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U.S. Women Look to Clinch Quarterfinal Berth vs. New Zealand

United States Women’s National Team
Notes from Shenyang, China
Aug. 11, 2008

U.S. WOMEN TO FACE NEW ZEALAND IN SHENYANG; WIN CLINCHES SPOT IN QUARTERS: The U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team will face New Zealand on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at the Shenyang Olympic Sports Center Stadium with a win guaranteeing a spot in the quarterfinals. The USA currently sits second in Group G with three points behind Norway (six points) and a win over the Kiwis will clinch the second spot in the group, earning a quarterfinal match against the winner of Group F. The match kicks off at 7:45 p.m. local / 7:45 a.m. ET and will be broadcast live on MSNBC and the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel. Fans can also follow on’s MatchTracker. For a complete TV schedule for U.S. Olympic soccer, click here. The USA could also qualify for the quarterfinals with a tie if Norway defeats Japan. That match will take place in Shanghai concurrently with the U.S. game.

Group G
Team  W  L  T  Pts GF GA GD
NOR    2   0  0    6    3    0   +3
USA     1   1  0    3    1    2    -1
NZL     0   1  1    1    2    3    -1
JPN     0   1  1    1    2    3    -1

Aug. 6
Japan 2, New Zealand 2
Norway 2, USA 0

Aug. 9
USA 1, Japan 0
Norway 1, New Zealand 0

Aug. 12
Norway vs. Japan, 7:45 a.m. ET (Shanghai)
USA vs. New Zealand, 7:45 a.m. ET (Shenyang)

EIGHT TEAMS TO ADVANCE AFTER GROUP PLAY: The top two finishers in each of the three Olympic groups advance to the second round along with two best third-place finishers based on points. If the USA defeats New Zealand, the Americans are guaranteed a berth in the quarterfinals. But as always in the third round of group matches, numerous permutations of results could produce a different order of group finishes. The USA still has an outside chance of winning the group, but of course, that destiny is not at their own feet. They would need some major help from Japan. The winner of the USA’s Group G will face the third place team from Group E or F. The second place team from Group G will face the winner of Group F (North Korea, Nigeria, Germany and Brazil). If there is a third-place team that qualifies from Group G, it will play the winner of Group E (China, Sweden, Argentina and Canada).

SUNDHAGE, PLAYERS TALK ABOUT NEW ZEALAND: U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage, midfielder Shannon Boxx, goalkeeper Hope Solo and others talked about the upcoming match. Read a quote sheet of their comments.

TIE-BREAKERS: If two teams are tied on points at the end of group play, the simplified explanation of the tie-breakers are as follows:

  1. Goal differential
  2. Goals scored
  3. Head-to-head result
  4. Fair Play point system
  5. Drawing of lots

The two best third-place teams that advance to the quarterfinals will be determined as follows:

  1. The two teams with the most points of the three third-place teams
  2. If three teams are tied on points, the two with the best goal differential will advance
  3. If three teams are tied on points and goal differential, the two teams with the most goals scored will advance
  4. If three teams are tied on points, goal differential and goals scored, the Fair Play point system, in which the number of yellow and red cards each team has received is evaluated, will determine which teams advance
  5. Should the teams be tied on all of the above, FIFA will draw lots

USA ADVANCEMENT SCENARIOS: A win makes thing simple for the USA, but with six group matches still to play, all of which will have a bearing on who finishes in what order in all three groups, following are the USA’s advancement scenarios:

  • If the USA and Norway each get at least one point from their final Group match (via win or draw), the U.S. will finish second in Group F and play the Group G winner.
  • If the USA wins and Norway loses: The USA could win the group, provided they were able to overcome a four-goal difference as the USA is currently -1 and Norway is +3 (i.e., if the USA wins 3-0 and Norway loses 2-0, the USA would have six points and +2 goal differential while Norway would have six points and a +1 goal differential). If the USA wins the group, they will play the third-place team from Group E or F.
  • If the USA ties and Norway loses, the USA would finish third in the group based an inferior goal differential to Japan and relies on other results to see if they qualify for the quarterfinals as a third place team.
  • If the USA loses and Norway ties or wins, the USA would finish third in the group and relies on other results to see if they qualify for the quarterfinals as a third place team.
  • If the USA loses and Norway loses, the USA will finish fourth in the group and would not advance to the quarterfinals.

The prospect of the U.S. advancing as a third-place team is unlikely, as Sweden would have to lose to Canada by a large margin or North Korea would have to lose to Germany by a large margin.

BEST WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP EVER?: That has yet to be determined, but the 2008 Olympics has no doubt been the most competitive women’s world championship ever, with 11 of the 12 matches so far having been decided by one goal or ending in draws. The lone aberration, amazingly, was the USA’s 2-0 loss to Norway. No team has scored more than two goals in a match.

GROUP E OVERVIEW: Group E is up for grabs, but one would have to believe China has the upper hand, facing Argentina, which has yet to earn a point. Canada and China are atop the group with four points each, but the Canadians face Sweden (3 points) who will be battling hard for their Olympic advancement after losing to China in the opening game. Still, Canada, China or Sweden could still win the group.

GROUP F OVERVIEW: The most difficult group at the Olympics has lived up to expectations as Brazil and Germany currently sit atop the group with four points each and an identical goal differential, just like China and Canada in Group E. Brazil would seem to have the upper hand in this group, as they face Nigeria, which has lost two 1-0 games and has yet to score goal. The Germans play North Korea, which will be looking to secure advancement with a win or a tie. Once again, Brazil, Germany or North Korea could still win the group.

U.S. Women’s National Team
2008 Olympic Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 18-Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), 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 (7): 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.));
FORWARDS (3): 12-Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), 6-Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), 8-Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.).

New Zealand Women’s National Team
2008 Olympic Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Jenny Bindon, 18-Rachel Howard;
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Ria Percival, 3-Anna Green, 5-Abby Erceg, 6-Rebecca Smith, 10-Emily McColl, 17-Marlies Oostdam;
MIDFIELDERS (6): 4-Katie Hoyle, 8-Hayley Moorwood, 9-Amber Hearn, 11-Kristy Yallop, 12-Merissa Smith, 14-Kristy Hill;
FORWARDS (4): 7-Ali Riley, 13-Rebecca Tegg, 15-Emma Kete, 16-Renee Leota.

Current FIFA World Ranking: 24
Olympic History: 1996 (Did not qualify), 2000 (Did not qualify), 2004 (Did not qualify)
Overall Record vs. USA: 1-6-0
Last Meeting vs. USA: August 12, 2007 (a 6-1 U.S. win in Chicago, Ill.)
Head Coach: John Herdman

Key Players: G Jenny Bindon, D Ria Percival, D Abby Erceg, D Rebecca Smith, D Marlies Oostdam, M Hayley Moorwood, F Ali Riley, F Emma Kete.

USA vs. New Zealand Fast Facts: The USA and New Zealand last met in August of 2007 in the USA’s second-to-last match before the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup … The USA won 6-1 getting two goals and an assist from Abby Wambach as well as two goals from Carli Lloyd and one each from Lindsay Tarpley and Kristine Lilly … The USA has not met New Zealand very often over the years and this will be just eighth-ever meeting between the teams … The first-ever meeting was an historic win for the Kiwis, a 1-0 victory over the U.S. in 1987 … This is New Zealand’s best-ever performance in a world championship event, tying Japan and losing just 1-0 to Norway so far … New Zealand easily qualified out of the Oceania region, defeating Papua New Guinea in a playoff for the Olympic berth … With Australia now in the Asia confederation, the New Zealand women will become a fixture in FIFA tournaments … New Zealand striker Ali Riley is from Pacific Palisades, Calif. and attends Stanford University … New Zealand defender Rebecca Smith is from Rolling Hills, Calif., just minutes from the USA’s training base at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and was a star at Duke University …Smith, who plays her club soccer in Sweden, was the USA’s team liaison on its pre-Olympic trip to Sweden earlier this year … NZ Goalkeepers Jenny Bindon and Rachel Howard, defender Ria Percival and midfielders Hayley Moorwood, Kirsty Yallop and Emily McColl all have American connections as well, having either been born or educated in the U.S.

Quick Hits

  • The USA has almost doubled the shot total of each of its first two opponents, out-shooting Norway 20-12 and Japan 23-11.
  • Lori Chalupny, who was injured in the first minute against Norway and replaced in the 15th minute, is still listed as day-to-day. She will be evaluated on game day and then a decision on her playing status against NZ will be made.
  • New Zealand’s two goals against Japan both came off set plays. The first from Kirsty Yallop was off a corner kick and Amber Hearn scored from the penalty spot.
  • Against New Zealand, Shannon Boxx will be playing in her 99th career game for the USA.
  • Six of the USA’s last eight wins have come by 1-0 scores.
  • Both U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage and New Zealand head coach John Herdman have played 15 of the 18 players on their rosters.
  • Australia and New Zealand are the only teams the USA has ever played from the Oceania region. Now that Australia is in Asia, New Zealand is the lone all-time opponent from Oceania.

RAMPONE TO GET 200TH CAP: U.S. captain Christie Rampone will be playing in her 200th career game against New Zealand on Aug. 12. Rampone, who debuted for the USA in 1997, is playing in her third Olympics. She joins five other players who have played 200 or more times for the USA: Kristine Lilly (340), Mia Hamm (275), Julie Foudy (272), Joy Fawcett (239) and Tiffeny Milbrett (204).

REFEREES FOR USA-NEW ZEALAND: An all-European crew will work the USA-New Zealand match as Dagmar Damkova from the Czech Republic will be in the middle. The assistants will be Irina Mirt (Romania) and Katarzyna Nadolska (Poland). The USA will be wearing all white for the third game in a row while New Zealand will be wearing all black.

Stat of Note
Heading into the final day of group matches in the women’s Olympic tournament, no team has been mathematically eliminated from the competition.