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U.S. Women Set to Meet Sweden in Sweden for First Time Ever


U.S. WOMEN TO FACE SWEDEN IN SWEDEN FOR FIRST TIME EVER ON JULY 5 AT NOON ET: The U.S. Women’s National Team has played Sweden 23 times since the first meeting in 1987, but Saturday, July 5 marks the first time the teams will meet in Sweden. Making the match even more unique is that the USA is now led by a Swede in head coach Pia Sundhage, who will also be coaching against her home country for the first time. Fans can follow this historic match on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker at Noon ET (6 p.m. local) as the USA faces Sweden at Norrvalla Stadium in Skelleftea, located in northern Sweden just below the Arctic Circle. The USA is coming off an excellent result, defeating Norway 4-0 in Fredrikstad on July 2, and after a long travel day on July 3, has had just one day of recovery and training before facing the world’s third-ranked Swedes on Saturday. Of course, this will also be the first meeting between the USA and Sweden since a first-round clash at the 2007 Women’s World Cup, a 2-0 U.S. victory that was critical in the USA’s advancement to the quarterfinals.

Date      Opponent    Venue                         City                                 Kickoff / ET
July 5    Sweden       Norrvalla Stadium    Skellefteå, Sweden    *6 p.m. local / Noon ET on ussoccer.com’s MT

*The match was originally announced on ussoccer.com at 11 a.m. ET, but the official start time is 6 p.m. local / Noon ET.

PIA’S HOME: This match will be a special homecoming for Pia Sundhage, who became the first foreign coach to head the U.S. Women’s National Team when she was hired in November of 2007. Sundhage played many years of club soccer in Sweden and also coached Sweden’s Youth National Teams for 11 years from 1990-2001, coaching many of the players on the Swedish National Team today. A legendary player, she played for her country in the 1991 and 1995 Women’s World Cups, and the 1996 Olympics. She scored four goals for Sweden at the 1991 Women’s World Cup, helping the Swedes to a third-place finish. She scored one goal in the 1995 Women’s World Cup (against Germany) and played every minute of all three matches at the Atlanta Olympics. Sundhage captained the Swedish National Team for many years, playing 146 international games while scoring 71 goals. She debuted for Sweden at age 15 in 1975 against England and ended her 22-year international career at the 1996 Olympics in a win over Denmark. Sundhage led Sweden to the first European Women’s Championship in 1984, scoring the winning penalty kick against England to give her country its only European title. She also helped Sweden to two silver medal finishes and one bronze at the European Women’s Championships. In 2000, she finished sixth in the voting for FIFA Women’s Player of the Century.

WAMBACH – 99 AND COUNTING: Abby Wambach knocked in the USA’s final goal in the 4-0 over Norway on July 2, pushing her international goal total to 99 and within one shot of a very special achievement. With one more goal, she will become the ninth female player – and fifth American – to score 100 career international goals. While Sweden certainly plays stingy defense, Wambach scored twice against the Swedes at the 2007 Women’s World Cup. (Of her 99 goals, five have come against Sweden). The first goal in the 2007 WWC match came off a penalty kick and the second was one of the best of her 99 as she brought a ball down off her chest off a cross from Kristine Lilly and lashed a half-volley into the net before the Swedish goalkeeper could react.

USA RETURNS TO SWEDEN FOR FIRST TIME SINCE THE 1995 FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: The U.S. Women’s National Team has not played in Sweden for 14 years, last playing here June 17, 1995, against China in the Third Place Match at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Goalkeeper Briana Scurry is the only player on the current U.S. roster who was at that second FIFA Women’s World Cup. The USA spent most of its time in the small town of Gavle in 1995, playing four of its six WWC matches there.

U.S. Women’s National Team Roster
2008 Scandinavia Tour

GOALKEEPERS (3): 24-Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), 1-Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), 18-Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.)  

DEFENDERS (6): 26-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 (8): 7-Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 13-Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), 16-Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), 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.), 21-Kacey White (Arlington, Texas)

FORWARDS (4): 8-Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), 6-Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), 19-Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.), 20-Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.)

Sweden Women’s National Team Roster (Club)

GOALKEEPERS (2):
1-Hedvig Lindahl (Linköpings FC), 12-Kristin Hammarström (KIF Örebro)

DEFENDERS (7): 2-Karolina Westberg  (Umeå IK), 3-Stina Segerström (KIF Örebro), 4-Anna Paulson (Umeå IK), 6-Sara Thunebro (Djurgården), 7-Sara Larsson (Linköpings FC), 13-Frida Östberg (Umeå IK), 19-Charlotte Rholin (Linköping FC)  
                
MIDFIELDERS (7): 5-Caroline Seger (Linköping FC), 14-Josefine Öqvist (Linköping FC), 15-Therese Sjögran (FC Malmö), 16-Linda Forsberg (Djurgården), 17-Johanna Almgren (Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC), 18-Nilla Fischer  (FC Malmö), 21-Lisa Dahlkvist (Umeå IK)

FORWARDS (5): 8-Lotta Schelin (Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC), 9-Therese Lundin  (FC Malmö), 10-Hanna Ljungberg (Umea IK), 11-Victoria Svensson (Djurgården), 20-Jessica Landström (Linköpings FC)
             
U.S. WNT Quote Sheet - USA vs. Sweden 

Pia Sundhage on facing her home country:
The game will be bigger in my head before the game than after the game. But during the game, it will be just a game against a good team and you want to win. There will be some unusual questions before the game because I am a Swede, but during the game it will be another game that we have to work on different tactical stuff. Sweden is a very good team.”

Abby Wambach on being on the verge of scoring her 100th career goal:
“Yes, it’s a great achievement (to score 100 goals), but at this point in my career, those sort of things – the records and what not -- will be talked about when I retire. I don’t think people can play to their potential if they are always worried about their personal stats. Right now, it’s about preparing for Beijing. If after Beijing, I have a gold medal wrapped around my neck, I can talk about 100.”

OPPONENT CAPSULE: Sweden
Current FIFA World Ranking:
Overall Record vs. USA: 3-15-5
Last Meeting vs. USA:  September 14, 2007 (a 2-0 U.S. win at the 2007 Women’s World cup)
Head Coach: Thomas Dennerby

Key Players: G Hedvig Lindahl, D Sara Larsson, D Stina Segerström, D Karolina Westberg, D Frida Östberg, M Nilla Fischer, M Therese Sjögran, M Josefine Öqvist, F Hanna Ljungberg, F Lotta Schelin, F Caroline Seger, F Victoria Svensson

USA vs. Sweden Fast Facts: This match marks the meeting of the first and third-ranked teams in the world according to the latest FIFA Women’s World Rankings … A sell-out crowd of over 6,000 fans is expected at Norrvalla Stadium with this being one of the biggest sporting events ever in the Västerbottens area of northern Sweden … Norrvalla is a small stadium, which is home to the Swedish First Division women’s club Sunnanå, and they have brought in extra stands for the match … The biggest crowd thus far was 6,001 for a hockey match and the Swedes are hoping for at least 6,002 for the match … This is the first time that the Swedish women have played an international match in Skelleftea …The last meeting between the two teams was at the 2007 WWC, a gut-wrenching must-win for both sides and the USA pulled it off with a 2-0 victory while Sweden ended up not qualifying for the second round … Sweden is coming off a 5-0 victory over Ireland on June 25 that qualified them for the 2009 European Championships with two group matches still left to play … Sweden has gotten full points from all six games so far and has not conceded a goal while scoring 28 against Ireland, Italy, Romania and Hungary …  Against Ireland, Karolina Westberg scored twice, Victoria Svensson and Josefine Öqvist scored once while Lotta Schelin came off the bench to add the last goal … Schelin, Sweden’s young star attacking player, has been injured but is fit and ready for the USA (she has 17 goals in 49 games, similar to Natasha Kai, who has 19 in 49) … Sweden’s all-time leading scorer Hanna Ljungberg also returns from injury to be available for selection … Ljungberg scored her 72nd career goal at the Algarve Cup last March, passing none other than Pia Sundhage to move into the top spot on Sweden’s all-time scoring list … The USA has scored four or more goals eight times this year, but in 23 all-time meetings with Sweden, has never scored more than three  … Sweden’s last win over the USA was by a 3-1 margin on March 18, 2004, at the Algarve Cup, but the USA still qualified for the championship and went on to the win the tournament … This will be the final match before Sweden head coach Thomas Dennerby chooses his Olympic Team … Sweden is an experienced side, led by veteran captain Victoria Svensson, who has earned 146 caps and scored 63 goals … Svensson was one of the top players at the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup when Sweden advanced to the World Cup Final … Ljungberg has 128 caps while Therese Sjogran has 124.

Quick Hits
  • Abby Wambach leads the USA in scoring this year with 13 goals, but Natasha Kai (11) and Lindsay Tarpley (10) are also having excellent scoring years.
  • Carli Lloyd is the only U.S. player to start all 19 matches so far this year. Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone have started 18 each.
  • Lindsay Tarpley has 97 caps. If she plays in the next three matches for the USA, she will earn her 100th cap in the same venue where she earned her first. On Jan. 12, 2003, a 19-year-old Tarpley earned her first cap at Torero Stadium in San Diego with a late appearance against Japan. The USA will play Brazil at Torero Stadium on July 16 in the final match before the Olympics.
  • Angela Hucles’ goal against Norway on July 2 came on the longest shot (approximately 40 yards) of any U.S. goal since Cat Whitehill score against Sweden on a fluky 70-yard free-kick in July of 2006.
  • While the USA and Sweden have never met in Sweden, and have played eight times in the USA, the most meetings between the countries – nine – have come at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. The USA is 4-2-3 against Sweden in Portugal and 7-1-0 against Sweden in the United States, which includes a 2-1 victory at the 1996 Olympics in Orlando, Fla., (one of Pia Sundhage’s final international games) and a 3-1 victory to open the 2003 Women’s World Cup in Washington, D.C.
  • Nastaha Kai is set to earn her 50th cap against Sweden.
  • Sweden had a streak of six matches from March 16, 2000, until March 18, 2003 when the USA won just one game, lost one and tied four. Only China and Norway have ever head similar streaks against the USA.
  • Three U.S. players have club experience in Sweden. Kate Markgraf played for Pia Sundhage at Orebro in the Spring of 2005. Hope Solo played for Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC in 2005 and Kacey White played for Bälinge IF in 2006 and with AIK in Stockholm in 2007.

BRAZIL, TWO TIMES: The U.S. women will play its final two pre-Olympic matches against Brazil in mid-July. The USA defeated an under-strength Brazil side, 1-0, at the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea, but should be facing a more representative team in the two domestic matches starting on July 13 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. (2 p.m. MT live on ESPN). The USA will then travel to San Diego, Calif., for a July 16 game at the University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium (7 p.m. PT live on Fox Soccer Channel). For ticket information, log on to www.ussoccer.com.

U.S. WNT Olympic Send-Off Matches
Date        Opponent    Venue                                           City                                  Kickoff / TV
July 13    Brazil            Dick’s Sporting Goods Park    Commerce City, Colo. 2 p.m. MT / ESPN
July 16    Brazil            Torero Stadium                          San Diego, Calif.           7 p.m. PT / Fox Soccer Channel

FOUR IN FREDRICKSTAD: Catch Abby Wambach’s 99th career goal as well as Angela Hucles’ wonder-strike, plus Lindsay Tarpley’s 10th goal of the year and Carli Lloyd’s sixth of 2008 by logging onto ussoccer.com’s all_access video for highlights of the USA-Norway match from Fredrikstad on July 2.

Stat of Note
In the last five matches between the USA and Sweden, the USA has won four times, but out-scored Sweden just 12-7.

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