in the picture after “un-retiring.” the Chinese may get more punch when they host the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but Sun Wen is not on the roster for this tour. China’s most dangerous players may be speedy forward Han Duan, who scored twice at the 2006 Four Nations, and veteran midfielder Pu Wei. China did pick up a 1-0 victory over Germany in Hamburg earlier in the year, but the Chinese have not defeated the USA since 2003, a 2-0 win in Wuhan. As always, the Steel Roses are stocked with talented midfield players, and goalkeeper Han Wenxia is tall, has great hands and is extremely composed. China’s Li Jie is one of the best central defenders in the world, but was called for a penalty defending Abby Wambach during the meeting at the Four Nations, earning the USA a penalty kick and its first goal of the game. The USA-China matches usually see the Chinese possess the ball well, causing the Americans to be smart in their defensive play so as not to get tired and stretched out chasing the technical Chinese all around the field. However, China usually has difficulties slowing down the stronger U.S. forwards, making for an exciting end-to-end match with good chances for both teams and quick transitions from offense to defense and vice-versa.
USA vs. CHINA HISTORY: The draw at the 2006 Algarve Cup moved the series to 15-8-11 in favor of the American women. No team has tied the USA more than the Chinese, and the 11 ties are six more than the next closest country (Sweden with five). The USA is 5-2-2 against China on U.S. soil and 3-2-5 on neutral grounds. The USA played China in the eighth game in the program’s history and since then the two countries have met in numerous important matches, including three times in Women’s World Cups and three times in Olympic competition. The two teams met in the championship games of the 1996 Olympics in Athens, Ga., and at the famous 1999 Women’s World Cup Final. In fact, China has never defeated the USA in world championship competition. China was also the opponent on Aug. 3, 1986 – the second-ever meeting between the two sides – when Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly debuted for the USA. China has not played in the U.S. since Aug. 1, 2004, when the USA won 3-1 in its final match before the Athens Olympics.
U.S. WNT Quick Hits:
- Aly Wagner earned her 100th cap on July 30 vs. Canada, becoming the 18th player to reach that milestone. Also, Heather Mitts earned her 50th cap against Japan on May 9, making her the 29th U.S. woman to reach that mark
- With her hat trick against Japan on May 7, giving her 54 career goals (she now has 57), Wambach passed National Soccer Hall of Fame member Carin Gabarra to move into seventh place on the all-time U.S. goal scoring chart. Next up for Wambach…Shannon MacMillan, who has 60 career goals
- With her assist against Japan on May 7, central defender Cat Whitehill equaled her yearly total of the last five years: one. Her next assist in 2006 will mark a yearly career high. More impressively, she has scored three goals this year, giving her nine for her career and moving her into third place on the USA’s all-time scoring list for defenders behind Joy Fawcett and Brandi Chastain
- Whitehill is actually tied with O’Reilly for the fourth-leading scorer on the team in 2006 behind Wambach (8 goals), Lilly (6) and Natasha Kai (5)
- After midfielder and Northern Illinois head women’s soccer coach Marci Miller went down last week with a knee injury, a roster spot opened up for Joanna Lohman, a former All-American from Penn State. Lohman, who earned four games at the 2001 Algarve Cup, came into Residency Training Camp on trial in late May and was kept on until the end of the Residency period to add depth to the midfield after Shannon Boxx tore her right ACL
- Olympic gold medalist Angela Hucles returns to the squad after not playing in a game for the USA since July of 2005. Hucles, who played in two matches at the Olympics in Greece, participated in the first training block of Residency Camp last April, but was out of camp for three months before being brought back this month
- If goalkeeper Briana Scurry plays against China, it will be her first game for the USA since Dec. 8, 2004. She is still by far the most capped goalkeeper in U.S. history with 155 games, including 71 shutouts. Scurry took 2005 off after winning her second gold medal in 2004
- The USA has never lost a game in which Lilly has started the match wearing the captain’s band
- Eights players have scored the USA’s 28 goals so far this year, with 22 of the 28 goals coming from forwards
- U.S. head coach Greg Ryan has made at least five substitutions in seven of the USA’s 12 games so far this year
2006 USA WNT BY THE NUMBERS:
0.40 Goals allowed per game by the USA in 2006
2.27 Average goals per game for the USA in 2006
3 Decades in which Lilly has appeared for the national team
4 Assists for Lilly this year, most on the team
4 Players that have played in all 12 games so far this year: Mitts, O’Reilly, Wagner, Wambach
5 Numbers of players in the USA’s top-20 on the all-time caps list to get a cap this year.
5 Number of games the USA has played in Asia this year
5 Field players on the U.S. roster looking for their first international goal
7 Number of players on the U.S. roster with 21 caps or less
10 Number of players on the U.S. roster with 49 or more caps
11 Matches Hope Solo has started in goal for the USA this year
12 Starts in 2006 for Abby Wambach, the only player to start all 12 matches this year
23 Number of U.S. players to earn a cap in 2006
49 Caps for Tarpley and O’Reilly heading into the China match
57 Career goals by Abby Wambach, putting her seventh on the all-time list at the age of 26
92 Number of minutes that Wambach averages a goal every…
165 Players who have earned a cap for the U.S. Women’s National Team since the program’s inception in 1985
309 World record for caps held by Lilly
1058 Minutes team leader Wambach has played in 2006, out of a possible 1110
RYAN IN CHARGE: Greg Ryan is a long-time Division I women’s college head coach who served on April Heinrich’s staff during the highly successful run to the 2004 Olympic gold medal. 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. As a player, 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 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.
RYAN’S REIGN: The U.S. team is 17-0-4 under Ryan since he took over the team at the 2005 Algarve Cup (he would not be hired officially until April of 2005). No other U.S. Women’s National Team head coach has ever gone his first 21 matches unbeaten and with each win or tie, Ryan continues to extend the record. Even more impressively, the U.S. women have allowed just five goals over those 21 games – one to Norway, one to France, one to Japan and two to Sweden on July 15, the first time a team had scored twice on the USA under Ryan. Just two of those goals came from the run of play, with one coming off a penalty kick, one off a corner kick and one off a free kick.
PHOTOS OF FANS' FAVORITE PLAYERS AVAILABLE AT USSOCCERPHOTOSTORE.COM: As excitement builds for the U.S. Women's National Team in 2006, fans are able to purchase high-quality action prints of their favorite U.S. National Team stars. The U.S. Soccer Photo Store is the only place where you can buy prints of National Team athletes. These photos are suitable for framing or can be ordered already framed with the click of a button. Photos from the 2006 Algarve Cup and select U.S. domestic friendly matches are available at ussoccerphotostore.com.
OVERBECK TO BE HONORED: While the focus on the present and future of U.S. Women’s National Team will be in Chicago, the team’s past will be the focal point in Oneonta, N.Y., on Monday, August 28, as former WNT defender and captain Carla Overbeck is enshrined in the National Soccer Hall of Fame along with Alexi Lalas, Al Trost and builder Philip Anschutz. Part of the USA’s original crop of U.S. Women’s National Team stars, Overbeck served as the team’s longtime on-field leader through two Women’s World Cup titles and the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal triumph. The popular defender scored seven goals across 168 caps during a career that spanned 13 years from 1988 to 2000. She was on the field for every game of the 1991, 1995 and 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cups, and played every minute of the 1996 Olympics.
RESIDENCY CAMP NEARS COMPLETION: U.S. head coach Greg Ryan has had up to 30 players at several different points in Residency Training Camp at The Home Depot Center this summer, with several players coming in and out, as he continues to give looks to young players trying to break into the upper tier. Ryan has used 23 players in game action so far in 2006 as the core of the players he will use in Women’s World Cup qualification takes shape. Several younger players from Residency Training Camp ended their stints in mid-July as Ryan sent several of the USA’s young stars to the U.S. U-20s through the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship (currently being held in Russia) where forwards Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Cheney and defender Stephanie Lopez will try to bring back a world title. Ryan also sent Residency Camp midfielder Angie Woznuk and defender India Trotter to the U-21s to play in the Nordic Cup, which ended on July 22 as the USA fell to Germany in the championship game, 2-0. In short, Residency Training Camp has given Ryan the chance to test numerous players in the national team environment as the pool continues to be a deep one, even in the absence of a professional league.