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U.S. Women's National Team Ready To Face Iceland in Final Domestic Friendly Before CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup


United States Women’s National Team
Pre-Game Notes
USA vs. Iceland
Oct. 6, 2006


USA FACES ICELAND IN FINAL DOMESTIC FRIENDLY OF 2006: The U.S. Women’s National Team will play its last domestic friendly of the year on Sunday, Oct. 8, against Iceland in Richmond, Va., a city the team has not visited since 1998. The USA finished its six-month Residency Training Camp in mid-September and will finish its seven-game domestic schedule against Iceland, a team ranked 21st in the world, which has given the Americans problems in the past. The kickoff is set for 1:55 p.m. ET live on ESPN2, but fans can also follow the action on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. After playing the first nine matches of 2006 outside the United States, the American women have come home to win their first six domestic matches, the closest of which was a 3-2 win against Sweden on July 15 to start the run. This match takes on some significance as it is the last on U.S. soil for the U.S. team before the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, which will serve as qualifying for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Before the all-important qualifying matches, the USA will compete in the Peace Queen Cup Korea from Oct. 28-Nov. 4, in South Korea.

DATES SET FOR 2006 CONCACAF WOMEN’S GOLD CUP: The 2006 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, a six-team competition that will serve as this region’s qualifying for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, will take place from Nov. 19-26 at two venues in the United States. The third edition of the Women’s Gold Cup will feature Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago playing first round matches on Sunday, Nov. 19, at the Tropical Park Stadium in Miami, Fla. The winners of those matches will advance to the all-important Women’s Gold Cup semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 22, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., taking on either Canada or the USA, who were given byes to that stage of the tournament. The winners of those semifinal matches will advance to China and the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The tournament championship and third-place match will take place on Sunday, Nov. 26, at The HDC with the winner of the consolation game earning a spot in a two-game, home-and-away playoff against Japan for the final berth to WWC ’07. The USA will not know its possible semifinal opponent until Monday, Oct. 9, when CONCACAF determines the tournament’s match-ups through a draw at the offices of the CONCACAF General Secretariat in New York City. Ticket prices and an on-sale date will be announced shortly. The USA has won both previous Women’s Gold Cups, one in 2000 and then again in 2002 when the tournament determined CONCACAF’s representatives at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

CONCACAF QUALIFYING HISTORY: The USA has participated in the previous four Women’s World Cup tournaments, winning twice, but had to go through qualification just three times – participating in CONCACAF qualifying events in Haiti in 1991, in Canada in 1994 and in the USA in 2002. Even though the 2003 Women’s World Cup was moved to the USA due to the SARS outbreak in China, the USA had already qualified. CONCACAF will get 2.5 spots in the 2007 Women’s World Cup with the third place finisher squaring off against the third-place finisher from Asia for the final berth.

EIGHT OF 16 BERTHS LEFT FOR CHINA ’07: European qualification is complete with Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and England winning their tough groups for berths to China. As host, China is in as well, with Australia and North Korea qualifying from Asia. Following are the Confederations and their respective spots for the 16-team 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup:

2007 FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP BERTHS BY CONFEDERATION
Host: China
Asia: Australia, North Korea, (Japan)*
Africa: 2 Berths
South America: 2 Berths
CONCACAF: 2.5 Berths
Oceania: 1 Berth
Europe: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, England
*Japan will face third-place finisher in CONCACAF for final berth to WWC ’07.

UNBEATEN SO FAR IN 2006: The USA is 12-0-3 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, but the Americans have yet to be bested in regulation time, or since Greg Ryan took over the team in March of 2005. The USA has gone 20-0-4 since Ryan took his seat on the U.S. bench. The Peace Queen Cup Korea will be the final matches before the USA enters qualifying for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

U.S. WNT Remaining 2006 Schedule
Date       Opponent     Venue                      City                              Kickoff; TV
Oct. 8     Iceland         U of R Stadium        Richmond, Va.                2 p.m. ET; ESPN2
Oct. 29   Denmark      Gimhae Stadium        Kimhae, South Korea       3 a.m. ET; --
Oct. 31   Australia       Cheonan Stadium      Cheonan, South Korea     2 a.m. ET; --
Nov. 2    North Korea  Suwon WC Stadium   Suwon, South Korea        3 a.m. ET; --
Nov. 4    -- Possible Peace Cup Championship Game --
Nov. 22  TBD             Home Depot Center  Carson, Calif.                 TBD; TBD
Nov. 26  TBD             Home Depot Center  Carson, Calif.                 TBD; TBD


USA vs. ICELAND HISTORY: The USA and Iceland have met eight times in their history, with the USA holding a 7-0-1 advantage 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 22 years and 367 games, but never has the USA allowed three goals in such a short span. 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 six matches between the teams, they have either been blowouts (6-0 and 8-0) or close games (two 1-0 wins, 0-0 tie and a 4-3 win), but the last two meetings have seen two 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 and a respectable third-place finish in European Group 2 of Women’s World Cup qualifying behind Sweden and the Czech Republic, but the Scandinavians will be up against a U.S. team which has allowed just seven goals in the past 24 matches and is extremely played-in after six months of Residency Training Camp, nine international matches and six domestic friendless. Iceland’s league, which runs from May to September (it’s kind of cold in Iceland during those other months) recently ended, so they should be played-in as well.

ICELAND CAN’T SOLVE CZECHS OR SWEDEN IN WWCQ: This is the second stint for head coach Jorundur Aki Sveinsson, who took over in 2005 after two years away from the team, and he did a fine job in helping Iceland finish third in its 2007 Women’s World Cup qualifying group. Iceland could not beat Sweden or the Czech Republic in European Group 2 (although it won all four games against Belarus and Portugal) and as a result finished third in the group. Iceland did finish its qualifying campaign on a positive note as Margret Lara Vidarsdottir pounded in four goals in a 6-0 win over Portugal about a week and a half ago.

Iceland Group 2 European Qualifying for 2007 FIFA WWC
Date               Opponent        Score     Iceland Goalscorer(s)
Aug. 21, 2005  Belarus            3-0 W    Dora Maria Larusdóttir (2), Margret Lara Vidarsdóttir
Aug. 28, 2005  Sweden            2-2 T     Asthildur Helgadottir, Margret Lara Vidarsdóttir
Sept. 24, 2005 Czech Republic 0-1 L      --
May 6, 2006    Belarus            2-1 W    Asthildur Helgadottir, Katrin Jonsdóttir
June 18, 2006  Portugal           3-0 W    Margret Lara Vidarsdóttir, Greta Samuelsdóttir
Aug. 19, 2006  Czech Republic 2-4 L     Asthildur Helgadottir, Margret Lara Vidarsdóttir
Aug. 26, 2006  Sweden            0-4 L      --
Sept. 28, 2006 Portugal           6-0 W    Katrin Jonsdóttir (2), Margret Lara Vidarsdóttir (4)


THE DOTTIRS: Iceland’s most experienced player and playmaker, team captain Asthildur Helgadottir, who scored three goals in Women’s World Cup qualifying, is not on the roster for this match. Her sister Thora, however, is. Thora has played several magnificent games for Iceland against the USA, none better than a blinder she threw at the Americans in 2000 when the teams drew 0-0 in Charlotte, N.C. Iceland’s top striker is 20-year-old Margret Lara Vidarsdottir, who already has 19 goals for the senior team, including eight goals in Women’s World Cup qualifying. She scored in every match but one that Iceland score in, being shut out only by Sweden (twice) and in a 2-1 win against Belarus. Veteran Katrin Jonsdottir is the most experienced player with 55 career caps. Also on the roster are Edda Gardarsdottir and Erla Arnasdottir who scored their first-career international goals against the USA in Rochester in 2004, and those remain their only career goals. While Iceland has had some stellar efforts against the USA in the past, Helgadottir and the other veterans will likely need exceptional efforts to keep their team in the match. One weapon Iceland does have is the kicking of Helgadottir, which might be the best in the world. Her prodigious drop kicks sail well into the U.S. half – some have been known to bounce all the way to the opposing goalkeeper – and the U.S. back line will have to be particularly good in the air to win the headers as well as alert to scoop up the inevitable second balls produced by the rain-maker punts. Helgadottir, who impressively has a Mathematics degree from Duke, has also played goalie for the Iceland team handball national team. She’s hoping the count of balls she has to fish out of her net will be very low.

A BIT OF ICELAND IN THE NCAA D-1: In an amazing twist of irony, Edda Gardarsdottir will be coming “home” to face the USA. She played at the University of Richmond, which has also featured other Icelandic players in the past. Defender Gudrun Gunnarsdottir started 24 games for Notre Dame during in 2004, helping the Fighting Irish to the NCAA title.

WHAT’S IN AN ICELANDIC NAME?: Contrary to most other places in the world, little ol' Iceland is not very fond of "surnames" and EVERYBODY is on a first name basis. (Yes, even with the President!) This is because there are hardly any "family names" in Iceland...Now you say "Haa! No family names!? How do you recognize each other and who belongs to whom!?" Well, it's simple really. The Icelandic people are descendants from Vikings and they kept track of people by recognizing who was their father, as in "Helgi son of Ólafur the Brave, son of Leifur the Lucky" (not an actual example!). Thus was born the tradition of naming children after their father's first name. So the way it works in Iceland is that boys are given first names and then their father's first name + "son" as a "surname". Girls on the other hand are given first names and then their father's first name + "dóttir" (as in "daughter") as a "surname".
Let’s give you an hypothetical example:
Father = Ragnar Helgason
Mother = Inga Bjarnadóttir
Their son = Leifur Ragnarsson
Their daughter = Anna Ragnarsdóttir
Referring to the family by their "surnames" is therefore pointless and everyone goes by their first names. Women also don't take their husband's surname when they get married as it would mess everything up. It's also worth mentioning that most Icelanders can trace back their family-line to the 13th century or so (Iceland was first settled in the 9th century), so this system appears to be not completely useless!

WAMBACH FIRES HOME THREE TO PASS MacMILLAN: With 13 goals in 2006, including three against Chinese Taipei on Oct. 1, Abby Wambach has passed Shannon MacMillan, moving into sixth place on the USA’s all-time goal scoring list. With 62 goals, Wambach is years away from perhaps challenging Mia Hamm’s all-time record of 158, but scoring pace of the 26-year-old has been remarkable. Wambach has scored her 62 goals in just 78 matches, the best strike rate in U.S. history. She has averaged a goal for every 89 minutes she plays for the USA, equal to a goal a game. While Wambach’s size, strength and speed are what has made her one of the top forwards in the world, her balls skills cannot be overlooked. She has also dished for 28 assists in her career, including three against Chinese Taipei when she set up first career goals for Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe.

U.S. Roster (Hometown – caps/goals):
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn. - 157), 18-Hope Solo (Richland, Wash - 31);
DEFENDERS (6): 17-Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo. – 23/2), 8-Tina Frimpong (Vancouver, Wash. – 15/0), 4-Stephanie Lopez (Elk Grove, Calif. – 7/0), 15-Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich. – 147/0), 2-Heather Mitts (Cincinnati, Ohio – 56/2), 3-Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J. – 149/4);
MIDFIELDERS (5): 16-Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va. – 55/5), 11-Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J. - 15/1), 15-Marci Miller (St. Charles, Ill. – 8/0), 12-Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis. – 24/1), 10-Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif. – 103/21);
FORWARDS (4): 6-Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii – 10/5), 13-Kristine Lilly (Wilton, Conn. – 312/113), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich. – 52/12), 20-Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y. – 78/62).

Iceland Roster (Club – caps/goals)
Thora Helgadóttir (Breidablik- 48) GK
Gudbjorg Gunnarsdóttir (Valur - 2) GK
Katrin Jonsdóttir (Valur - 55/7)
Edda Gardarsdóttir (Breidablik - 42/1)
Gudrun Gunnarsdóttir (Breidablik - 31/0)
Margret Lara Vidarsdóttir (Valur - 25/19
Holmfridur Magnusdottir (Fortuna - 20/2)
Dora Maria Larusdóttir (Valur - 18/5)
Malfridur Sigurdardóttir (Valur - 17/0)
Erna Sigurdardóttir (Breidablik - 16/0)
Erla Arnardóttir (Mallbackens - 14/1)
Asta Arnadóttir (Valur - 12/0)
Greta Samuelsdóttir (Breidablik - 8/1)
Embla Gretarsdóttir (KR - 3/1)
Gudny Odinsdóttir (Valur - 3/0)
Harpa Thorsteinsdóttir (Stjarnan - 2/0)
Bryndis Bjarnadóttir (Breidablik - 1/0)
Helga Johannesdóttir (Stjarnan- 0/0)

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