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WNT Notes: 11 Days Until USA Opens the Women's World Cup

U.S. Women’s National Team Notes
2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Shanghai, China
Aug. 31, 2007

11 DAYS UNTIL USA OPENS THE WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: The U.S. Women’s National Team arrived in China on the late afternoon of Aug. 28 and set about preparing for its 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup opener against North Korea on Sept. 11 in Chengdu. The U.S. team was the first of the 15 visiting countries to arrive in China, although the Americans had a longer trip than most teams. Speaking of long trips, Ghana became the second team to arrive, touching down in China yesterday. The USA has first set up training camp in Shanghai, where it will stay until Sept. 6, before taking a three hour flight east (three hours only gets you about halfway across China) to Chengdu. The USA has trained three times so far, the first held in driving rain on Wednesday morning. Thursday’s training was held under hazy sunshine and Friday’s in stifling humidity. Yes, to no one’s surprise, it’s hot and humid in Shanghai, and the U.S. team is expecting balmy temperatures for all the matches, perhaps even some rain, although the USA’s first round games will kick off in the evenings, the first two at 5 p.m. and the third at 8 p.m. It is also expected to be few degrees cooler in Chengdu. The 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off officially on Sept. 10 as defending champion Germany and Argentina gets things rolling at the 34,000-seat Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium at 8 p.m. local (8 a.m. ET) in the only match of that day. There will be three more matches on Sept. 11, including the USA clash with North Korea.

2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup
USA First-Round Schedule
Date Opponent Venue (City) Kickoff TV
Sept. 11 North Korea Chengdu (Chengdu Sports Center Stadium) 5 p.m. / 5 am 4:55 a.m. ET ESPN2
Sept. 14 Sweden Chengdu (Chengdu Sports Center Stadium) 5 p.m. / 5 am 4:55 a.m. ET ESPN
Sept. 18 Nigeria Shanghai (Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium) 8 p.m. / 8 a.m. 7:55 a.m. ET on ESPN

GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), 1-Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), 18-Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.);
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Marian Dalmy (Lakewood, Colo.), 8-Tina Ellertson (Vancouver, Wash.), 14-Stephanie Lopez (Elk Grove, Calif.), 15-Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), 3-Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.), 4-Cat Whitehill (Birmingham, Ala.);
MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 17-Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), 16-Angela Hucles, 19-Marci Jobson (St. Charles, Ill.), 11-Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), 12-Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis.), 10-Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.);
FORWARDS (5): 6-Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), 13-Kristine Lilly (Wilton, Conn.), 9-Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), 20-Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.).

GOT BLOG?: You can get your hard facts on the U.S. Women’s National Team in these notes, but to get the inside scoop on what’s going on in China with the U.S. team, you have to log onto the WNT Blog. Recent insights have included the wildlife at the U.S. trainings and the players getting adjusted in the massive city of Shanghai, as well as Heather O’Reilly’s talents at arts and crafts. So thanks for clicking on the blog and continuing to support to the U.S. team at the Women’s World Cup from back in the States.

CHATTING WITH CHRISTIE: On the verge of playing in her third Women’s World Cup, U.S. defender Christie Rampone sat down with’s Center Circle to answer 11 questions. The second most-capped player on the Women’s World Cup roster has a key role this time around, and it’s a challenge she is embracing. Also, check in with defender Marian Dalmy as she writes the team’s first Postcard from China.

AT HOME IN CHINA: While China is on the other side of the globe from the USA, and 12 time zones from the East Coast, the U.S. Women’s World Cup Team has a remarkable amount of experience playing here. Combined, the 21 players on the U.S. team have been to China to play for the full Women’s National Team a total of 81 times. Four players, goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, forwards Natasha Kai and Heather O’Reilly and midfielder Carli Lloyd also played in Shanghai with the U.S. U-21s in 2004, and Abby Wambach played in China as a youth player for her regional team. Since 1998, the U.S. has played games in Guangzhou, Panyu, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Wuhan and Shenzhen.

Player Trips to China
Nicole Barnhart: WWC
Shannon Boxx: 2004, 2006, WWC
Lori Chalupny: 2006, 2007, WWC
Marian Dalmy: WWC
Tina Ellertson: 2006, 2007, WWC
Angela Hucles: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, WWC
Marci Jobson: 2006, 2007, WWC
Natasha Kai: 2007, WWC
Kristine Lilly: 1987, 1988, 1991, 1991, 1998, 2004, 2006, WWC
Carli Lloyd: 2006, 2007, WWC
Stephanie Lopez: 2006, 2007, WWC
Kate Markgraf: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, WWC
Heather O’Reilly: 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, WWC
Leslie Osborne: 2004, 2006, 2007, WWC
Christie Rampone: 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, WWC
Briana Scurry: 1998, 2003, 2004, WWC
Hope Solo: 2001, 2006, 2007, WCC
Lindsay Tarpley: 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, WWC
Aly Wagner: 2002, 2003, 2006, WWC
Abby Wambach: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, WWC
Cat Whitehill: 2002, 2004, 2006, WWC

ALL WWC MATCHES LIVE ON ESPN FAMILY OF NETWORKS: For those not able to pull their heads off their pillows, set your DVRs! For those so excited for the Women’s World Cup that you’ll pop out of bed when the alarm rings and grab a cup of coffee, all of the 2007 WWC games will be aired live. The USA’s 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup opener will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sept. 11 at 4:55 a.m. ET, with a re-air at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN Classic and at 11 p.m. on ESPN2. ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to cover all 32 matches of the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup beginning September 10 when defending champion Germany takes on Argentina on ESPN2 with the broadcast starting at 7:55 a.m. ET. Select matches, including all of the U.S. matches, will be re-aired on ESPNU, ESPN Classic or ESPN2 in the evenings. In addition, 30-minute pre-match and one-hour, in-between match studio shows will be aired on select days. For a complete Women’s World Cup TV schedule, click here.

FIRST ROUND TO ELIMINATE EIGHT TEAMS: The 16 nations in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup were placed in four groups of four teams each at the Final Draw in Wuhan last April, and the top two finishers in each group will advance to the quarterfinals. U.S. fans would be wise to keep an eye on the results of Group A, featuring Germany, Japan, England and Argentina, as if the USA advances, it will meet a team from that group. The first place finisher in the USA’s Group B will play the second place finisher in Group A and vice-versa. For a complete Women’s World Cup match schedule, click here.

RESULTS OF NOTE: Many teams in the 2007 Women’s World Cup are playing final tune-ups. Sweden defeated Denmark, 2-1, in Denmark as Sweden star Hanna Ljungberg seems to have regained her health just in the nick time, coming off the bench to score both goals, both off assists from running mate Victoria Svensson, who won the Silver Ball as the second best player at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Canada and Japan tied 0-0 in Tokyo and Germany drew with Norway 2-2 in Mainz. China picked up a nice win in Macau, downing England, 1-0.

THEY SAID IT: U.S. head coach Greg Ryan and team captain Kristine Lilly have met with the Chinese media during the first few days in Shanghai. Here’s a sampling of their quotes.

U.S. head coach Greg Ryan

On why the U.S. team decided to train in Shanghai before traveling to Chengdu for the first match:
“In Shanghai we have a very good training facility at Shenhau FC and we also wanted to give the players some variety, a change of locations, to see different parts of China. We also wanted to have a training portion here in Shanghai, and then when we go to Chengdu, focus only on the games. We’ll be training almost every day, with maybe one or two days off. We’ll have lots of meetings and video preparation for the team. This is our normal routine.”

On the taking his young team into the Women’s World Cup:
“It’s going to be a very difficult tournament. Even though we’ve won a lot of games, the games that count are now in a World Cup. This is our opportunity to prove ourselves. It will be very tough going, but that’s a great challenge for a young team like ours.

On the rain the USA encountered on the first day in Shanghai:
“That’s one of the reasons we came over early, to get used to the weather conditions. We trained in the rain and it was great. Our team plays very well in the rain.”

On team captain Kristine Lilly:
“Kristine Lilly is the player that has the experience, not only to score a great goal herself, but to help the team continue to play well in difficult situations. She’s the leader for this team.”

On the team’s goals for the first few days in China:
“The most important thing right now is just recovering from the jet lag. The first two days of training are very light, but we have to get some exercise and get 20-30 minutes of good work in. We also need to get some sunlight and readjust our circadian rhythm. Those things are critical, but if we overdo it early, we’ll play for it later. And we want to have some fun. It helps when your jet lagged to have some fun and joke around instead of taking things too seriously right off the bat. We want to be loose, we don’t want to be tight going into this thing, and I think we’ve off to a good start.”

On the USA’s early arrival in China (the Americans were the first team to touch down):
“The main reason we are here early is to get adjusted to the time zone differences. There is 15 hours difference from LA where we departed from, so we’re doing everything we can to speed up that process. The other thing is just to get settled, get used to the conditions, the heat, the humidity and the rain, so we can be training in the same conditions we’re going to be playing in. We have more time zones to travel that most of the other countries so that puts us here a bit early.”

On North Korea, the USA’s first opponent:
“North Korea is an excellent team. They are very, very tough. They are ranked fifth in the world and certainly deserving of that high ranking. In the 2004 Olympics the USA started off with Greece, which was not a very strong team, so this is obviously much different. The Koreans are potentially one of the best teams in the tournament. It will be a very tough start for both of our teams.”

On the USA following in the footsteps of the past teams and players:
“Those players are very difficult to replace. We are not the same team, but we have been able to create a new team that can have the same measure of success that that team had before. We’re just doing it with new players with less experience and this is their first World Cup. As we’ve said along, we have to prove ourselves. This is our opportunity and that’s all you can ask for, an opportunity to prove yourselves on the world stage.”

U.S. captain Kristine Lilly

On if the U.S. team has adjusted to the time difference:
“We’re getting there. We’re still a little sluggish, but that’s why were over here early to get acclimated to the time difference. Give us a few more days and the team will start feeling better.”

On playing in her fifth Women’s World Cup:
“I still feel I can contribute to my team. If I still feel I can give something that helps the team, and if I feel good about how I’m playing, I feel I should still play and that’s the way I feel right now.”

On the Women’s World Cup:
“Our goal is always to win. Obviously, it’s not going to be easy with all the talented teams competing and how the level of the women’s game has grown, but I am looking forward to an exciting World Cup. I think it’s going to be great for all the fans and for the Chinese fans to see there team and all the good teams. Our first goal is to get out of our group, so that’s what we are focusing on now. It’s all about getting points out of your group.”

Looking back to the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup:
“Obviously we came up a little short in 2003, losing to Germany in the semifinals. They outplayed us in that game, but I would never sell us short. I think our team did as much as we could until the end, we fought to try to sneak a goal in but we couldn’t. Then we played for third place and it was a credit to our team to win that and finish in the top-three.”

Looking back at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup:
“In 1999, it was one of those years that everything went right. We held a World Cup that set new standards for women’s sports and soccer in the United States. Playing China in the Final and coming down to penalty kicks, you couldn’t write a more exciting script for the fans, not for us (laughs), but for the fans. And Brandi finished off the World Cup with the last shot. It was one of those things that you are so proud to be a part of.”

On how both tournaments motivate her:
“We did so well in ‘99 and came up short in 2003. I remember 2003 and how I felt, and that keeps me fired up for this one coming up. We want to win it back because the feeling in 1999 was so great. You always want to replicate that feeling and this is our chance to win back the World Cup.”

Stat of Note
The USA has scored 72 goals in Women’s World Cup competition. Carin Jennings scored the first-ever U.S. goal in a Women’s World Cup in 1991 during the USA’s 3-2 victory over Sweden. Tiffeny Milbrett scored the most recent in the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup Third-Place Match, as 3-1 U.S. victory.