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U.S. Women To Face Mexico in Historic Clash For Top Spot in Group A

U.S. Women’s National Team
Notes from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico
Saturday, April 5, 2008

U.S. WOMEN TO FACE MEXICO IN HISTORIC CLASH FOR TOP SPOTS IN GROUP A: While both the USA and Mexico have qualified for the all important semi-finals of the 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Women’s Qualifying Tournament, the final Group A clash between the teams is set for Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. MT and fans can follow along live on’s MatchTracker. First, it is the first-ever game for the U.S. against Mexico in Mexico. Second, the winner takes the top honors in Group A and will play the second place team in Group B for a berth in the Olympics. Third, the match will be played in front of a raucous sell-out crowd at Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez that not only promises to be wildly pro-Mexico, but will create at atmosphere not often experienced by the U.S. women. In fact, the WNT will get a taste of the environment the MNT often faces when playing Mexico at home or abroad. The standing room only crowd will be the largest ever to watch the U.S.  in the Western Hemisphere (and hence the CONCACAF region) outside of the United States and should sneak into the top-10 all-time largest crowds ever to watch the U.S. women anywhere outside the USA. Log onto for more information on the U.S. team and the qualifying tournament.

TOURNAMENT FORMAT: The top two teams from Group A will advance to the semifinals, where they will cross over to face the top two teams from Group B. The winners of the April 9 semifinals will qualify for the 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Beijing. The U.S., Mexico and Canada are through to the semifinals with Costa Rica or Trinidad & Tobago up for the final spot.

LAST TIME AT OLYMPIC QUALIFYING: While the U.S. and Mexico certainly do not have the same kind of rivalry that is seen on the men’s side, the passion still runs deep and the two teams do have some history in Olympic qualifying. The USA’s meeting with Mexico in the championship match of the 2004 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament was one for the ages. That clash, in San Jose, Costa Rica, was perhaps the most exciting game ever between the two countries. The U.S. went down 2-0 after just 15 minutes as star forward Maribel Dominguez scored two lighting strikes. Lindsay Tarpley pulled a crucial goal back on a header just before halftime, and then the U.S. came out after the break on a mission, peppering the Mexican goal with shots until Abby Wambach equalized on a brilliant solo effort just 11 minutes from the end. U.S. captain Julie Foudy then dramatically won the match in the 84th minute, striking a rebound through goalmouth traffic, off the right post and into the net to give the U.S. the regional title.

CUELLAR DOES THE “IMPOSSIBLE”: Considering where the Mexican Women’s National Team program was prior to 1999, head coach Leo Cuellar’s team has to be seen as one of women’s soccer success stories of the new millennium. In 1999, Mexico became the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for a FIFA Women’s World Cup, but their failure to qualify for the last two FIFA Women’s World Cups, losing two-game playoffs to Japan both in 2003 and 2007, has made the program hungrier for more success. Mexico shocked Canada to make the 2004 Olympics by winning 2-1 in the qualifying tournament semifinal in San Jose, Costa Rica, in one of the most exciting CONCACAF women’s qualifying matches in history. With that win, Mexico became the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for the Olympic women’s soccer tournament and certainly raised the profile for the women’s game in their home country as Cuellar pulled off what many soccer pundits thought was near on impossible. Now, the Mexican media is once again embracing the women’s team, hoping that they can do what the Mexican men’s Under-23s could not, qualify for Beijing 2008.

Group A
Team W L T Pts. GF GA GD
MEX 1 0 0 3 8 1 +7
USA 1 0 0 3 6 0 +6
JAM 0 2 0 0 1 14 -14

Date Match-up Kickoff (Local)
April 2 Mexico 8, Jamaica 1 --
April 4 USA 6, Jamaica 0 --
April 6 Mexico vs. USA 1:30 p.m. MT / 12:30 p.m. PT

Group B
Team W L T Pts. GF GA GD
CAN 1 0 0 3 6 0 +6
CRC 0 0 1 1 2 2 0
TRI 0 1 1 1 2 8 -6

Date Match-up Kickoff (Local)
April 2 Canada 6, Trinidad & Tobago 0 --
April 4 Costa Rica 2, Trinidad & Tobago 2 --
April 6 Canada vs. Costa Rica 11 a.m. MT / 10 a.m. PT

Semifinals Kickoff (Local) / PT
April 9 Winner A vs. Runner-up B 5 p.m. MT / 4 p.m. PT
April 9 Winner B vs. Runner-up A 7:30 p.m. MT / 6:30 p.m. PT

Final/Third-place Game Kickoff (Local) / PT
April 12 Third-Place Game 5 p.m. MT / 4:00 p.m. PT
April 12 Championship 7:30 p.m. MT / 6:30 p.m. PT

Current FIFA World Ranking: 22
Overall Record vs. USA: 0-21-1
Last Meeting vs. USA: 1-1 draw in Albuquerque, N.M. on October 20, 2008
Head Coach: Leo Cuellar
Key Players: G Sophia Perez; D Maria Castillo, D Lulu Gordillo, M Monica Vergara, F Evelyn Lopez, M Patricia Perez, F Tania Morales, F Monica Ocampo, F Lupita Worbis, F Charlyn Corral.

USA vs. Mexico Fast Facts: The most recent meeting between these two teams occurred last fall in Albuquerque, N.M., in the USA’s final match of 2008 and produced the only tie in the series … Mexico has also managed to get within one goal of earning three other draws … Of the 22 matches played by the USA and Mexico, 18 have taken place in the USA, two were in Costa Rica (at 2004 Olympic Qualifying), one was in Haiti (at 1991 Women’s World Cup Qualifying) and one was in Canada (at 1995 Women’s World Cup qualifying) … U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage will suit up 18 of the 20 players on the roster, likely including speedy forwards Amy Rodriguez and Natasha Kai, both of whom didn’t dress against Jamaica … The USA will be looking for its 100th goal against Mexico in a series that extends back to 1991, having scored 99 and allowed seven … Mexico’s Evelyn Lopez scored four goals in her team’s 8-1 win over Jamaica in their first match of the tournament … Lupita Worbis got one goal, Tania Morales score twice and Monica Ocampo also tallied … Mexico goalkeeper Sophia Perez is a San Diego resident who starred in college at San Diego State … Defender Rubi Sandoval played her college soccer at Cal State Fullerton … Forward Iris Mora graduated from UCLA where she played for current U.S. asst. coach Jillian Ellis … Mexican forward Charlyn Corral is believed to be the youngest player ever to play against the full U.S. Women’s National Team when she came on as a sub at age 14 in a match in Charleston, S.C. in Oct. of 2005 … The USA has scored 27 goals in eight games this year, an average of 3.3 goals per game … Of the eight matches the USA has played this year, Hope Solo has played four in goal, Nicole Barnhart has played three and Briana Scurry has played one … Barnhart is the only one of the three who has yet to allow a goal in 2008, but the USA has given up just two scores … In the first 10 meetings in the series with Mexico, the USA averaged six goals a game … In the last 12 games, Mexico has managed to halve that to three goals a game.

2008 U.S. CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): 24-Nicole Barnhart, 18-Hope Solo;
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Rachel Buehler, 17-Lori Chalupny, 14-Stephanie Cox, 13-Tobin Heath, 15-Kate Markgraf, 3-Christie Rampone, 4-Cat Whitehill;
MIDFIELDERS (6): 7-Shannon Boxx, 16-Angela Hucles, 11-Carli Lloyd, 12-Leslie Osborne, 5-Lindsay Tarpley, 10-Kacey White;
FORWARDS (5): 8-Lauren Cheney, 6-Natasha Kai, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 19-Amy Rodriguez, 20-Abby Wambach.

2008 Mexico CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Pamela Tajonar, 20-Sophia Perez;
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Leticia Villalpando, 3-Rubi Sandoval, 4-Natalie Vinti, 5-Maria Castillo, 13-Lulu Gordillo, 14-Isabel Valdez, 15-Luz Saucedo;
MIDFIELDERS (6): 6-Monica Vergara, 7-Evelyn Lopez, 11-Patricia Perez, 17-Tania Morales, 22-Angelica Figueroa, 23-Rebecca Mendoza;
FORWARDS (5): 8-Carmen Padilla, 9-Monica Ocampo, 10-Lupita Worbis, 18-Charlyn Corral, 19-Iris Mora.

U.S. Players Preview Mexico Match

U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage

On facing Mexico in front of a large crowd:
“Coming to Mexico is a unique situation with all the fans. But that’s part of the game and that’s why everybody likes to play at home and that’s why you have to deal with it every time you go away, but our team loves it.”

On what she expects from the match:
“It will be a great game. Here in Mexico there will be a lot of emotions and two teams that really want to win and that is a great game to play in. It will be technical, it will be a fight, but it also will be who is smarter in the attack.”

U.S. Forward Abby Wambach

On having to defeat Mexico to win the group:
"Every game we go into, we prepare to win that game. Never has this team gone into a game hoping for tie just because it would send us through first place into our group. Regardless of the score (against Jamaica), we would have gone into the game against Mexico with the same attitude. The only thing now is that we have to win (to win the group).”

On playing in front of the Mexican fans:
"I think when we come out here (tomorrow) to play Mexico, it's going to be crazy. I think the fans are going to go nuts and I think it's going to be a great game. I'm hoping that the best team at the end of the day will be standing."

On playing in front of a partisan crowd:
"What a great environment to put ourselves in to just learn. Not many of the players on the field (tomorrow night) will have been confronted with that kind of hostile environment. I hope we can get the result that we want so we can move out of our group in first place."

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo

On the match vs. Mexico:
"It will be a grueling, battling fight to the end for 90 minutes, but it's great playing in Mexico. The fans in Juarez are incredibly passionate about their team and I think we are the underdogs in that sense."

GROUP A UPDATE: With Jamaica eliminated, the USA and Mexico are comfortably through to the semifinals, but still must determine which team goes through in the top spot. Jamaica goes home having scored one goal while allowing 14, but got a much better performance from goalkeeper Nicoda Linton against the USA than it did from Nikkishi Thomas against Mexico, when she made glaring mistakes on four of the first five goals. The USA needs a victory to win the group while Mexico, which has a plus-7 goal difference to the USA’s plus-6, needs just a tie to take top honors.

GROUP B UPDATE: Canada has qualified for the semifinal but has a bit more work to do against Costa Rica in the final group game for both teams at 11 a.m. MT on April 6 before the USA takes on Mexico. Costa Rica effectively kept itself in the tournament with a stoppage time equalizer in a 2-2 craw with Trinidad & Tobago on April 4 and now is positioned well to make the semifinals. A win for the Ticas would send them to the semifinals in first place in Group B and a tie would qualify them for the semis in second place, as would a loss by five goals or less. If Costa Rica can’t accomplish any of those three scenarios, T&T will go through in second place.

all_access VIDEO PREVIEW: Check out all_access video for a review of the USA-Jamaica game and the preview of the USA-Mexico game as the Americans prepare to enter the cauldron of Tricolor support at Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez. Due to broadcast rights restrictions, we can’t show you highlights, but the vivid goal descriptions on should help you picture them in your mind’s eye.

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