- Lilly Returns to Country Where She Set Caps Record;
- Games Will Mark Rematches of 2004 Olympic Quarterfinal
CHICAGO (April 25, 2006) – U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Greg Ryan has named 18 players to travel to Japan for a pair of matches on May 7 in Kumamoto and on May 9 in Osaka. The two games will be the USA’s first since the 2006 Algarve Cup in March and the first matches against Japan since the quarterfinals of the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece. Both games are in southern Japan, with Kumamoto located on the most southern island of Kyushu and Osaka on the main island of Honshu.
The first match on May 7 at the 32,000-seat KK Wing Stadium will kick off at 1 p.m. local time (Midnight ET). The second leg will be played at the 50,000-seat Nagai Stadium with a kick off time of 4:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET). It will serve as the opening game of a doubleheader that also features the Japanese Men’s National Team in one of their final 2006 FIFA World Cup tune-ups against Bulgaria. Nagai hosted three 2002 FIFA World Cup matches. Japan is 11th in the current FIFA Women’s World rankings.
U.S. captain Kristine Lilly leads the roster which features 17 players who saw action at the Algarve Cup. The only player named who was not at the Algarve cup is veteran goalkeeper Briana Scurry, who makes her first game roster since the end of 2004, after taking a year off from international soccer in 2005. Scurry joins Hope Solo as the two goalkeepers on the roster. Solo has started six of the USA’s seven matches this year, allowing just two goals, one from the penalty spot.
Lilly heads a quintet of talented forwards that also includes Abby Wambach, who has scored 51 career goals, Heather O’Reilly, Christie Welsh and Natasha Kai. O’Reilly and Kai both scored two goals at the Algarve Cup, Kai in her first two career matches for the USA.
Ryan also chose five midfielders in Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, Leslie Osborne, Lindsay Tarpley and Aly Wagner, all of whom performed well in Portugal. Boxx was named MVP of the tournament, Lloyd came tantalizingly close to her first career goal when she hit the crossbar against Germany in the championship game, Osborne came off the bench to contribute in two of the matches while Tarpley and Wagner each scored against France.
Ryan chose six defenders, three 2004 Olympic veterans in Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone and Cat Whitehill, and three relatively inexperienced players in Amy LePeilbet (16 caps), Tina Frimpong (8 caps) and Stephanie Lopez (3 caps).
The U.S. women last visited Japan in 1998 for a three-game tour that took the Americans through Tokyo, Kobe and Yokohama, where they played at the eventual 2002 World Cup Final venue. During that trip, Lilly set the world record for international appearances for women with her 152nd cap, a number she has since more than doubled.
The USA got three wins on that tour by scores of 2-1, 2-0 and 3-0. The USA is 14-0-3 all-time against Japan, but the improving Japanese side strung together three straight draws against the USA with a 1-1 tie in 2000, a 0-0 result in 2003 and another 1-1 deadlock in 2004, before the Americans came out on top, 2-1, at the Olympics on goals from Lilly and Wambach. No other team has ever tied the United States women three times in a row. The U.S. team, which is currently on their first break during 2006 Residency Camp, will convene again on April 28 for three days of training before leaving for Japan on May 1.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Briana Scurry, Hope Solo;
DEFENDERS (6): Tina Frimpong, Amy LePeilbet, Stephanie Lopez, Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone, Cat Whitehill;
MIDFIELDERS (5): Shannon Boxx, Carli Lloyd, Leslie Osborne, Lindsay Tarpley, Aly Wagner;
FORWARDS (5): Natasha Kai, Kristine Lilly, Heather O’Reilly, Abby Wambach, Christie Welsh.
Head Coach: Greg Ryan - Colorado Springs, Colo.
Asst. Coach: Bret Hall - St. Charles, Ill.
GK Coach: Mark Dougherty - Littleton, Colo.
General Manager: Nils Krumins - Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Team Physician: Dr. Chris Amann - Chicago, Ill.
Medical Trainer: Gigi Garcia - Miami, Fla.
Massage Therapist: Jim Faylo - St. Petersburg, Fla.
Massage Therapist: Kara Mirarchi - Boston, Mass.
Equipment Manager: Zac Herndon - Long Beach, Calif.
Security Officer: Mark Pharris - Atlanta, Ga.
Press Officer: Aaron Heifetz - Long Beach, Calif.
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