USA vs. Finland
Aug. 24, 2007
FIRST FINLAND ON ESPN2, THEN OFF TO CHINA: The 2007 Send-Off Series for the U.S. Women’s National Team comes to a close on Saturday, Aug. 25, as the USA faces Finland at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. PT live on ESPN2. Fans can also follow the action live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. The match, presented by Sierra Mist, marks the last game for the USA before traveling to China on Aug. 27 to prepare for its 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup opener against North Korea on Sept. 11 in Chengdu. The 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup is being held Sept. 10-30 in five Chinese cities. The USA is 12-0-2 in 2007 and has won all seven of its domestic matches heading into the Finland game, including a 6-1 thrashing of New Zealand on Aug. 12 in Chicago. While Finland is the last match in the six-game Send-Off Series, it is the only country in the Send-Off Series not going to China for the Women’s World Cup. Still, Finland came excruciatingly close to earning a berth to the WWC and lost just 1-0 to the USA at the 2007 Algarve Cup, the closest ever match between the two teams, meaning they will no doubt give the Americans a stiff test in their final 90 minutes before beginning Women’s World Cup play.
USA vs. FINLAND HISTORY: The USA and Finland have met 11 times with the Americans coming away victorious in all 11 contests, including the most recent 1-0 win in Portugal. In that match, played in Ferreiras, Carli Lloyd scored the lone U.S. goal just seconds into the second half as the U.S. out-shot the Finns, 17-3. The match was notable in that Kristine Lilly came off the bench for just the 13th time in her career that now spans 330 international games. In the 11 matches, Finland has managed to score just once on the USA. That came in a 3-1 U.S. win in February of 1999 that was notable as defender Heather Mitts’ first cap, but the rest of the squad was quite young, and Mitts and midfielder Aly Wagner are the only players still active with the WNT who played in that game. Five of the 11 meetings have taken place at the Algarve Cup and the other six have been in the United States. The U.S. women have never played in Finland. Finland has brought a similar roster to the one that traveled to the Algarve Cup with 10 of the 15 players who played in that Algarve Cup match on the roster for this game.
2007 U.S. WOMEN’S WORLD CUP ROSTER
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 (Virginia Beach, Va.), 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.)
FINLAND WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Minna Meriluoto, 12-Tinja-Riikka Korpela;
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Petra Vaelma, 5-Tiina Salmén, 6-Miia Niemi, 8-Maija Saari, 14-Susanna Lehtinen, 15-Veera Vartiainen;
MIDFIELDERS (7): 3-Jessica Julin, 4-Sanna Valkonen, 7-Jessica Thorn, 10-Katri Nokso-Koivisto, 13-Hanna Pyhäjärvi, 16-Leena Puranen, 17-Susanna Hokkanen;
FORWARDS (3): 9-Annica Sjölund, 11-Sanna Talonen, 18-Linda Sällström.
2007 U.S. Women’s National Team Send-Off Series
2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup - USA First-Round Schedule
READY, SET, BLOG!: The U.S. Women’s National Team blog has kicked off on ussoccer.com, and it will take you along with the U.S. Women’s National Team up to and through the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. You get a peek behind the scenes at the U.S. team off the field as they prepare for some of the biggest matches of their lives. We know lots of funny and interesting things happen on the road, but we don’t know when or where, so keep logging onto the blog for brief posts (also known as entertaining nuggets) which we hope you will enjoy along with the myriad of other coverage that ussoccer.com will supply during the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
U.S. UNBEATEN RUN IN REGULATION AT 46 GAMES: By playing Finland at The Home Depot Center, the U.S. team comes back to the stadium where it started its current record unbeaten streak. The U.S. women have not lost a match in regulation since Greg Ryan took over as head coach in March of 2005, a streak of 45 consecutive matches. The only setback under Ryan occurred in the championship game of the 2006 Algarve Cup when the USA fell in penalty kicks to Germany after regulation and overtime produced a 0-0 tie. That game officially counts as a draw, but since then, the USA have gone unbeaten in 29 straight games and undefeated in 10 straight since tying its first two matches of the year at the Four Nations Tournament in China. Under Ryan, the team has a 38-0-7 record, which includes six tournament titles. The USA is working on an overall 46-game unbeaten streak in regulation time, (shattering the previous record of 30 games) that stretches back to the last game of 2004 on Dec. 8, when, in the final match for Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain and Cindy Parlow, the USA defeated Mexico, 5-0, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
ALL WWC MATCHES LIVE ON ESPN FAMILY OF NETWORKS: You’ll have to get up early, or stay up late, but you can see the U.S. Women’s National Team live in all of its 2007 Women’s World Cup matches. ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to cover all 32 matches of the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup beginning September 10. ESPN will show 12 games and ESPN2 the remaining 20 games, while ESPN360.com will air all 32 games. The games will air between 5-10 a.m. ET from China. 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. Coverage will begin on ESPN2 Monday, Sept. 10 at 7:55 a.m. ET with the tournament’s opening match featuring the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Germany vs. Argentina from Shanghai’s Hongkou Football Stadium.
NEAR MISS FOR THE FINNS: Finland was “oh-so-close” to earning a berth to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. All Finland needed was a draw at Denmark on Sept. 27, 2006, in its final Women’s World Cup qualifying match, but in front of a record crowd of almost 10,000 fans in Denmark, the home team prevailed 1-0 to win European Group 3 and earned its berth to China. Both teams had 16 points heading into that final match, but Finland had defeated Denmark, 2-1, at home on Aug. 26 as Laura Kalmari and Minna Mustonen scored, meaning a tie would have been enough to send them through to their first Women’s World Cup. The dream would go unfulfilled as Maiken Pape scored early in the second half and the Danes held on for the victory. The victory was sweet for the Danes, who avenged a loss to Finland at the 2005 European Championships that knocked them from the tournament. A WWC berth would have been extra special for Finland, which was coming off a surprise trip to the semifinals at the 2005 Euros. Finland started the tournament with a tough 3-2 loss to host England in a match from which they deserved at least a point, but the Fins then stunned Sweden with a 0-0 draw and defeated Denmark, 2-1, to book its semifinal place. Finland was trounced by Norway, 4-1, in the semifinal, but it remained a tremendous triumph for women’s soccer in Finland to advance that far. Finland will be looking to make more impact on the women’s game in Europe when it hosts the European Championships in the fall of 2009.
A LOOK AT FINLAND: Finland is without some of its more notable players, including midfielder Anne Makinen, a former Notre Dame star who also played in the WUSA, and brings a young team to the United States with just two of the 18 players over the age of 25. Those two players, midfielders Jessica Julin and Sanna Valkonen, both play in Sweden for AIK and are both approaching 100 caps, giving Finland some experience in the middle of the field. Finland has two players who play college soccer in the USA (not surprisingly in the warm climes of Florida) in forward Sanna Talonen from Florida State (she will be an incoming freshman), who has scored the most international goals of anyone on the roster with eight, and midfielder Susanna Lehtinen who plays at Florida Atlantic, who will be a senior. Lehtinen is within one point of beoming the Owls all-time scoring leader and has 55 goals and 17 assists in her first three years at FAU. Finland has two other players who play in Sweden, both for the Balinge club, in Petra Vaelma and Katri Nokso-Koivisto, and one that plays in Norway, captain Tiina Salmen, who plays for Amazon Grimstad. Both of Finland’s goalkeepers are inexperienced at the international level with Minna Meriluoto having played just nine times (although she did have a solid match against the USA at the 2007 Algarve Cup) and Tinja-Riikka Korpela, who has just two caps.
Stat of Note
Only three goalkeepers have started for the USA in a Women’s World Cup match. Mary Harvey played all six games in 1991 and Briana Scurry played 17 of the 18 games over 1995, 1999 and 2003. The only match she didn’t play was in 1995 when she was inexplicably given a red card in the second match of group play against Denmark for stepping out of the penalty area on a punt. U.S. forward Mia Hamm stepped into the net for the U.S., who had already used their allotted substitutions, making a save in the final moments of the game to maintain the shutout. Saskia Webber filled in during the 4-1 win over Australia.