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U.S. WNT Set to Face Costa Rica at 5 p.m. MT on Wednesday, April 9, for Olympic Berth


U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Tuesday, April 8, 2008


U.S. WOMEN TO FACE COSTA RICA FOR BERTH TO 2008 BEIJING OLYMPICS: After two solid wins in group play at the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, the USA is a victory away from earning one of this confederation’s two berths to the Beijing Olympics. Similar to the 2004 Olympic qualifying tournament, the USA’s semifinal opponent will be Costa Rica. In fact, all four semifinalists are the same as in 2004, when the USA defeated the Ticas, 4-0, and Mexico upset Canada, 2-1. This time around, the USA will face an improved Costa Rican side which gave up just three goals in its two group games while scoring two, falling 1-0 to Canada and tying Trinidad & Tobago, 2-2. The all-important semifinal kicks off at 5 p.m. MT on Wednesday, April 9, and fans can follow the game live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Mexico faces Canada at 7:30 p.m. MT in a match that is sure to be filled with emotion and drama as the hosts try to duplicate their feat of four years ago and earn a berth to their second Olympic Games. The semifinal matches are expected to be sell-outs, but for sure the 22,000-seat stadium will be full for the nightcap as Mexico tries to rebound from its loss to the USA on April 6. If the USA wins, they will join the U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team as qualifiers for the 2008 Olympics, giving the United States two soccer teams in the Olympics for the first time since 2000 when the U-23s finished fourth. Log onto ussoccer.com for more information on the U.S. team and the qualifying tournament.

all_access VIDEO PREVIEW: Check out all_access video for a review of the USA-Mexico game and hear team Christie Rampone talk about playing in the semifinals with a berth to the Olympics on the line. Also, if you’ve ever tried to hit a moving piñata with a blindfold on, you’ll have some empathy for Stephanie Cox as all_access video gives you a look at the birthday party the team threw for her here in Mexico.

FOUR YEARS AGO IN SAN JOSE: The USA and Costa Rica met four years ago with an Olympic berth on the line and the Americans easily won the match, 4-0. That was an eight-team tournament, but like this year, Costa Rica finished behind Canada in their group to earn a shot at the USA in the semifinals. The U.S. got goals from Aly Wagner, Kristine Lilly, Abby Wambach and Shannon Boxx to earn a place at Athens 2004. In the other semifinal, Mexican forward Maribel Dominguez staked her team to a 2-0 lead over Canada and while the Maples Leafs pounded the Mexican goal in the second half and pulled a goal back, they could not get an equalizer, giving the Mexicans the biggest upset ever in CONCACAF women’s soccer. A Mexico win in the semifinal this year would not be as much of a surprise, especially considering Mexico’s excellent performance so far in the tournament and the home crowd they will have on their side at the sold-out venue. Still, Mexico (ranked 22nd in the world) is an underdog to Canada (ranked 9th) and the match should be a classic.

2008 CONCACAF WOMEN’S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING
Date       Semifinals                      Kickoff (Local)
April 9    USA vs. Costa Rica       5 p.m. MT
April 9    Canada vs. Mexico        7:30 p.m. MT

Date        Final/Third Place Game   Kickoff (Local)
April 12   Third Place Game             5 p.m. MT
April 12   Championship                   7:30 p.m. MT

OPPONENT CAPSULE: Costa Rica
Current FIFA World Ranking: 48
Overall Record vs. USA: 0-4-0
Last Meeting vs. USA: March 3, 2004 (4-0 U.S. win at Olympic Qualifying)
Head Coach: Juan Diego Quesada
Key Players: Priscilla Tapia, Karol Galves, Amanda Esquivel, Gabriela Trujillo, Monica Malavassi, Katherine Alvarado, Laura Sanchez, Amara Wilson, Cristin Granados, Yuliana Rodriguez, Wendy Acosta.

USA vs. Costa Rica Fast Facts: Of the four all-time meetings between the USA and Costa Rica, two have taken place in CONCACAF qualifying competitions, one for the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and most recently for the 2004 Olympics … The first-ever meeting in 2000 took place in a CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup … Costa Rica has never scored on the USA … Costa Rica advanced to the CONCACAF Women’s Final Round after defeating Nicaragua in a Central American Second Round home-and-away series … Costa Rica’s two goals in the tournament came from Amara Wilson and Cristin Granados, the latter with just 15 seconds left to tie the game against Trinidad & Tobago, and effectively put the Ticas into the semis. If they had not tied the game, the loss against Canada would have sent them home and put T&T in the semis … Costa Rican defender Amanda Esquivel is from San Diego and plays her college soccer at UC San Diego … Costa Rican defender Vanessa Rojas attends Loyola Marymount University in California and hails from Torrance, Calif., the same hometown as the USA’s Shannon Boxx … Of the USA’s eight games this year, the team has scored more than one goal seven times, and four times have scored four or more … Costa Rica (48th) is ranked lower than T&T in the FIFA World Rankings (44th), but the Ticas made it to the semifinals … Costa Rica missed out on a 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup Playoff against Asia after finishing fourth at the 2002 Gold Cup, falling to Mexico in the third-place match … The Ticas claimed the gold medal at the 2001 Juegos Centroamericanos in Guatemala.

2008 U.S. CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Roster: 
GOALKEEPERS (2): 24-Nicole Barnhart, 18-Hope Solo
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Rachel Buehler, 17-Lori Chalupny, 14-Stephanie Cox, 13-Tobin Heath, 15-Kate Markgraf, 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Cat Whitehill
MIDFIELDERS (6): 7-Shannon Boxx, 16-Angela Hucles, 11-Carli Lloyd, 12-Leslie Osborne, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 10-Kacey White
FORWARDS (5): 8-Lauren Cheney, 6-Natasha Kai, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 19-Amy Rodriguez, 20-Abby Wambach.

2008 Costa Rica CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Roster: 
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Priscilla Tapia, 18-Yirlania Arroyo
DEFENDERS (8): 2-Adriana Rodriguez, 3-Vanessa Rojas, 4-Karol Galves, 5-Amanda Esquivel, 6-Gabriela Trujillo, 9-Paola de los Angeles Alvarado, 19-Maria Flores, 20-Wendy Acosta
MIDFIELDERS (5): 7-Mariela Campos, 10-Katherine Alvarado, 13-Megan Chavez, 15-Cristin Granados, 16-Yuliana Rodriguez
FORWARDS (5): 8-Monica Malavassi, 11-Raquel Rodriguez, 12-Laura Sanchez, 14-Amara Wilson, 17-Adriana Venegas

U.S. Players Preview Costa Rica Match

U.S. Forward Abby Wambach
“It’s win or go home and I think both teams knows that. We don’t doubt that Costa Rica will throw everything they’ve got at us, but I know we are going to do everything in our power to get that berth to the Olympics.”

U.S. Forward Heather O’Reilly
“We are pumped to be playing in this game. We all know it’s a must win and that’s the bottom line.”

U.S. Defender Kate Markgraf:
“We haven’t played them since 2004, but it looks like they have improved. They have really technical players and they look more athletic then they have in the past. We will have to see how much they try to attack or if they sit back, but we can adapt and play our style according to the flow of the game.”
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