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U.S. Women Kick Off Achieve Your Gold Tour in Philly, Live on MatchACCESS


WITH GOLD ACHIEVED, U.S. WNT EMBARKS ON 10-GAME TOUR: After the rousing and emotional run to the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, the U.S. Women’s National Team embarks on its 10-game Achieve Your Gold Tour, starting with three games against Ireland. The first match of the tour kicks off Saturday, September 13 from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. at 8 p.m. ET, and fans can follow the match on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker as well as watch a live video stream on ussoccer.com’s MatchAccess. The tour, which will take the gold medalists across the United States to celebrate with the fans, will conclude the team’s activity in 2008 which has already featured 28 matches in seven different countries. The U.S. heads into the tri-series with Ireland with a 26-1-1 record so far, the only loss coming in the opening game of the 2008 Olympics to Norway, a setback from which the U.S. famously rebounded to win the gold medal. In one of the most amazing and successful years in U.S. Women’s National Team history, the U.S. has won all five tournaments it has participated in, taking the Four Nations Tournament in China in January, the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March, the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico in April, the Peace Queen Cup in June in South Korea and of course, the Olympic Games in China in August. The remaining seven matches of the Achieve Your Gold Tour have yet to be finalized, but are scheduled to take place all during the fall.

USA vs. IRELAND FROM LINCOLN FINANCIAL ON MATCHACCESS: The U.S. team has had three weeks off since the gold medal triumph, but will shake off the rust with its match against Ireland in Philadelphia. Fans can watch a live video stream of the the game live on ussoccer.com’s MatchAccess in the team’s 29th match of the year. Fifteen of the 18 players that won the gold medal will be available tomorrow as the USA’s three collegians – Amy Rodriguez, Tobin Heath and Lauren Cheney, are currently with their college teams. Olympic alternates Briana Scurry and Kacey White have been added to the roster for the tour.

U.S. WNT Achieve Your Gold Tour
Date    Opponent        Venue                                      City                                    Kickoff
Sept. 13    Ireland        Lincoln Financial Field        Philadelphia, Pa.           8 p.m. ET    
Sept. 17    Ireland        Giants Stadium                    East Rutherford, N.J.     7:30 p.m. ET
Sept. 20    Ireland        Toyota Park                           Bridgeview, Ill.                 7 p.m. CT

GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE: In the first Olympics contested with 12 teams (there were eight in 1996 and 2000 and 10 in 2004), the tournament turned out to be one of the most competitive in women’s soccer history. Through the first 12 first round games, just one match had a margin larger than one goal, and that was the USA’s 2-0 loss to Norway. Although there were some goal explosions in the final round of group games and in the knockout rounds, the growth of the women’s game was clearly evident over the 16 days of the tournament. A full 25 percent of the teams that played in the Olympics were there for the first time (North Korea, Canada, New Zealand and Argentina). Three of the four, excluding Canada, failed to make the quarterfinals.

PHILLY CONNECTIONS AS LLOYD COMES HOME: The U.S. team has quite a few Philadelphia connections. Midfielder Carli Lloyd, who scored the winning goal in the 2008 gold medal match, hails from Delran, New Jersey, just 25 minutes from downtown Philly. Lloyd got major coverage in the Philly papers after her Olympic heroics. Defender Heather Mitts played three seasons for the Philadelphia Charge in the WUSA and lives in Philly part of the year where her boyfriend A.J. Feely plays quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage coached two seasons with the Charge as an assistant under Mark Krikorian before she took the head coaching job for the Boston Breakers. U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart is a Pennsylvania native, hailing from Gilbertsville, not far from Philly.

GOAL GRABBERS: Despite losing leading scorer Abby Wambach (who averages a goal a game during her National Team career) in the last match before the Olympics, the U.S. team ended up leading the Olympics in scoring with 12 goals, one more than Brazil, which the U.S. defeated 1-0 in the gold medal game. Even more impressive, the U.S. got goals from seven different players and assists from eight different players during the Olympics, stark proof that it was a complete team effort that won the gold medal. Aside from the USA’s two centerbacks – Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf – only substitutes Tobin Heath, Lauren Cheney and Aly Wagner (who played 15 minutes in the tournament) failed to notch at least a point in the tournament. Overall, the U.S. has scored 73 goals in 2008, an average of 2.52 a game. A trend that surely carried through to the Olympics is that the USA’s goals this year have come from 13 different players, representative of U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage’s wish and philosophy that the U.S. attack become more unpredictable and versatile. Natasha Kai (13 goals), Lindsay Tarpley (11 goals), Carli Lloyd (9 goals) and Angela Hucles (7 goals) are all having their best scoring years while forward Amy Rodriguez, who scored two game-winning goals against Brazil this year, scored six goals in her first WNT campaign. Tobin Heath also scored her first WNT goal in 2008.

U.S. Women’s National Team
ACHIEVE YOUR GOLD TOUR Roster By Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): 18-Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), 22-Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), 1-Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.);  
DEFENDERS (6): 4-Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.), 17-Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), 14-Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), 15-Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), 2-Heather Mitts (Cincinnati, Ohio), 3-Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.);
MIDFIELDERS (6): 7-Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 11-Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), 9-Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), 10-Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.), Kacey White (Arlington, Texas);
FORWARDS (2): 16-Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), 6-Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii).

Ireland Women’s National Team Roster By Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Emma Byrne (Arsenal Ladies), Lynn Bradley (Raheny United);
DEFENDERS (7): Sharon Boyle (Raheny United), Yvonne Tracy (Arsenal Ladies), Meabh De Burca (Salthill Devon), Niamh Fahey (Arsenal Ladies), Alisha Moran (Fulham FC), Ciara McCormack (FK Larvic), Ciara Grant (Arsenal Ladies);
MIDFIELDERS (5): Sonya Hughes (Tolka Rovers (FPU), Jemma Connor (West Brom (England), Mary McDonnell (Boston Renegades), Susan Byrne (St. John’s University), Aine O’Gorman (Stella Maris);
FORWARDS (4): Michele O’Brien (New Jersey Sky Blue), Stefanie Curtis (Bristol Rovers), Katie Taylor (St. Catherines), Denise Thomas (Boston Renegades).

USA AT THE LINK: This will be the third-ever match for the U.S. women at Lincoln Financial Field, the first coming in the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a 5-0 rout of Nigeria. The second was actually a loss when the USA fell 3-1 to Denmark on Nov. 6, 2004, on the Fan Celebration Tour after the gold medal run at the 2004 Olympics. That was actually the USA’s most recent domestic loss. Since that game, the U.S. has lost just two games outright – to Brazil in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinals and to Norway in the opening game of the 2008 Olympics – but none at home. In fact, the U.S. is riding a 31-match unbeaten streak in the United States (29 wins, two ties) heading into the venue of its last domestic loss. The U.S. women have actually played quite a few matches in Pennsylvania – 10 overall in six cities/towns (Ambler, Bethlehem, Hershey, Horsham, Oakford, Philadelphia and Pittsburg) – dating way back to 1991. The U.S. is 7-3-0 in those 10 matches, losing both games in Oakford, one in 1991 in China and one in 1993 to Germany. The U.S. has not been back to Oakford since.

HEATHER O HITS 100: Before the match in Philadelphia, Heather O’Reilly will be honored for earning her 100th cap. On Aug. 21 in the Olympic gold medal game, O’Reilly became the 23rd woman in U.S. Soccer history to play 100 times for the United States, earning the distinct honor of getting her 100th and a gold medal in the same game.

LAST TIME ON THE VICTORY TOUR: The last time the U.S. women went on a 10-game victory tour after an Olympic gold medal was in 2004. The U.S. team went 8-1-1 in those games, which included two matches against Iceland, two against New Zealand, two against Ireland, two against Denmark, and two against Mexico, including the tour finale which was the final match for Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain.

OPPONENT CAPSULE: Ireland
Current FIFA World Ranking: 28
Overall Record vs. USA: 0-5-0
Last Meeting vs. USA: July 23, 2006 (5-0 U.S. win in San Diego, Calif.)
Head Coach: Noel King
Key Players: G Emma Byrne, D Sharon Boyle, D Yvonne Tracy, D Niamh Fahey, M Susan Byrne, M Ciara Grant, D Alisha Moran, F Katie Taylor, F Stephanie Curtis.

USA vs. IRELAND Fast Facts: This will be the sixth meeting between the U.S. and Ireland with the Americans having won all five previous matches and in fact have allowed just one goal in those games … The last time the two teams met, the U.S. got two goals from Cat Whitehill and one each from Heather O’Reilly, Abby Wambach (on a diving header) and Natasha Kai … In the meeting before that, the teams squared off in Houston, Texas, in 2004 as part of the Fan Celebration Tour and the score was tied 0-0 at halftime before Abby Wambach scored in the 47th minute … The game remained at 1-0 until Wambach scored four times in the last 14 minutes for the final 5-0 score line … Four of Wambach’s five goals were assisted by Mia Hamm and the other was unassisted … Ireland is currently embroiled in qualifying for the 2009 UEFA Women’s Championships in Finland, but sits third in Group 2 with 12 points behind Italy (14 points) and Sweden (15 points, but with two matches left to play). Ireland and Italy both have one match to play, but the Irish are still in contention for a play-off spot and have a huge match against Sweden on Oct. 1 in Sweden … The six group winners will earn berths to Finland along side the hosts Finland, with the Group runners-up and the four third-placed teams with the best record against the rest of the top four in their pool going into two-legged play-offs in October which will qualify the last five teams in the 12-nation tournament ... Ireland has several players with U.S. ties included players who have played in the W-League or gone to college in America … Ireland coach Noel King was at the recent W-League Scouting Combine looking for players with Irish ancestry that might be able to play for his squad … Four Ireland players play for the Arsenal ladies in London, one of the top women’s clubs in the world, including six-foot goalkeeper Emma Byrne, who is one of the best female ‘keepers in Europe … Byrne is the player that got in a collision with Heather O’Reilly during the USA’s match against Ireland in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2003, resulting in a broken leg for the U.S. forward who missed the FIFA Women’s World Cup due to the injury … The then-18-year-old O’Reilly actually scored on that play just 74 seconds into her first start for the National Team … The U.S. played Ireland twice on the Fan Celebration Tour after the 2004 gold medal game, winning 5-1 in Chicago and the 5-0 win in Houston, Texas.

Stat of Note
In both the runs to the 2004 and 2008 Olympic gold medals, the U.S. won three one-goal games.

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