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U.S. Women to Open 2007 Schedule Against Germany at Four Nations Tournament in China

CHICAGO (December 21, 2006) – The U.S. Women’s National Team will open its slate of matches in 2007 by participating in the annual Four Nations Tournament from January 26-30, 2007, in Guangzhou, China, a little more than seven months before the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup is staged in the same country.

The four-team, round-robin competition will feature the USA, Germany, China and England, all teams that will compete in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, meaning the tournament will serve as excellent preparation in its simulation of a Women’s World Cup first round group, albeit, a very difficult one.

With China and Germany already being seeded into the top slots for two of the four groups at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the USA certainly in the running for one of the two remaining seeds, the tournament will be extremely competitive.

“I am really pleased with the quality of opponents we will face in China,” said U.S. WNT head coach Greg Ryan. “Playing against three potential World Cup opponents, including number-one ranked Germany, will help us continue the process of developing our young team. Our young players have more than held their own over the past two years. I am proud of them and excited to take them into this competition.”

The Americans open their tournament on Jan. 26 against Germany, a match that will bring together the world’s top two teams in the FIFA Rankings for a tremendous kick-off match to the USA’s 2007 schedule. The USA will face England on Jan. 28 and play host China on Jan. 30.

Ryan will conduct a training camp from Jan. 11-15 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., with at least 30 players before choosing a roster of 20 to travel to China. The training camp roster will be announced in the near future. This trip will mark the final time the USA will play in China before the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in September, also giving the young team valuable experience in the host country, although the American women’s team is no stranger to China. The USA has participated in five Four Nations Tournaments since 1998, and traveled to China for a pair of matches against China in 2001 when the tournament was not held.

The USA will be without four regular starters in China as Ryan will not bring forwards Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach, midfielder Aly Wagner or defender Christie Rampone. Wambach is the only one of the four that will attend the training camp.

“We will be taking a very young and talented team to the Four Nations Tournament,” said Ryan. “We will not be bringing some of our top veteran players to allow them to rejoin the team with fresh legs and minds in February. These players led the way for us in a very successful 2006 campaign and I believe this additional rest will help our team peak in the Women’s World Cup in September.”

The USA will ride a team-record 32-game unbeaten streak into the Four Nations Tournament having not lost a match in regulation time over the past two years. The USA has compiled an undefeated 26-0-5 record under Ryan, who took over as head coach in March of 2005. Since losing to Germany in the semifinal of the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the USA has gone 2-0-1 against the Germans, defeating them in the 2004 Olympic semifinal and the 2005 Algarve Cup Final, before falling in penalty kicks in the 2006 Algarve Cup Final.

The USA is 6-2-0 all-time against England, who have qualified for their first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup. The USA has rolled off six straight wins over England since dropping the first two games in the series in 1985 and 1988. The most recent meeting was a 6-0 win on May 17, 2003, on an oppressively hot day in Birmingham, Ala. The USA is 16-8-11 all-time against the Chinese, with the most recent match a 4-1 U.S. win in Bridgeview, Ill., last Aug. 27. Since 2000, the USA has gone 2-2-2 against China in China, always one of the most difficult games in the world for visiting teams.

“We will no doubt face many difficult challenges in these three matches,” said Ryan. “But this is the very best way to accelerate the development of our players individually and collectively. It is critical that the young players stand up and perform without the help of the veterans that we are leaving behind. This opportunity will only strengthen these players so that we are even more powerful when our full team returns.”

The USA won the Four Nations Tournament in 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006, failing to take top honors only in 2002. All the matches in the 2007 Four Nations Tournament will be played in Guangzhou in the Guangdong Province in the southeast part of the country. Guangzhou was the site of the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final in which the USA defeated Norway, 2-1. Since then, the USA has played seven matches in Guangzhou. Last year, the USA played all three of its Four Nations matches in Guangzhou, defeating Norway, 3-1, tying France, 0-0, and defeating China, 2-0.

2007 Four Nations Tournament Schedule
Date Match-up City
Jan. 26 China vs. England Guangzhou, China
Jan. 26 USA vs. Germany Guangzhou, China
Jan. 28 China vs. Germany Guangzhou, China
Jan. 28 USA vs. England Guangzhou, China
Jan. 30 Germany vs. England Guangzhou, China
Jan. 30 USA vs. China Guangzhou, China