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U.S. WNT Set for Four Nations Opener Against Canada


U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes - Guangzhou, China
Tuesday, January 15, 2008


U.S. WOMEN SET FOR FIRST MATCH OF 2008: After six days of training and adjusting to the time change in China, the U.S. Women’s National Team is set for the first match of 2008, and first-ever game under head coach Pia Sundhage. The USA opens the year against Canada at 1 p.m. local (12 a.m. ET) at the Guangdong Olympic Center Stadium in what will be a meeting of old foes with many new players on both sides. This match begins the 24th year of play for the U.S. Women’s National Team, although the team played just one match in 1989 and just two in 1992. It will also be the 40th match between the USA-Canada, which first met in 1986 and have averaged at least one meeting a year, every year since then. The USA holds a 33-3-3 record against Canada and the teams will likely meet again at Olympic Qualifying in April. Canada and the USA have met in every CONCACAF qualifying tournament that the USA has competed in except for the qualifying for the 2004 Olympics, when Canada fell to Mexico in the semifinal. The USA is 17-3-3 in matches to open a calendar year, with three of the games, all wins, coming at the Four Nations Tournament. The U.S. team has not lost an opener since 2001, when it fell to China in a friendly match by a 1-0 score in Panyu. While the USA has played Canada 39 times, just one of those came in a first match of the year, and that was a 2-0 win in the first-ever meeting between the teams.

FOUR NATIONS SCHEDULE SET: After a change in city, and of course stadiums, and a bit of shifting in kickoff times, the schedule for the 2008 Four Nations Tournament is set. The massive Guangdong Olympic Sports Center Stadium, which opened in 2001, will host all matches. While the 80,000 seats will not be close to filled, China’s matches in this tournament have drawn large and vocal crowds to the impressive venue which features one of the most spectacular roofs of any stadium in the world, covering almost all of the seats. The playing surface is in excellent shape and all four teams have significant motivation. The USA and Canada are getting ready for Olympic qualifying in April, Finland is preparing to host the 2009 European Women’s Championships and, of course, China is preparing to host the 2008 Beijing Olympics. All of China’s matches will be broadcast live on CCTV 5, China’s national sports network.

2008 Four Nations Tournament - Guangdong Olympic Stadium, Guangzhou, China
January 16
USA vs. Canada        1 p.m. local / 12 a.m. ET
China vs. Finland      3:30 p.m. local / 2:30 a.m. ET

January 18
China vs. Canada     2 p.m. local / 1 a.m. ET
USA vs. Finland         4:30 p.m. local / 3:30 a.m. ET

January 20
Canada vs. Finland  1 p.m. local / 12 a.m. ET
USA vs. China            3:30 p.m. local / 2:30 a.m. ET

United States Women’s National Team Roster
2008 Four Nations Tournament

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), 18-Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.);
DEFENDERS (6): 14-Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), 6-Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), 26-Ali Krieger (Dumfries, Va.), 3-Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.), 27-Becky Sauerbrunn (St. Louis, Mo.), 4-Cat Whitehill (Birmingham, Ala.);
MIDFIELDERS (7): 7-Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 17-Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), 25-Tina DiMartino (Massapequa Park, N.Y.), 16-Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), 11-Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), 12-Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis.), 10-Angie Woznuk (El Cajon, Calif.);
FORWARDS (5): 8-Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), 9-Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), 19-Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.), 5-Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), 20-Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.).

Canada Women’s National Team Roster
2008 Four Nations Tournament

GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Karina LeBlanc, 18-Erin McLeod, 20-Stephanie Labbé;
DEFENDERS (6): 3-Melanie Booth, 6-Alexandra Marton, 9-Candace Chapman, 11-Randee Hermus, 14-Melissa Tancredi, 15-Clare Rustad;
MIDFIELDERS (6): 5-Jonelle Filigno, 7-Rhian Wilkinson, 10-Martina Franko, 13-Kaylyn Kyle, 17-Brittany Timko, 19-Sophie Schmidt;
FORWARDS (6): 2-Amy Vermeulen, 4-Taryne Boudreau, 8-Monica Lam-Feist, 12-Christine Sinclair, 16-Julie Armstrong, 21-Jodi-Ann Robinson

CONCACAF OLYMPIC QUALIFYING SET FOR CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO: After originally confirming the 2008 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification for Chihuahua, Mexico, CONCACAF has confirmed a change in venue due to stadium issues. The tournament will remain in state of Chihuahua but will now take place at the Estadio Olímpico Benito Juarez in Ciudad Juarez. The dates remain the same with the tournament running from April 2-13. The six-team tournament, which will qualify two teams to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008 will feature the USA along with North Zone representatives Canada and Mexico, Central Americans Costa Rica, plus Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago from the Caribbean. The draw and schedule will be announced in the near future.

MEET ALI KRIEGER: Virginia native Ali Krieger hails not far from where Mia Hamm went to high school. The former Penn State All-American made her first-ever National Team roster for this Four Nations Tournament and now will get to wear the U.S. Women’s National Team jersey of her role model wore for so long. Meet Ali Krieger as she answers 11 questions for ussoccer.com.

ANGELA GOES TO AFRICA: U.S. midfielder Angela Hucles used part of her December break to travel to South Africa to do humanitarian work. It was an eventful and eye-opening trip for Hucles, and we’re not even talking about the marriage proposal. To find out more, check out the story of her trip on ussoccer.com.

RAMPONE TAKES THE ARMBAND: The Canada match will mark the first game for Christie Rampone as the new captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team. She captained the team during her 100th cap in 2003 against Brazil in New Orleans, but this will be her first game in the official capacity. Rampone went to college at Monmouth University on a basketball scholarship, but after scoring 79 goals in 80 games as a forward, got a chance with the U.S. team at defender in 1997 under former head coach Tony DiCicco. Three FIFA Women’s World Cups and two Olympic Games later, she’s now the team’s captain. Rampone played a bit of midfield in 1997 (when she scored two of her four career goals), but has played exclusively at defender since then while compiling 176 career caps, most of any player on the Four Nations roster and tied for seventh most in U.S. history.

SWEDISH TO FRENCH: When current U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage served as assistant coach under China head coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors in 2007, the coaching staff was primarily Swedish. Now China is coached by Frenchwoman Elizabeth Loisel, who has a primarily French staff, meaning the Chinese players are definitely getting a multi-lingual experience over the past year. With Sundhage speaking English and Swedish, Canada head coach Even Pellerud speaking Norwegian and English, Finnish head coach Michael Kald speaking Finnish and English and Loisel speaking French and some English, today’s pre-tournament press conference with all four head coaches featured a great deal of translating. Loisel’s comments were translated from French to Chinese to English.

A few quotes from U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage.

U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage
On the Four Nations Tournament:
“It’s nice to play against three different soccer styles and deal with that. But regardless of the opponent, we need to play our game, keep possession and then get organized in defending. We will defend in different ways depending on who we will play. And of course, we want to win.

“We have some new players and everyone will get some playing time, which I think it is important. We will have players on our bench in the Olympic qualification in Mexico and it’s important that they can come off the bench and make a difference. We will have a chance to give some players that experience with the three games.”

On her first roster selection:
“It is difficult because there are so many good players. There are some players I have never seen before, and then you get a chance to see a player and get to know them and their talents and try them in different spots. That is one of the great things about soccer.

“Performance is important. There will always be another chance for the young players. It’s important for young players to be patient and learn as much as possible from the older players. They are role models. Even if you don’t make it the first time, or the second time, you may still have a chance if you have a passion for the game.”

On the first game of 2008:
“First of all, I am happy to be back in China and that we are able to participate in this tournament. It will be special because it is the first game for me and the team together and the first game for our new captain Christie Rampone. I hope it will be a good start for our journey in 2008.”

USA vs. CANADA PREVIEW: While the USA has brought a young team to China, so has Canada, which features a number of teenagers in addition to 12 veterans of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, including forward and captain Christine Sinclair, one of the world’s best who has scored more than 80 goals for her country. U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage has said she will give playing time to the younger players on her roster, and Canada coach Even Pellerud may do so as well, but the U.S. also has 12 veterans of its 2007 WWC run at its disposal. The USA-Canada games are always physical matches and the tall Canadians are one of the few teams in the world that can consistently keep pace with the USA in aerial battles. That rough and tumble nature of USA-Canada matches will also challenge a U.S. team attempting to implement a new attacking philosophy under Sundhage, while also putting pressure on a young defense led by new captain Christie Rampone. Both teams have similar goals in mind and are using this tournament as preparation for Olympic Qualifying, but the U.S. team will certainly be motivated to make Sundhage’s debut a victory.

TOURNAMENT RULES: There will be five substitutes allowed per team, per game. The first tie-breaker is goal difference, followed by goals scored, followed by the head-to-head result. While games on the first two match days can end in draws, if on the final match day, two teams end their match tied, and those two teams are also tied on points and goal difference, there will be 30 minutes of “golden goal” overtime played, followed by penalty kicks if necessary. As usual in the Four Nations Tournament, there will be an MVP awarded for each match, as well as Best Player, Top Scorer, Best Goalkeeper, Best Coach, Best Referee and Fair Play Awards given out at the end of the tournament.

ROOKIES IN CHINA: Four players on the U.S. roster have yet to earn a cap at the senior level in Tobin Heath, Tina DiMartino, Ali Krieger and Becky Sauerbrunn. Midfielder Angie Woznuk has one cap, but that was earned two and half years ago in an eight-minute performance against Iceland at The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. Forward Amy Rodriguez has five caps, but her most recent was almost two years ago in a four-minute stint in the championship game of the 2006 Algarve Cup in Portugal. Lauren Cheney has two caps, but last played eight months ago in a 5-0 win over Mexico in Boston, a match in which she scored her first-ever goal.

Stat of Note
New Jersey might be the new California as far as the WNT is concerned. California has long been fertile ground for the development of Women’s National Team players. At times over the years, perhaps 40 percent of U.S. rosters have been made up of Californians. On the 2008 Four Nations Roster, there are as many players from New Jersey – four – as from California. The USA also has two players from New York in Abby Wambach (Rochester) and Tina DiMartino (Long Island).

They Said It:

U.S. midfielder and UCLA junior Tina DiMartino, who has been hitting the schoolbooks hard when not at training, on the truth about her academic tendencies:

“That’s one thing people don’t know about me…When it comes to school, I’m a nerd.”
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