US SoccerUS Soccer

Looking Back at U.S. WNT's CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying

The three-time, gold-winning U.S. Women’s National Team prepares for the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament this week in search of a trip to the 2012 London Olympics. This Friday marks the USA’s third Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and we look back at the previous two qualifying competitions.

Since the start of the women’s Olympic soccer tournament in 1996, the U.S. Women’s National Team has easily been the most dominant soccer country in the Summer Games.

The U.S. WNT has won the gold in three of the four tournaments – 1996 in Atlanta, 2004 in Athens, Greece, and 2008 in Beijing, China. The USA also has a silver medal to its name from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, falling just short to gold medal-winning Norway on a controversial Dagny Mellgren goal where replays showed she knocked down the ball with her left arm before tallying the winner.

The Americans are preparing for their third Olympic Qualifying Tournament as the qualification process was introduced in 2004. When women’s soccer launched in the 1996 Olympics, qualifying was largely determined by the results in the previous year’s World Cup. The U.S. women took third in the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup and won the 1999 World Cup and represented the CONCACAF region during the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.

The eight-team 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament runs from Jan. 19-29 in Vancouver, B.C. The U.S. kicks things off against the Dominican Republic at 10:30 p.m. ET Friday, followed by Guatemala (7:30 p.m. ET Sunday) and Mexico (10:30 p.m. Tuesday).

Here is a look back at the USA’s previous Olympic qualifiers:

2004 Olympic Qualifying Tournament:

In the 2004 Olympic qualifying, the U.S. under head coach April Heinrichs traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica, and opened with a dominant 7-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 25. Shannon Boxx had three goals and an assist, while Mia Hamm contributed two goals and two assists … The U.S. then trounced Haiti 8-0 on Feb. 27, with Cindy Parlow netting a hat trick and assisting on two other tallies … The USA won its group with a 2-0 victory against Mexico on Feb. 29, benefiting from an early own goal and then taking a two-goal lead into halftime with an Abby Wambach goal in the 26th minute … The USA advanced to the Athens Olympics on the strength of a 4-0 win against host Costa Rica on March 3, with three of the first goals coming in the first half … With the U.S. and Mexico already qualifying for the Olympics, the two sides squared off in the final on March 6. Mexico, which upset Canada to reach the final, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half. But the USA netted three unanswered goals, capped off by Julie Foudy’s 87th-minute score, to pull off the 3-2 victory. Mexico’s two goals were the only tallies conceded by the USA during the entire tournament as the team outscored its opponents by a stellar 24-2 margin.

2008 Olympic Qualifying Tournament:

In the 2008 Olympic qualifying, new U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage’s side traveled to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and breezed past Jamaica 6-0 in the opener on April 4 in Group A play … Two days later the U.S. won Group A with a 3-1 victory over host Mexico in front of a sold-out crowd of 22,280 at Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez. Natasha Kai had two of the USA’s three tallies … The U.S. then earned a spot in the Beijing Olympics with a 3-0 semifinal win over Costa Rica on April 9. Kai once again produced on the offensive end with two goals … The USA capped off the tournament by edging Canada in a shootout, 6-5. U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart sealed the win with a diving save to her left to turn away Brittany Timko’s penalty kick.

On Wednesday, Universal Sports Network announced that it will provide live coverage of the entire 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament:

Universal Sports Network/

CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Broadcast Schedule

Date Match Time (ET)

Jan. 20 USA vs. Dominican Republic 10:30 p.m.

Jan. 22 USA vs. Guatemala 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 24 USA vs. Mexico 10:30 p.m.

Jan. 27 Semifinal TBD

Jan. 29 Final (live on NBCSN) 8 p.m.

Jan. 29 Final (delayed re-air) 11 p.m.