U.S. WNT Notes - Focusing on Sweden
RAINY DAYS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE AS USA TRAINS AT UVA
The U.S. Women’s World Cup Team began its final preparations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2003 last Saturday, with a training session at the University of Virginia soccer practice field that was attended by about 800 fans. A misty rain fell on the U.S. players, who staged an energetic practice in the first action for the team. The Sunday training was held in the afternoon at UVA’s beautiful Klockner Stadium following the final game of Virginia Nike Soccer Classic tournament that saw the Cavaliers down the USC Trojans, 3-0. Bolstered by the crowd from that match, more than 1,000 fans watched the USA training that was also held under gray skies. The training session ended with an entertaining cross and finishing game. At the end of the drill, each player stepped out after they scored a header, leaving midfielder Aly Wagner as the last player without a goal. With her entire team and the large crowd cheering her on, Wagner snapped several hard headers at the goal, but couldn’t find the net past goalkeepers Briana Scurry and Siri Mullinix. On one shot, the ball seemed to be past Scurry, but she somehow reached back and scooped the ball off the goal line, eliciting groans from the players and fans. Several crosses later, Wagner finally ended the drill with a bullet header under the crossbar, and then leapt into the arms of Scurry to celebrate.
SUN SHINES ON USA
The sun finally came out on Monday at the perfect time as the USA took its official Women’s World Cup Team Photo at Klockner Stadium. The photo shoot provided the perfect opportunity for defender Brandi Chastain to repay Julie Foudy for a notorious prank she pulled on Chastain several years ago. As the players took their positions for the photo, every player except for team captain Julie Foudy was wearing their warm-up jacket. When the players were set in position, each player removed her jacket to reveal a t-shirt with a huge picture of Foudy on the front from the 1995 Women’s World Cup when her eyebrows were a bit more "bushy" than they are now. Underneath the photo were the words: "Got tweezers?" The team took several photos in the gag t-shirts, much to the amusement of Foudy (who took about 20 seconds to realize she was the only one wearing a U.S. uniform and not a t-shirt with her picture on it), before posing for the real team shot. The Tuesday morning training was held in spectacular warm weather and sunny skies as the USA had a lighter day after a hard training on Monday as the team begins its final run to the Women’s World Cup opener against Sweden on Sunday.
USA WILL MOVE TO D.C. TOMORROW AFTERNOON
The U.S. team will stick to its previous schedule of a Wednesday afternoon departure from Charlottesville for Washington, D.C., and is schedule to train on Thursday, Sept. 18 and Friday, Sept. 19, at Trinity College, weather permitting. Both trainings are scheduled for Noon. The USA is scheduled to train at RFK Stadium on Sept. 20 at a time to be determined, which is also weather permitting. If the USA does train at RFK Stadium on Sept. 20, or at another site, the training will be closed except for the first 15 minutes for photographers and ENG crews to get images. There will be media availability to the U.S. team back at the hotel later that afternoon, with a time still undetermined.
MEDIA CORP COMING TOGETHER
The media from all over the United States that followed the U.S. team at the 1999 Women’s World Cup is starting to come together again, as 20 reporters attended the USA’s training on Tuesday. Among the numerous interviews and media appearances the U.S. players have done or are scheduled to do, include taping interviews with ABC News Nightline this evening as well as U.S. captain Julie Foudy appearing on CNBC’s "Kudlow and Cramer" tonight.
CHRONICALING THE WOMEN’S JOURNEY
For the past couple weeks, ESPN has been following the U.S. Women’s National Team’s every move as they prepare for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup for a special documentary titled, "Road Trip With Team USA." There will be two to three shows produced during the Women’s World Cup, with the first, an hour show, airing on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2. The ESPN crew has been shooting almost non-stop in an attempt to give viewers the best behind-the-scenes footage and allow them to get to know some of the best soccer players in the world. The documentary will concentrate on the team’s trip through the Women’s World Cup, using footage of the players in the hotel, on the practice field, and everything else in between, intermixed with interviews about the journey in their quest for another Women’s World Cup championship.
AMERICANS FOCUSED ON SWEDEN
After a somber day for the U.S. team with the WUSA suspending operations on Monday, the team got back to work on Tuesday with all sights set on Sweden. The U.S. has played Sweden 17 times, holding a 10-2-5 record (30 GF, 14 GA), but the U.S. knows their opening match of the World Cup will be anything than easy. Sweden is ranked 5th in the FIFA Women’s World Ranking and has experience on its side with three prior Women’s World Cup appearances, finishing no lower than 6th place (1991 – 3rd, 1995 – 5th, 1999 – 6th).
"Obviously (WUSA suspending operations) isn’t the best timing, but we are all professional and we all know how to handle it. We all know right now that we have to be focused on the World Cup. We’re going to go out and do whatever we can to win." -- U.S. Midfielder Shannon Boxx
WE MEET AGAIN
This will be the second time the U.S. will take on Sweden in their opening match of the Women’s World Cup, as the two teams also met in their opening match in 1991 in Panyu, China. The U.S. will be hoping for a similar outcome as the women topped the Swedes, 3-2, with one goal from Mia Hamm and two from Carin Jennings, who was the first player to score in a Women’s World Cup. Now Carin Gabarra, the winner of the Golden Ball as the MVP of the 1991 Women’s World Cup has been the head women’s soccer coach at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland for 10 years. Gabarra made a surprise visit to the U.S. camp on Monday and gave and inspiring and entertaining speak to the U.S. team after lunch, then attended training.
I REMEMBER THAT GAME
There are five members of the U.S. Women’s World Cup Team that remember the USA’s1991 mach against Sweden …because they were there. Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Joy Fawcett and now head coach April Heinrichs all started for the U.S. in the 3-2 victory.
LAST MATCH VS. SWEDEN
The U.S. and Sweden tied 1-1 in the last meeting between the two teams in March during group play in the highly competitive Algarve Cup in Portugal. Aly Wagner scored the lone U.S. goal in the 18th minute on a world-class volley to help the U.S. get the draw. The result earned the U.S. first place in Group A and a place in the championship game against China, which the USA defeated 2-0 to win the title. Following is a summary of that last meeting:
Participants: United States Women's National Team vs. Sweden
Competition: 2003 Algarve Cup
Venue: Vila Real Sports Complex Stadium (Vila Real San Antonio, Portugal)
Date: March 18, 2002 - Kickoff 4:30 p.m. Local (11:30 a.m. ET)
Weather: Overcast, cold, light breeze - 58 degrees
1st 2nd Final
USA 1 0 1
SWE 0 1 1
USA - Aly Wagner (Unassisted) 18th minute.
SWE - Hanna Ljungberg (Malin Mostrom) 78th
USA: 18-Siri Mullinix; 3-Christie Pearce, 14-Joy Fawcett, 6-Brandi Chastain (4-Cat Reddick, 46), 15-Kate Sobrero; 5-Tiffany Roberts, 11-Julie Foudy - C, 13-Kristine Lilly (20-Lindsay Tarpley, 46), 10-Aly Wagner (17-Angela Hucles, 75), 9-Mia Hamm (8-Shannon MacMillan, 46), 16-Tiffeny Milbrett (12-Cindy Parlow, 16).
Subs Not Used: 1-Briana Scurry, 2-Lorrie Fair, 7-Heather O'Reilly, 19-Danielle Slaton.
SWE: 1- Caroline Jonsson; 2-Karolina Westberg, 3-Jane Tornqvist, 4-Hanna Marklund (5-Kristin Bengtsson, 57), 7-Sara Larsson (18-Salina Olsson, 90); 6-Malin Mostrom, 10-Malin Andersson - C, 14-Linda Fagerstrom (8-Frida Nordin, 76), 15-Therese Sjogran (17-Anna Sjostrom, 46); 11-Victoria Svensson (16-Josefine Oqvist, 46), 10-Hanna Ljungberg.
Subs Not Used: 12-Sofia Lundgren, 13-Anne-Maria Eriksson, 19-Sara Call, 20-Jenny Engwall.
SWEDEN WWC ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Caroline Joensson, 12-Sofia Lundgren; DEFENDERS (7): 2-Karolina Westberg, 3-Jane Toernqvist, 4-Hanna Marklund, 5-Kristin Bengtsson, 7-Sara Larsson, 18-Frida Oestberg, 19-Sara Call; MIDFIELDERS (7): 6-Malin Mostrom, 8-Frida Nordin, 9-Malin Andersson, 13-Sara Johansson, 14-Linda Fagerstrom, 15-Therese Sjoegran, 17-Anna Sjoestrom; FORWARDS (4): 10-Hanna Ljungberg, 13-Victoria Svensson, 16-Salina Olsson, 20-Josefine Oeqvist.
TALKING ABOUT SWEDEN
Midfielder and U.S. Co-Captain Julie Foudy
On playing Sweden…
"We know it’s going to be a tough challenge. We start off with Sweden, who is one of the best teams in the world and they have talented players all over the field. It will be great game for the fans to kick off our World Cup."
Forward Tiffeny Milbrett
On Sweden’s improvement...
"Sweden has improved dramatically over the past few years. They have moved away from the typically Nordic style, which is a lot of long ball and heading towards getting the ball on the ground to put together combinations. They now have a good mixture of when to get behind and use that long ball, but they also get the ball on the ground and play through. They are a team that is developing and very exciting to watch."
On playing Sweden first…
"I think it is great. The World Cup is the World Cup. If we were going to have Nigeria first, well, Nigeria is very dangerous, too. And North Korea has beaten China. So, any team we have to face is going to be tough whether it is the first, second or third game. Sweden and the U.S. know each other pretty well and I think there has been a lot of scouting to try and pick apart each team. We will be ready to play against Sweden."
U.S. Head Coach April Heinrichs
On the play of Sweden…
"Sweden is very gifted at the back in terms of possessing the ball. They have a world class striker up front in Hanna Ljungberg. She also has a partner up front in Svensson and they work very well together. On defense, they are very organized and have a great ability to separate the ball from the player. They will be tough to break down. We have a lot of respect for them, as do we for every team in the tournament."
Midfielder Kristine Lilly
On playing Sweden…
"They are going to be very strong. The last time we played them was in Portugal and I remember they were very organized. It was the best Sweden team I had seen through the years. They attacked well and were very strong. That’s what we are going to expect on Sunday. They are going to be ready to play and are one of the best teams in the world. We just have to be ready."
On facing Sweden in their first match…
"The World Cup is where you try to be the best and you have to play the best to be the best. Sweden is one of the top teams in the world and I think it is great for us to start off with them."