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U.S. WNT Prepares for Second Match of Four Nations Tournament on Friday Jan. 20 vs. France

U.S. FOCUSES ON FRANCE AT FOUR NATIONS TOURNAMENT: It was a magical day for U.S. captain Kristine Lilly in the USA’s first match of the Four Nations Tournament, a hard fought 3-1 victory over Norway on January 18. Lilly played in her 300th career match, scored the first goal on a fantastic free kick and assisted on the second from a corner kick. With that emotional and historic day behind the U.S. team, the squad now focuses on a very talented France side in its second match on January 20. The USA-France clash kicks off 1:30 p.m. local time (12:30 a.m. ET) at Guangdong Olympic Stadium and a positive result for the U.S. team will put them in the driver’s seat for the tournament title. The U.S. team went through a very light training on Thursday, making good use of the rest day coming off an intense game and heading into another. The USA is currently in first place in the competition after one game with the full three points from the victory over Norway.

2006 Four Nations Tournament
Guangdong Olympic Stadium, Guangzhou, China
Jan. 18
USA 3, Norway 1
China 1, France 1

Jan. 20
USA vs. France 1:30 p.m. local / 12:30 a.m. ET
China vs. Norway 4 p.m. local / 3 a.m. ET

Jan. 22
France vs. Norway 1:30 p.m. local / 12:30 a.m. ET
USA vs. China 4 p.m. local / 3 a.m. ET

USA-FRANCE PREVIEW: The USA and France last met in the opening game of the 2005 Algarve Cup in Portugal. The Americans scrapped out a 1-0 victory on March 9 via a 20th minute goal from Christie Welsh. The match marked several firsts as it was the USA’s opening match of 2005, the first game since the retirement of WNT legends Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett, and saw then interim head coach Greg Ryan make his debut on the U.S. sideline. The USA is 10-0-0 all-time against France, but the French are one of the most rapidly improving teams in the world and currently sit fifth in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings. France played very well at the 2005 European Championships, but a 3-0 opening game loss to Germany could not be undone by a 1-1 tie with eventual finalist Norway and a 3-1 victory over Italy. France (six points from three matches) got off to a tough start in their 2007 Women’s World Cup Qualifying campaign, losing to Holland at home and currently sits behind England (nine points from three games). The French will need some good results down the road to right the ship, starting with a March 26 match at England. While France will be without former WUSA star Marinette Pichon, who stayed home after a death in the family, they have some wonderfully talented midfielders in Sandrine Soubeyrand and Sonia Bompastor, and several active and fast forwards, including Hoda Lattaf and young Elodie Thomas. France played an excellent match against China in their opening game of the Four Nations Tournament, getting a goal from Elise Bussaglia in the 72nd minute on a beautiful long range shot, only to give up an equalizer to China’s Han Duan on a looping header in the 90th minute. The USA’s Abby Wambach and rugged French defender Laura Georges, who plays college soccer in the USA at Boston College, had quite a battle during the match in Portugal and will likely bang bodies again on Friday.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster – Four Nations Tournament -- Guangzhou, China
GOALKEEPERS (2): 28-Jenni Branam, 18-Hope Solo; DEFENDERS (6): 17-Lori Chalupny, 23-Tina Frimpong, 14-Amy LePeilbet, 4-Stephanie Lopez, 2-Heather Mitts, 3-Christie Rampone; MIDFIELDERS (8): 7-Shannon Boxx, 8-Carli Lloyd, 13-Kristine Lilly, 21-Marci Miller, 12-Leslie Osborne, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 10-Aly Wagner, 11-Angie Woznuk; FORWARDS (4): 9-Heather O’Reilly, 27-India Trotter, 20-Abby Wambach, 19-Christie Welsh.

France Women’s National Team Roster -- Four Nations Tournament -- Guangzhou, China
1-Sarah Bouhaddi, 2-Anne-Laure Casseleux, 3-Peggy Provost, 4-Laura Georges, 5-Sabrina Viguier, 6-Sandrine Soubeyrand, 7-Sandrine Dusang, 8-Sonia Bompastor, 9-Elodie Thomas, 10-Lilas Traikia, 11-Laetitia Tonazzi, 12-Laure LePailleur, 13-Ludivine Diguelman, 14-Louisa Necib, 15-Elise Bussaglia, 16-Celine Deville, 17-Marie-Ange Karmo, 18-Hoda Lattaf, 19-Amelie Coquet, 20-Camille Abily.

TROIS AMERICANS EN FRANCE: U.S. midfielder Aly Wagner, goalkeeper Hope Solo and forward Christie Welsh, who scored against France in last year’s meeting at the Algarve Cup, are all very familiar with the French players, having played in France’s First Division for Olympique Lyonnaise in 2005. The three gave their thoughts on Les Bleus in advance of the USA’s critical second match of the Four Nations Tournament.

Aly Wagner
“I think they are very good individually. They remind me of male players in that regard in that they have been watching soccer all their lives. Their savvy with the ball is fun to watch and hard to play against. I enjoyed training every day over there. We played a lot in tight spaces and worked a lot on possession. It really helped my touch on the ball.”

Christie Welsh
“I was surprised with their physicality. I wasn’t expecting that from them. They have some really good athletes as well and seemed to have gotten more athletic as a national team over the past few years. From being over there, you can tell that they would love nothing more than to beat the U.S., but I guess that’s [the mindset of] every team we play.”

Hope Solo
“At my club, they were all definitely talented on the ball, but in games they tended to rely a lot on their individuality and not as much on passing and support off the ball. They are very tough, kind of gritty players that you want to have on your team. The most inspiring thing to me when I went to France was their passion and love for the game, on and off the field. They are always talking about soccer, watching soccer, wearing soccer clothes, and it made me appreciate how fortunate I am to play such a beautiful sport that sometimes we take for granted in the United States.”

WAMBACH SECOND FASTEST TO 50: Abby Wambach’s goal against Norway in the USA’s Four Nations opener was the 50th of her international career. Wambach’s goal in just her 64th game makes her the second fastest to reach 50 goals in U.S. history. Michelle Akers scored her 50th goal as part of a Women’s World Cup record five goal performance vs. Taiwan at the 1991 tournament, reaching and eclipsing the half-century mark in her 48th game. It took Mia Hamm 94 games to score 50, getting goals 50 and 51 on July 30, 1995, against Chinese Taipei. Kristine Lilly scored her 50th goal in her 164th match. Tiffeny Milbrett netted her 50th in her 107th match while Cindy Parlow did her one better, notching her 50th in her 106th match.

LOST IN LOST: With much downtime to fill at the hotel, the U.S. team has become embroiled in the twists and turns of one of TV’s hottest shows…ABC’s LOST. Two different groups of players (who are at different points in the series) are gathering for nightly (and sometimes afternoon) viewings of the show as almost all had not seen any episodes before coming to China. The viewings sessions often eat up two or three hours with the players transfixed by the trials and tribulations of Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke and Co. Theories on the show are also being thrown around at team meals, with Abby Wambach hypothesizing that the island is home to a lost civilization. Stay tuned. The U.S. players certainly will.

STAT OF NOTE: The USA has played France 10 times in its history, earning five shutouts and allowing at least one goal in the other five meetings. The USA allowed two goals twice, in 8-2 and 5-2 wins almost exactly a year apart in 1996 and 1997.

Quote of the Day:
U.S. forward Christie Welsh commenting on the team’s diet in China.

“When we get home, we’re all going on the South Beach diet.”

- Christine Welsh on the massive amount of carbohydrate-rich foods the U.S. team has been served in China.