U.S. Women’s National Team
Achieve Your Gold Tour
Oct. 31, 2008
WITH GOLD ACHIEVED, U.S. WNT EMBARKS ON POST-OLYMPIC TOUR: After the rousing and emotional run to the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, the U.S. Women’s National Team resumes its Achieve Your Gold Tour with three matches against South Korea. The USA won the first three games of the tour over Ireland, earning three consecutive shutouts in mid-September. The Achieve Your Gold Tour, which will take the gold medalists across the USA to celebrate with the fans, will conclude the team’s activity in 2008 which has already featured 30 matches in seven different countries. Kickoff for Saturday’s game against South Korea is set for 6 p.m. ET from University of Richmond Stadium. Tickets are still available for the match (cash only for purchases made at the gate) and fans can follow along live at ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
WHAT A YEAR: The USA heads into the first match against the Koreans with a 29-1-1 record so far, the only loss coming in the opening game of the 2008 Olympics to Norway, a setback from which the USA famously rebounded to win the gold. In one of the most amazing and successful years in U.S. Women’s National Team history, the USA has won all five tournaments it has entered, taking the Four Nations Tournament in China in January, the Algarve Cup in March in Portugal, the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico in April, the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea in June and of course, the Olympic Games in August.
U.S. WNT Achieve Your Gold Tour
|Date||Opponent||Venue; City||Kickoff / Result|
|Sept. 13||Ireland||Lincoln Financial Field; Philadelphia||2-0 W|
|Sept. 17||Ireland||Giants Stadium; East Rutherford, N.J.||1-0 W|
|Sept. 20||Ireland||Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.||2-0 W|
|Nov. 1||South Korea||Univ. of Richmond Stadium; Richmond, Va.||6 p.m. ET|
|Nov. 5||South Korea||Paul Brown Stadium; Cincinnati||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Nov. 8||South Korea||Raymond James Stadium; Tampa, Fla.||7 p.m. ET|
|Dec. 17||China||Ford Field; Detroit||7:30 p.m. ET|
WNT SETS WINS RECORD FOR CALENDAR YEAR: In one of the most successful years in U.S. Women’s National Team history, the U.S. women have already broken one of its most hallowed team records by winning its 29th game of the year on Sept. 20 in Chicago, Ill., against Ireland. The previous high was set in 2004 when the USA went 28-2-4. The U.S. women won 26 games in 2000 (with six losses and nine ties) and 25 games in 1999. The USA is currently 29-1-1 this year with seven matches likely left including tonight, meaning the team will surely shatter that record for wins in 2008.
GOLD, SILVER, BRONZE: In the first Olympics contested with 12 teams (there were eight in 1996 and 2000 and 10 in 2004), the tournament turned out to be one of the most competitive events in women’s soccer history. Through the first 12 first round games, just one match was decided by a margin larger than one goal, and that was the USA’s 2-0 loss to Norway. Although there were some goal explosions in the final round of group games and in the knockout rounds, the growth of the women’s game was clearly evident over the 16 days of the tournament. A full 25 percent of the teams played in the Olympics for the first time: North Korea, Canada, New Zealand and Argentina. Three of the four (excluding Canada) failed to make the quarterfinals.
GOAL GRABBERS: Despite losing leading scorer Abby Wambach (who is averaging a goal a game during her National Team career) in the last match before the Olympics, the U.S. team ended up leading the Olympics in scoring with 12 goals, one more than Brazil, which the USA defeated 1-0 in the gold medal game. Even more impressive, the USA got goals from seven different players and assists from eight different players during the Olympics, stark proof that it was a complete team effort that won the gold medal. Aside from the USA’s two center-backs – Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf – only substitutes Tobin Heath, Lauren Cheney and Aly Wagner (who played 15 minutes in the tournament) failed to notch at least a point in the tournament. Overall, the USA has scored 78 goals in 2008, an average of 2.44 a game. The USA’s goals this year have come from 14 different players, representative of U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage’s wish and philosophy that the U.S. attack become more unpredictable and versatile. Natasha Kai (15 goals), Lindsay Tarpley (11 goals), Carli Lloyd (9 goals) and Angela Hucles (7 goals) are all having their best scoring years. With one more goal, O’Reilly will notch her best-ever scoring year as well. Forward Amy Rodriguez, who scored two game-winning goals against Brazil this year, scored six goals in her first WNT campaign. Tobin Heath also scored her first WNT goal in 2008.
HUCLES IS HUGE IN CHINA: Virginia Beach, Va., native Angela Hucles returns to her home state at the end of her best-ever year as a member of the U.S. WNT by far as her four goals at the 2008 Olympics will go down as one of the best clutch tournament performances in U.S. history. Heading into the Olympics, she was a reserve who had started just one match in 2008. She had scored three goals for the USA, two of them late game-winners and a third a spectacular strike from 40 yards against Norway in Fredrikstad, but until 30 minutes were gone in the USA’s final pre-Olympic match, Hucles was heading to China as a role player off the bench. That all changed when Abby Wambach went down with a broken leg. Hucles entered the game against Brazil and helped the USA come away with a 1-0 victory. Thrust into a starting role in China at forward, her college position, but one she had rarely played since, she came up huge for the USA, leading the team in scoring with four goals in the tournament. The four goals actually came in three consecutive matches, one against New Zealand in the Group G finale, one against Canada in the quarterfinal and two against Japan in the semifinal. Hucles had scored just five over her entire career heading into this year, but now has seven in 2008 as well as a place in U.S. Women’s National Team lore.
HUCLES TO HIT 100: Should Angela Hucles play in the first two matches against South Korea, she will earn her 100th cap against the Koreans on Nov. 8 in Tampa, Fla. Hucles will become the 24th player in U.S. history to earn her 100th cap. In a testament to her versatile contributions over the years, should Hucles start the next two games, she will have 39 starts her in first 100 games, almost surely the least starts in the first 100 matches of any of the previous 23 players in the 100-cap club.
MITTS – THE PRIDE OF CINCINNATI: U.S. defender Heather Mitts will play in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, with the U.S. National Team for the second time, the first coming four years ago on the post-Olympic tour after winning the gold medal in Athens, Greece. Mitts had a stellar Olympic Tournament, starting all six games and played a key role in helping slow the vaunted Brazilian attack in the gold medal game. Mitts, who attended St. Ursula Academy, was First-Team All-State as a junior and senior and helped the Bulldogs to a 70-5-10 record during her high school career, winning the 1993 state title.
MARKGRAF ERASES GOOSE EGG, FINALLY: Well, it took 193 matches, but U.S. defender Kate Markgraf finally scored her first international goal. The long-awaited goal came in the 31st minute of the USA’s Sept. 20 match against Ireland in Bridgeview, Ill. when Markgraf stepped up and buried a penalty kick in the lower left corner. Prior to the start of the Achieve Your Gold Tour, Markgraf’s teammates had been lobbying for her to take a penalty if one came down the pipe, and after Natasha Kai was cut down in the area, all eyes turned to Markgraf. With a little prodding from fellow center-back Christie Rampone, Markgraf jogged to the penalty spot and scored her first goal in 13,352 minutes of action with the U.S. Women’s National Team. Her goal-less streak has been the topic of much humor over the years, but truth be told, Markgraf was both excited and relieved to finally back one. Markgraf by far owns the record for most games played without a goal (and will likely always hold the record), but her current caps/goals line of 193/1 has forever erased the goose-egg from the goals column. Next up? Score one from the run of play!
ACHIEVE YOUR…NCAA TITLE: The three college players on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team will not be competing on this section of the Achieve Your Gold Tour, as they are busy trying to win games for their universities, but all three played a role in the USA’s gold medal run. During 2008, U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage incorporated a number of young players into team, most notably forward Amy Rodriguez (21), who ended up starting five of the six matches at the Olympics, scoring a goal against New Zealand while terrorizing opposing back lines with her speed, strength and tenaciousness. She has scored her first six goals for the USA this year. Rodriguez, who helped USC to its first NCAA title in 2007, is back with the Women of Troy trying to repeat during her senior year. Across town in Los Angeles, forward Lauren Cheney is back with UCLA for her junior year, the 21-year-old striker having played her role off the bench in the final three Olympic matches to perfection. Considering she was named to the Olympic team just before the Games to replace the injured Abby Wambach, Cheney’s contribution to the gold – which included 50 solid minutes of action in the championship game, was another sign of how the team came together in China. The USA’s youngest player, midfielder Tobin Heath, saw action off the bench in three games for the USA, but impressed in what playing time she got leading into the Olympics. She earned her first 17 caps in 2008 and provided some dynamic play on the flanks to hint that she could be an important player for the team in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
DEFENSIVE ROLES: Two young players just out of college also contributed greatly to the USA’s championship run. Defender Rachel Buehler (22), who played for the USA at the 2002 and 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cups, earned her first caps in 2008 and earned her place on the Olympic team with solid play all year long. She played all 90 minutes against New Zealand in China as Kate Markgraf got a valuable rest that surely helped her stellar performance in the gold medal game. Stephanie Cox (22) is a virtual woman among girls with 51 full National Team caps, six starts in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and two FIFA youth Women’s World Cups on her resume. She made a late run to make the Olympic Team after an injury to Cat Whitehill, then after an injury to Lori Chalupny in the first match, started and played 80-plus minutes in the crucial 1-0 victory of Japan in the second match of Group C.
EIGHT PLAYERS GET SECOND GOLD: The U.S. team has changed quite a bit from the squad that dramatically captured the gold medal in 2004. But eight players who were a part of that 2004 team won their second gold medal and seven played a major role in the tournament: defenders Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone, and Kate Markgraf, midfielders Shannon Boxx, Lindsay Tarpley, and Heather O’Reilly and forward Angela Hucles. Aly Wagner also won her second gold medal. Of the eight, all but Mitts, Hucles and Wagner saw significant action in Greece. This was the third Olympics for Rampone and Markgraf, who also won silver in 2000.
LAST TIME ON THE VICTORY TOUR: The last time the U.S. women went on a 10-game victory tour after an Olympic gold medal was in 2004. The U.S. team went 8-1-1 in those games, which included two matches against Iceland, two against New Zealand, two against Ireland, two against Denmark, and two against Mexico, including the tour finale which was the final match for Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain.
DALMY, ELLERTSON REJOIN SQUAD: Defenders Marian Dalmy and Tina Ellertson join the U.S. roster for the three matches against South Korea after returning from injury and pregnancy, respectively. Both were members of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team. Ellertson played in three matches off the bench while Dalmy played in two, starting one, which was USA’s rousing 4-1 win over Norway in the Third-Place Match. Dalmy was injured in that game and her long recovery from knee surgery is just about complete. Ellertson had her second child this year, another daughter, and has rounded herself into shape for a call-up for the Achieve Your Gold Tour games. Dalmy has just five career caps while Ellertson has 30.
LLOYD HAVE MERCY: With her game-winning goals in the USA’s two 1-0 victories at the Olympics, Carli Lloyd once again proved her worth as a big-game scorer. During the run-up to the Olympics, Lloyd notched massive goals for the USA for two matches in a row after also tallying in overtime in the championship game of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico, a goal that looked like a game-winner until Canada tied the game with a few minutes left in OT to send the match to PKs, and then scored in stoppage time to defeat Australia in wild 3-2 shootout with Australia in Cary, N.C.. She has nine total goals this year, the most ever by a U.S. midfielder in a calendar year who wasn’t named Kristine Lilly or Shannon MacMillan.
OPPONENT: South Korea
Current FIFA World Ranking: 23
Overall Record vs. USA: 0-3-0
Last Meeting vs. USA: Oct. 3, 1999 (5-0 U.S. win in Columbus, Ohio)
Head Coach: An Iksoo
Key Players: G Jun Min Kyung, D Kim Yoo Mi, M Kwon Hah Nul, M, Kim Huiyeong, F Cha Yun Hee, F Park Hee Young.
USA vs. SOUTH KOREA Fast Facts: Despite South Korea being a long-time participant in Asian competitions, the USA has played Korea just three times in its history and will double that amount of games on the Achieve Your Gold Tour … The USA has had little trouble with South Korea, winning the three games by a combined 18-1, but has not played them since 1999 … South Korea failed to advance out of group play at the most recent Asian Women’s Championships that took place in Vietnam last summer … The Koreans finished group play with a 2-1 record, as did Japan and Australia, but they failed to beat up on group doormat Chinese Taipei to the extent that the Japanese and Aussies did and thus finished third in the group and failing to advance … During group play, the Koreans did pick up an impressive 3-1 win over Japan, which would eventually finish third in the tournament … Forward Park Hee Young scored twice against Japan while forward Cha Yun Hee scored the other goal … Captain Kim Yoo Mi scored one of the goals in the 2-0 win over Chinese Taipei while Hong Kyung Suk scored the other … The U.S. team has gone unbeaten in its last 25 games against teams from Asia, a streak that includes 20 wins and five ties (it also includes matches against Australia, which move several years ago from the Oceania to the Asia confederation) … The last time the USA lost to a team from Asia was a the 2003 Four Nations Tournament in China, a 2-0 loss to China.
U.S. WNT Quick Hits:
- Natasha Kai’s 15 goals this year – a career high in a calendar year for the Hawaiian -- makes her the eleventh player in U.S. history to score in double figures in a calendar year. Lindsay Tarpley, with 11 goals, is the twelfth. Mia Hamm scored in double-figures eight times and Tiffeny Milbrett and Kristine Lilly accomplished the feat four times.
- With her start against Ireland on Sept. 17, U.S. captain Christie Rampone earned her 205th career cap (she now has 206), passing Tiffeny Milbrett to move into fifth place on the all-time caps list. With her start against Ireland on Sept. 20, Kate Markgraf earned her 193nd cap, moving her past Brandi Chastain for seventh on the all-time caps list.
- Heather Mitts leads the USA in yellow cards this year with three, two of them coming at the 2008 Olympics.
- Kai leads the team with 15 goals, while Abby Wambach has 13 despite missing the Olympics. Kai and Wambach are tied as the team’s leading scorer in 2008 with 36 points each.
- Carli Lloyd is the only U.S. player to start all 31 games in 2008. Christie Rampone has started 30 while Heather O’Reilly and Shannon Boxx have started 28.
- Heather O’Reilly has nine assists in 2008, which surpasses her career total during her National Team career from 2002-2007 when she notched eight.
- U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo has a 21-1-0 record in 2008 and a 58-5-8 all-time record.
- Tarpley’s 28 goals put her tied for 13th on the USA’s all-time scoring list.
- Since returning from her year-long rehabilitation from a knee injury against Australia on April 27 of 2008, Heather Mitts made a run to and through the Olympics that has seen her start all 20 games the USA has played since her return and play 1,551 minutes, sitting out just 348 minutes of those 20 matches.
- Christie Rampone leads the USA in minutes played this year with 2,647 and has started 29 of the USA’s 30 matches.
- Angela Hucles has played 17 matches off the bench for the USA this year, the most games played as a sub for a U.S. player in 2008. Tobin Heath came off the bench 13 times, Amy Rodriguez came off the bench 14 times.