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Archive - Aug./Sept. 2003 (WWC Issue)

"Center Circle"
Sept. 9, 2003
Volume III, Issue 8/9

Table of Contents
Armchair Midfielder (A Look at the U.S. Women’s World Cup Team)
2) In Threes (w/ MNT midfielder Steve Ralston)
3) Whatever Happened to... (former WNT forward Carin Gabarra)
4) Queries & Anecdotes (w/ U-17 MNT defender Julian Valentin)
5) Mark That Calendar (WNT vs. Group D Opponents – Sept. 21, 25, 28)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT midfielder Shannon Boxx)
7) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Who will win the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003?)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (Women’s World Cup Trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf).


1) ARMCHAIR MIDFIELDER [A Look at the U.S. Women’s World Cup Team]

A monthly column about the State of U.S. Soccer that takes a hard look at everything from the performance of the U.S. National Teams to pro soccer in the good ‘ole U-S-of-A . If you’re looking for a viewpoint that you won’t see in a generic, nuts-and-bolts U.S. Soccer press release, you’ve come to the right place.

The Armchair Midfielder takes a gander at the almost ideal mix of experience and youth that U.S. Women’s National Team head coach April Heinrichs selected to her final 20-player roster. Now she has to decide which eleven to put on the field when the ball is kicked off on Sept. 21 in D.C. Injuries, recent play and past history will all play a part in determining the eleven that will step on the field to try to win a third Women’s World Cup trophy, so it’s no easy task. With that in mind, here’s a preview of what could be the most talented U.S. team to play in a Women’s World Cup:

Goalkeepers (2): Siri Mullinix, Briana Scurry.

There’s no doubt that Bri is back to her old self (and if you ask the Atlanta Beat star, better than in ’99) and deserves to be the one prowling the penalty area. After the disappointment of losing her starting role to Siri in 2000, she’s been on an almost three-year mission to be not only the best U.S. keeper, but the best keeper in the WUSA and the world. I have but two words: mission accomplished. If something should happen to Ms. Scurry, Mullinix is more than a dependable understudy, capable of stepping in and stepping up in a World Championship like she did in Sydney.

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A section that will let you get to know the real personalities of your favorite Men’s, Women’s and Youth National Team players through various funny and unique first-person accounts. In this issue, you’ll find:

2) IN THREEs (w/ MNT midfielder Steve Ralston)

What’s it going to be? Door number one, door number two, or door number THREE?!? Okay, so this section has less to do with "Let’s Make A Deal" and more to do with the Multiple Choice section of an SAT test. "In Threes" peeks inside the head of a select National Team player as they pick one of three choices for 20-some questions about personal tastes and pop culture.

"Just some good ol’ boys / Never meanin’ no harm…"

Sure, those lyrics capture the essence of Bo and Luke Duke from the 80’s t.v. classic "Dukes of Hazzard," but they’re also appropriate for Missouri native Steve Ralston. [Editor’s note: It’s actually pronounced Muh-zur-uh, but only if you’re barn (accent spelling) there.] The wiry midfielder headed southeast to Miami, where he starred at Florida International University before crossing the state to the "Redneck Riviera" of Tampa, Fla., where he made his name as one of the best flank midfielders in MLS history. A perennial All-Star, Ralston was the Mutiny’s most consistent player from 1996-2001 before landing in New England, where he promptly propelled the Revolution to the 2002 MLS Cup final.

Ralston has had mixed results for the U.S. Men’s National Team, making just a few appearances (a total of seven) across 1997, 1999 and 2000. But he got another call in January and has made the most of his opportunity in this post-World Cup, pre-qualifying time for the USA. Ralston scored his first national team goal in the team’s first game of 2003, and went on to appear in seven games this year. He was particularly impressive in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup, in which he dazzled crowds in Boston and Miami with three assists in the team’s third place campaign. All this from a /Midwestern guy who proudly lists his favorite fisherman as Denny Brauer (Who knew people even had favorite fishermen?). We asked him about some other things, too. Here goes:


Best U.S. city: L.A., N.Y.C. or Chicago?
"I love the warm weather of L.A., but I also like the Midwest thing, being from Chicago. Since I lived in Florida, I think I've got thinner blood, and I don't think I can survive the cold. So I'll go with L.A. But at the end of my playing days, I'm going to head back to Tampa."

Best weekend trip from St. Louis: Chicago, Lake of the Ozarks or Kansas City?
"Lake of the Ozarks. That's right where my family and I grew up. I've got lots of memories of fishing from there as a kid. Then when we got older, my friends and I would rent a pontoon boat and head toward Party Cove."

Best weekend hangout spot in Tampa: Clearwater Beach, St. Pete or Ybor City?
"Now it would be Clearwater. Ybor is more of a younger, partying crowd. Clearwater is where my wife and I got engaged, so I'm sticking with that."

Worse haircut: mohawk, mullet or bowl cut?

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3) THEN AND NOW (w/ former WNT forward Carin Jennings-Gabarra)What ever happened to what’s-her-face? Did you hear about so-and-so? Where are they now? Inquiring minds want to know. So we give you "Then and Now," a piece that will reacquaint you with a former National Team player or coach, from their exploits on the field for the USA to their current line of work or play. Are they still playing? Coaching? Maybe even day trading? Read on and find out.

Carin Jennings-Gabarra THEN:

It's a pity that Carin Gabarra, formally Carin Jennings when she ruled the world at the 1991 Women's World Cup, didn't play too many games on TV. The four-time UC Santa Barbara All-American who scored 102 career goals in college was in her National Team prime in the early 90s, a good three years before the first live broadcast of a U.S. Women's National Team game, and thus, thousands of little girls across the country were denied the chance to witness her dribbling artistry. Gabarra won the Golden Ball as the MVP of that first Women's World Cup, and her three goals in the 5-2 semifinal victory over Germany amount to one of the greatest single-game performances in U.S. history. Nicknamed "Crazy Legs" for the amazing angles that she took during her long, powerful dribbling runs that can best be described as "Maradona-esque," perhaps there’s no better compliment than the fact that she was the role model of a young Mia Hamm. Gabarra, who suffered from a painful back injury that limited her effectiveness at the 1995 Women's World Cup, bowed out of international soccer gracefully at the 1996 Olympics as a reserve. She came on at the end of the Gold medal game to end her career on the field, a place were she provided so much magic for women's soccer while scoring 53 international goals, still good for seventh on the all-time U.S. Women’s National Team list.

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4) "QUERIES & ANECDOTES" (w/ U-17 MNT defender Julian Valentin)Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team defender Julian Valentin.

The biggest star to come out of the recent FIFA Under-17 World Championship? No, not some 14-year-old American phenom named Freddy Adu. And no, not Brazil’s Leonardo. The one player to splash onto the scene was U.S. defender Julian Valentin, who found his calling in an opportunity to document the team’s trials, tribulations and travels from the tournament in Finland for Now known as simply “Jules” to his devoted online fans, the 16-year-old native and natural-born writer from Lancaster, Pa., now gets the table turned on him in a lively edition of Queries & Anecdotes.

Center Circle: Have you always had a knack for putting thoughts on paper (a.k.a. "writing")?
Julian Valentin: "Yes, I have always written – everything from poems to my thoughts (both profound and satirical)."

CC: Did doing the "Jules’ Journal" reports make you realize how hard the Press Officer’s job is, or was it a breeze?
JV: "Trying not to offend the Press Officer guild, they really don’t have much to do on trips, expect on game days when it gets extremely hectic. But other than that, it’s a nice vacation. Maybe there’s more on the inside that I don’t know about." [Editor’s note: If by vacation, he means trying to teach teenagers how to stop saying "Ummm…" and "…like…" in their interviews, then yes, guilty as charged.]

CC: How long would it take you to write a 10-page paper about your experience living at the IMG academy?
JV: "I don’t know, not too long. Maybe a day or two because that would be easy to write about. If you want me to write that later in the year, I will." [Editor’s Note: Of course, we’ll be taking him up on this at a later date. Sucker…]

CC: We heard through the grapevine that you’re writing a book. Care to provide a teaser about the plot to your growing legion of fans?

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- WNT vs. Sweden – Sunday, Sept. 21 – 12:30 p.m. ET (live on ABC)
- WNT vs. Nigeria – Thursday, Sept. 25 – 7:30 p.m. ET (live on ESPN2)
- WNT vs. North Korea – Sunday, Sept. 28 – 3:30 p.m. ET (live on ABC)

A stern reminder about an upcoming U.S. Soccer-related event, whether you plan to check it out live and in person, on the "telly" or that wacky world wide web.

It’s #1 vs. #5 in arguably the best game of the opening weekend of the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003. The USA, who are 0-1-2 against the Swedes in their last three matches, will have their hands full with established scorer Hanna Ljunberg and company, who have improved enough to be included in the same breath with traditional European powers like Norway and Germany. Stuck in a difficult Group A, April and the gang will need a strong start to boost their confidence in the next two matches. The road to a third world title starts in the nation’s capital at historic RFK Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 21 at 12:30 p.m. (ET).

Next up is Nigeria (ranked #23), who caught the U.S. off-guard in a similar opening round match in ’99. The Super Falcons scored in the fifth minute to stun the sold-out Soldier Field crowd, but it was only a matter of time before the potent U.S. attack got going and poured in seven unanswered goals for a 7-1 result. Don’t expect it to be that lopsided this year, as Nigeria still embodies perhaps the most athletic and physical team in the field. The battle begins on Thursday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field.The USA’s final Group A match finds them playing yet another ’99 opening round foe. And like Nigeria, it’s a team that nobody wants to play. While Korea DPR (or North Korea to most; ranked #25) struggled to make any kind of impact four years ago, now they’re the defending Asian champions and have defeated China not once, not twice, but three consecutive times. If the U.S. comes into this game with the pressure of needing three points, added to the politically-charged environment that already surrounds this match-up, expect this contest to have all the drama and pressure of a Women’s World Cup final. It all unfolds at what will surely be a sold-out Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday, Sept. 28 at 3:45 p.m. (ET).

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6) SUPERSTAR!!! (w/ WNT midfielder Shannon Boxx)

A monthly feature about a U.S. Men’s, Women’s or Youth National Team player who demands that bright, shining spotlight.

Shannon Boxx seemingly came out of nowhere to recently earn a spot on the 2003 Women’s World Cup Team, but the benefits of the WUSA tell the true story: to dominate in the league is one way to get your shot at the U.S. Women’s National Team. But while the rugged defensive midfielder was the biggest surprise on the 20-player roster, she is ready to do her part.

On Sunday, August 24, Shannon Boxx walked into her post-training camp meeting with U.S. Women’s National Team head coach April Heinrichs on the 14th floor of the Westin Hotel in downtown San Diego.

Her expectations? Maybe that Heinrichs wouldn’t pick the U.S. Women’s World Cup Team for another week, and that she might get a chance to earn a cap on Sept. 1 against Costa Rica and take a step toward making 2003 Women’s World Cup roster.

Maybe Heinrichs would tell her that she did well in the four days of training, and that she was in the future plans, and that she would see her regularly after the Women’s World Cup.

"She said right away that she was picking the team," said Boxx. "So I thought to myself, well there goes my chance to play in a game before she picks the team."

Not quite. Heinrichs had some different news for Boxx, a 5’8" midfielder who was coming off her best pro season after being named a WUSA All-Star and All-WUSA First-Team selection in 2003.

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7) "POINT/COUNTERPOINT" (Who will win the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003?)

In this playful piece, we pose a question or make a statement about something in soccer that will be opined about, agreed and disagreed on, by YOU, the reader. No more talking heads giving safe, politically correct answers. Those days are over. Instead, we’ve opened the floor to everyone out there in Cyberland to throw in their two cents.

Oh, come on. Surely one of the other 15 teams competing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003 has a chance to wrestle the world title away from Team USA. But you were having none of that. In predictable fashion, nine out of every 10 responses had the Stars & Stripes repeating as world champs. In fact, only Canada and Norway were tabbed to take down the #1 team in the world. Here are the best of the best responses:


"The 2003 Women's World Cup will once again show the dominance of U.S. Women's soccer. Other countries may have caught the fever, but the U.S. still holds the trophy and will retain their title after all is said and done in Los Angeles on October 12. Challenged by Norway, China, Brazil, Nigeria, and the rest of the competing nations, our veteran group will have enough young talent to assist them in front of frenzied, sold out crowds to overcome all obstacles. The depth of the U.S. attack is unparalleled in Women’s World Cup history. Hamm, Milbrett, Parlow, MacMillan and Wambach will go on a goal-scoring tear that has never been seen before in any competition. A strong and focused midfield consisting of Lilly, Foudy, Roberts, and Wagner will set up the forwards regularly. The giant defensive wall of Fawcett, Chastain, Sobrero and Pearce will drop all advances. And anyone who may penetrate the powerful U.S. side will have to stare down either Scurry or Mullinix, a daunting task that will have coaches scratching their heads in goalless disbelief. Yes, the U.S. women are even stronger than ever before, and this time around teams will be lucky just to step on the field with the most amazing soccer team in history."
- Sara Bird / 26 / Morgantown, WVa.

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8) "YOU DON’T KNOW JACK (MARSHALL)" (Women’s World Cup Trivia)

Think you know your soccer trivia? We’ll be the judge of that. Pop quiz: who the heck is Jack Marshall? Even the trivia buffs in the U.S. Soccer Communications Department would be hard-pressed to tell you that one Jack Marshall received his one and only cap way back in 1926. Okay, that was pretty much impossible. They get easier. We give you four questions at varying difficulty levels, from 1 (easiest) to 4 (hardest).

When you win two Women’s World Cups and finish third in another, there are plenty of good things to talk about. In turn, there are plenty of good things to test you regarding the U.S. Women’s National Team’s dominance in the main event.

Q1: Who holds the records for most goals scored in a single Women's World Cup game and a single Women's World Cup tournament?
Q2: Which three players on the United States 2003 Women's World Cup roster have scored goals in each of the three previous Women's World Cup Competitions?
Q3: Which former U.S. Women’s National Team member tied with teammate Tiffeny Milbrett for the team scoring lead at the ’95 Women’s World Cup with three goals?
Q4: Which team has the U.S. faced more than any other in Women's World Cup play?

Answers: /articles/viewArticle.jsp_42881.html


Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (A Look at the U.S. Women’s World Cup Team)
2) In Threes (w/ MNT midfielder Steve Ralston)
3) Whatever Happened to... (former WNT forward Carin Gabarra)
4) Queries & Anecdotes (w/ U-17 MNT defender Julian Valentin)
5) Mark That Calendar (WNT vs. Group D Opponents – Sept. 21, 25, 28)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT midfielder Shannon Boxx)
7) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Who will win the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003?)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (Women’s World Cup Trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf).

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