CHICAGO (Aug. 29, 2014) – U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named 28 players for a training camp prior to two matches against Mexico, on Sept. 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, and on Sept. 18 at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, New York.
The Sept. 13 kickoff time has changed to 7:30 p.m. MT and the game is live on ussoccer.com (TICKETS). The Sept. 18 match kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and WatchESPN (TICKETS). Fans can also follow the U.S. WNT on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and @ussoccer_esp.
This will be the first extended training period Ellis has had with the team since she was officially named the head coach on May 16. It will also be the final camp and matches before she names a 20-player roster that will attempt to qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup at the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship being held in Kansas City, Kansas; Bridgeview, Illinois; Washington, D.C.; and Chester, Pennsylvania, from Oct. 15-26.
“Obviously as a coaching staff in the international arena, you are delighted when you can get a large group of players together for an extended period,” said Ellis. “It’s no secret that the battle for spots on the qualifying roster will be extremely competitive and we’re looking forward to the training environment and two tough games against a Mexico team that we will likely see again during the CONCACAF Championship.”
Twenty-nine players have represented the USA in international competition this year and 25 of them were invited to this camp along with midfielder Shannon Boxx and goalkeepers Nicole Barnhart and Alyssa Naeher, all of whom have yet to see action for the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2014.
The majority of the roster will begin training in Salt Lake City on Sept. 5 with the eight players who are playing in the NWSL Championship Game this weekend getting a few extra days off. Seattle Reign FC and FC Kansas City players will arrive on Sept. 8. Midfielder Morgan Brian, the lone non-professional on the roster, will arrive into camp on Sept. 7 after completing her weekend games with the University of Virginia.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo will likely get a shot to break the USA’s all-time shutout record in one of the matches against Mexico. She is currently tied with former U.S. great Briana Scurry at 71 career shutouts.
- Jill Ellis will name 18 players to suit up for each of the matches.
- The USA comes into the matches with an 8-2-3 record in 2014.
- Twenty-seven of the 28 players named played in the NWSL this season.
- The five U.S. strikers scored a combined 36 goals in the NWSL this season, although Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach missed significant parts of the season due to injury and Christen Press played in less than half the season’s matches after returning from Europe.
- Should Christie Rampone play in both Mexico matches, her cap total would grow to 297, meaning she would have a chance to hit 300 during the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October. Kristine Lilly is the only other player in soccer history to play 300 or more times for their country.
- Ali Krieger’s next cap will be her 50th, which would make her the 48th player in U.S. WNT history to reach 50 international appearances.
- The USA is 27-1-1 all-time against Mexico.
- Several U.S. players won NWSL postseason awards: Alyssa Naeher was the Goalkeeper of the Year, Becky Sauerbrunn was the Defender of the Year and Julie Johnston was the Rookie of the Year.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster By Position – Detailed Roster
GOALKEEPERS (4): Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (10): Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC), Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Whitney Engen (Houston Dash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Morgan Brian (Virginia), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Kristie Mewis (Boston Breakers), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (5): Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)
Series Tickets for CONCACAF Women’s Championship Games in Chicago and D.C. Available Starting Sept. 5
CHICAGO (Aug. 28, 2014) – Tickets for first-round games of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in Bridgeview, Illinois, and Washington, D.C., go on sale to the public Sept. 5 at 10 a.m. local time. The tournament will directly qualify three teams to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. Due to the expected high demand, purchases at this time are limited to series tickets only. A series ticket includes all the games played at a specific venue.
Fans can purchase series tickets for the Oct. 17-18 doubleheaders at Toyota Park near Chicago and the Oct. 20-21 twin-bills at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., starting at 10 a.m. local venue time through ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers in the host cities. [Note: Tickets will not be sold at the RFK Stadium ticket office except on the days of the event.]
Toyota Park, home to Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire, hosts four sides from Group A (including the USA) on Oct. 17 and four teams from Group B on Oct. 18. All eight teams then travel to RFK Stadium, home of D.C. United, where the Group A teams will play their final group games on Oct. 20, while Group B teams close out the first round with games on Oct. 21.
Ticket availability for the semifinals on Oct. 24 and the third-place and championship matches on Oct. 26 at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania, will be announced in the near future. The tournament opens at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, with first-round doubleheaders Oct. 15-16. Tickets for the Kansas City series go on sale to the public Aug. 29 at 10 a.m. CT (TICKETS).
The eight countries which will compete in the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship are the United States and Mexico from North America, Guatemala and Costa Rica from Central America, and Caribbean sides Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique and Trinidad & Tobago. The Final Draw to place the teams in two groups of four will take place in Miami on Sept. 5.
The tournament format will see the top two teams in each group advance to Philadelphia for the semifinals on Oct. 24, when the winner of each group will face the runner-up of the opposite group. The third-place and championship games will be held on Oct. 26.
The top three finishers – the semifinal winners and the winner of the third-place match -- will qualify directly for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup June 6-July 5 in Canada, while the fourth-place team enters a playoff with a team from South America for the final World Cup slot.
The U.S. previously hosted a Women's World Cup qualifying tournament in 2006.
Up next for the U.S. WNT is a two-game set against Mexico on Sept. 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (4:30 p.m. MT kickoff; TICKETS), followed by a Sept. 18 rematch at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester, New York (7 p.m. ET; TICKETS). The Sept. 13 game will be live on ussoccer.com and the Sept. 18 game will be live on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. Fans can follow both games on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and @ussoccer_esp.
CHICAGO (Aug. 25, 2014) – Tickets for first-round games in Kansas City for the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, the tournament that will directly qualify three teams to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, go on sale to the public Friday, Aug. 29, at 10 a.m. CT. Due to the expected high demand, purchases are limited to series tickets only. A series ticket includes all the games played at the venue.
Fans can purchase series tickets for the Oct. 15-16 games at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas, through ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers in the Kansas City area (including many Hen House Markets). [Note: Tickets will not be sold at the Sporting Park ticket office.]
Sporting Park, home to Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City, hosts doubleheader events on consecutive days. Four sides from Group A (including the USA in the featured game) open the competition Oct. 15, followed by the four Group B squads each playing their first match Oct. 16. The draw to determine the exact matchups will be held Sept. 5 in Miami.
Details regarding series tickets for the remaining three tournament venues (Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia) will be announced in the near future.
The following eight countries are competing in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship: the United States and Mexico from North America, Guatemala and Costa Rica from Central America, and four countries from the Caribbean in Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique and Trinidad & Tobago.
Three teams from the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship will directly qualify for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup from June 6-July 5 in Canada. After completing round-robin play at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois (Oct. 17-18), and at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. (Oct. 20-21), the top two teams from each group advance to Philadelphia for the semifinals on Oct. 24, followed by the third-place and championship games on Oct. 26. The tournament’s top three teams go to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, while the fourth-place team enters a playoff with a team from South America for the final World Cup slot.
The U.S. previously hosted a Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament in 2006.
Up next for the U.S. WNT is a two-game set against Mexico on Sept. 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (4:30 p.m. MT kickoff; TICKETS), followed by a Sept. 18 rematch at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, New York (7 p.m. ET; TICKETS). The Sept. 18 game will be live on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. Fans can follow both games on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and @ussoccer_esp.
U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis
Overall thoughts on the match:
“We knew Switzerland was going to be a good challenge. We played good, uptempo soccer. We got a lot of players in tonight. Some really good spurts and we’ve been focusing on a few things. We haven’t had much time together so overall I was very pleased with the effort and with the result.”
On areas of focus for this game:
“We worked a little bit, talking about our build up and I think we’ve got to get more out of our outside backs going forward. I think we have to get a little bit more connection centrally between our three. But we tried some different things tonight.”
On the new formation, specifically for Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe:
“I wanted Holiday to control the rhythm so I moved her deeper into the midfield. We took Holiday out of the ten. I wanted to see Megan in there because she’s so good running at players. Her final pass is so good. She’s got a shot and she’s dangerous in there.”
On Crystal Dunn’s contribution on the back line and playing on the left side”
“She doesn’t usually play on the left side. I was actually really pleased. Defensively, she’s coming back in. This is her first time back in with me. I actually thought she did a solid job. She’s got to get her timing of her releasing down and how to play out a little bit better. I was pleased. Pleased with her positioning overall.”
On the depth of the WNT:
“Going into our camp for World Cup Qualifiers, we’ll have 26 solid players competing for a spot. I was pleased to see different players come in tonight and start to emerge. I’m really excited about it.”
On Christie Rampone’s role:
"She’s been phenomenal. She’s been hurt, a little banged up and her confidence was a little bit low. She has leadership, the ability to control the line and still her pace, she’s kind of a freak of nature. She’s been fantastic for us. Calms the team, good leader on and off the field. I’m really excited and hope she can make this journey with us. I believe she can.
On Abby Wambach’s return from injury:
“Abby’s coming along and that’s why I think it was so important for her to get a goal tonight. She’s worked very, very hard physically and on the technical side of her game to get up to speed fairly quickly. By our next camp, I think she’ll be 100 percent.”
On Alex Morgan’s return after recovering from injury:
“Alex has found her form. She had a great game the other night. She looks really sharp. That’s why she got the start, because she’s been playing very well and she looked good in camp.”
U.S. WNT goalkeeper Hope Solo
On not breaking the shutout record:
“For me, the record is going to come when it comes. I’m not going to chase it. It’s always disappointing to get scored on if it’s a game with a record-breaking opportunity or not. Of course I’d like to get the record so I can move on and focus on other things, but it’s not the end-all-be-all for me to have it happen here in Cary or against Mexico in the next two games, or whenever it happens.”
U.S. WNT midfielder Megan Rapinoe
On her goal in the third minute:
“I think it popped out wide to Sydney and I was just filling in the top of the box. I took a quick touch and hit it. I think it took a little bit of a deflection going in, but it was on frame at least, so count it.”
On playing in a different formation:
“It is different. It is definitely different than playing the wing. The responsibilities are just different. I have the responsibility to just find the space. It puts a little bit more onus on my to find that space.”
U.S. WNT defender Crystal Dunn
On her contribution to the team:
“I did my best to try and push up when I could. I think Switzerland did a good job of shutting that space down. I think my role on this team is to get the ball and possess it and that’s what I tried to do tonight.”
On head coach Jill Ellis’ decision to move her from right back to left back:
“I’m just happy she wanted me on the field. At the end of the day, she could tell me Hope is taking a break and I’m playing keeper and I’d be happy about that. It was great to be out there regardless of what side I’m on. “
On the back line taking shape:
“It’s going to be big. I think over the past two years we’ve been switching up a lot. I think it’s important to get a set back four. That’s what I’m competing for: to try and win a spot on this team.”
U.S. WNT midfielder Carli Lloyd
On her initial thoughts of the game:
“I thought it was a good result for us. Even though it was a short trip for us, the last couple days we’ve been working on some things. I thought we really started to find the momentum. The second half was fun. We were pinging it around, having some fun, finding some space. Overall, a good result, some good goals, some good things. Obviously there are some things we can tidy up on and work on, but this is a good start for where we want to be.”
On how the team can improve going forward:
“Just having that mindset of getting into our defensive shape a little bit quicker. A little bit more diligent with that. As long as we get back into our shape, then we can take a little bit of time. As long as we’re compact, we won’t give teams a lot of time and space to play. The Swiss were a good, quality side. They had some good attacking abilities. If you give them good time and space, they’re going to ping balls around you. Overall it was a good result.”
On the new formation with Megan Rapinoe, Lauren Holiday and Abby Wambach:
“As long as we can fine tune our shape in the middle, and we started to find that in the second half, Holiday and I started to connect with Rapinoe in there and then Press and when Abby came in. We started to really find the rhythm, find the space and picking off those pockets. We’ve got to keep building off of that.”
U.S. WNT forward Christen Press
On moving forward with a new formation:
“I was higher up the field and there were more counterattacks, so that’s good. I’m just trying to find my way on this team, find my role and see what I can do to help the team win.”
On her goal to give the U.S. a 3-1 lead:
“I think the goal was a corner kick that was headed out. I got on the second ball, and it was a chest and shoulder and volley, I think before it bounced. It was one of those where you strike through the ball, a little bit on one side and it bent into the upper part of the net.”
On having the Stanford women’s soccer team in attendance:
“It’s always great to have your alma mater there. I learned so much from Stanford and I’m glad they could be at the game.”
On the atmosphere and fans:
“I think that the environment tonight was phenomenal. When Abby walked in to the locker room she said, ‘that’s how it should feel going to play a soccer game.’ We all had the chills, with the girls outside screaming and supporting us and all the tailgaters. It’s phenomenal for us to see. It’s such a motivation. We’re so, so blessed to have this support going into our World Cup Qualifiers.”
CARY, North Carolina (Aug. 20, 2014) – The U.S. Women’s National Team scored three second-half goals and earned a 4-1 victory against Switzerland in front of a sold-out crowd of 9,992 at WakeMed Soccer Park.
A well-rounded scoring effort featured goals from Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Abby Wambach. Lloyd’s 56th-minute penalty kick served as the game-winner, and Wambach’s second-half PK pushed her USA-record goal scoring total to 168.
This was the first meeting between the two countries at the senior team level. Switzerland has already qualified for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, and the USA will prepare for FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying in October in the United States.
Wednesday marked the first opportunity for goalkeeper Hope Solo to set a new shutout record (currently tied with Briana Scurry with 71 clean sheets), but a Switzerland penalty kick from Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic put that milestone on hold.
The U.S. goal total could have been far greater if not for Switzerland goalkeeper Gaëlle Thalmann. She made seven first-half saves as the USA pelted the Swiss goal with eight shots – all of them on frame.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Sydney Leroux), 3rd minute: From midfield, Rapinoe started the U.S. attack and dished to Leroux on the left side. Leroux cut to her right and played the ball back to Rapinoe about 10 yards above the box. Rapinoe fired with her left from about 22 yards out. It took a slight deflection off Switzerland’s Rahel Kiwic and squeaked inside the right side of the frame for the early lead. USA 1, SUI 0
USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty), 56th minute: Megan Rapinoe’s cross from the left side of the box hit the hand of Switzerland’s Fabienne Humm and the USA was awarded the penalty kick. Lloyd was called in for the occasion and stepped up confidently with a low right-footed shot into the left of the frame for the two-goal cushion. Switzerland goalkeeper Gaëlle Thalmann had anticipated the shot going the other direction. USA 2, SUI 0
SUI – Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic (penalty), 70th minute: In a similar fashion leading to the USA’s penalty kick, Switzerland’s Ramona Bachmann crossed from the left side and the ball struck U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe’s arm. Referee Katja Koroleva pointed to the spot, and Crnogorcevic took the PK. USA goalkeeper Hope Solo, attempting to break the U.S. WNT shutout record, leaned to her right and Crnogorcevic shot in the other direction to cut the USA’s lead to one. USA 2, SUI 1
USA – Christen Press (unassisted), 77th minute: Following a Christie Rampone free kick into the box, the ball fumbled around and Switzerland’s defense weakly cleared. From 25 yards out, Press chest-trapped the short clearance and fired a right-footed shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and over the end line as goalkeeper Thalmann could only watch. USA 3, SUI 1
USA – Abby Wambach (penalty), 87th minute: On a Carli Lloyd cross from the right, Wambach drew a foul against Switzerland second-half sub Nicole Remund, who shoved the USA striker and earned the PK. Wambach took the penalty herself, a right-footed shot that clipped off of Thalmann’s gloves and into the net for her fifth goal this year and 168th of her storied career. USA 4, SUI 1 (FINAL)
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
SUI – Gaëlle Thalmann, 20th minute: USA goalkeeper Hope Solo delivered a deep ball toward a darting Christen Press as she had a step on Switzerland’s back line. Thalmann instinctively rushed off her line and outside the box and headed the ball away before Press could converge.
SUI – Gaëlle Thalmann, 39th and 40th minutes: The busy Switzerland goalkeeper made back-to-back diving stops against the USA’s lethal attack. First, it was an Alex Morgan left-footed shot from the left side of the box that was headed toward the inside of the far right post, but Thalmann dove to her left for the save. Then, Lauren Holiday took a crack from just outside the top of the box, and again Thalmann made a diving save at the near right post.
SUI – Stenia Michel, 46th minute: In the first 12 seconds of the second half, the U.S. nearly took advantage of an errant pass in Switzerland’s half. Carli Lloyd fired from outside the box and Michel, who had just entered the game, made a swatting right-handed save on a shot that was bound for the upper right corner.
- Defender and team captain Christie Rampone made her 295th appearance as she nears the 300-cap milestone. Rampone is second all-time in WNT history to Kristine Lilly in games played. Lilly had 352 caps from 1987-2010.
- Carli Lloyd moved past Briana Scurry for 13th in career appearances with 174.
- Hope Solo tied Michelle Akers for 17th all-time in career caps with 153.
- Lloyd now has 51 goals for her career as she is ninth on the all-time goal scoring list.
Next on the Schedule:
The U.S. WNT will host two matches against Mexico, first on Sept. 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (4:30 p.m. MT), followed by a Sept. 18 match at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, New York (7 p.m. ET).
Broadcast information: Sept. 13 – TBD; Sept. 18 – ESPN2, WatchESPN
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_wnt | @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram
- The U.S. is now 8-2-3 this year.
- Hope Solo moved to 118-9-18 for her career. She is second only to Briana Scurry for all-time wins (Scurry went 133-12-14 from 1994-2008).
- Christen Press now has 13 goals in 25 international appearances.
- The USA improved to 108-2-8 when Abby Wambach scores a goal.
- Wambach has now scored at least five goals in a calendar year 11 times in her 14 years with the WNT.
- U.S. head coach Jill Ellis’ starting lineup featured a defensive corps led by Solo in goal, Crystal Dunn at left back, Ali Krieger at right back and the center back duo of Becky Sauerbrunn and team captain Christie Rampone.
- The midfield of the 4-3-3 featured Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe.
- The USA’s starting forward trio included Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan and Press.
- The U.S. rolled out three substitutions to open the second half. Wambach entered for Leroux, Meghan Klingenberg replaced Krieger and Julie Johnston got the call for Sauerbrunn.
- Heather O’Reilly replaced Morgan in the 66th minute, Morgan Brian entered for Rapinoe in the 78th minute, and Allie Long replaced Holiday in the 85th minute.
- O’Reilly, Press and Sauerbrunn have played in all 13 games this year.
- Krieger and Lloyd lead the USA with 12 starts apiece in 2014.
- Ellis is now 8-0-3 as the U.S. WNT head coach.
- Ten players on the U.S roster that trained this week in North Carolina return to National Women’s Soccer League play for the semifinal stage of the league’s second season. FC Kansas City hosts Portland Thorns FC on Saturday, Aug. 23 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN2), and Seattle Reign FC takes on the Washington Spirit on Aug. 24 (11 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
-U.S. Women’s National Team Report-
U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Switzerland
Date: Aug. 20, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park; Cary, North Carolina
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Weather: 77 degrees, cool
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 3 4
SUI 0 1 1
USA – Megan Rapinoe (Sydney Leroux) 3rd minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (penalty) 56
SUI – Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic (penalty) 71
USA – Christen Press (unassisted) 77
USA – Abby Wambach (penalty) 87
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger (25-Meghan Klingenberg, 46), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (16-Julie Johnston, 46), 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 19-Crystal Dunn; 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Lauren Holiday (6-Allie Long, 85), 15-Megan Rapinoe (7-Morgan Brian, 78); 2-Sydney Leroux (20-Abby Wambach, 46), 13-Alex Morgan (9-Heather O’Reilly, 66), 23-Christen Press
Substitutions Not Used: 18-Alyssa Naeher
Head Coach: Jill Ellis
1-Gaëlle Thalmann (12-Stenia Michel, 46); 5-Noëlle Maritz, 14-Rahel Kiwic (8-Sandy Maendly, 82), 15-Caroline Abbé (capt.); 7-Martina Moser (22-Vanessa
Bernauerk, 68), 9-Lia Wälti, 16-Fabienne Humm (2-Nicole Remund, 68), 18-Vanessa Bürki (6-Selina Kuster, 56); 10-Ramona Bachmann, 11-Lara Dickenmann,
13-Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic (19-Eseosa Aigbogun, 74)
Substitutions Not Used: 23-Fabienne Bangerter
Head coach: Martina Voss-Tecklenburg
Stats Summary: USA / SUI
Shots: 16 / 7
Shots on Goal: 15 / 1
Saves: 0 / 10
Corner Kicks: 8 / 3
Fouls: 8 / 11
Offside: 3 / 2
SUI – Rahel Kiwic (caution) 19th minute
SUI – Lia Wälti (caution) 45+1
SUI – Caroline Abbé (caution) 58
USA – Carli Lloyd (caution) 85
Referee: Katja Koroleva (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Felisha Mariscal (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Amanda Ross (USA)
Fourth Official: Christopher Spivey (USA)
Budweiser Woman of the Match: Lauren Holiday
Longtime U.S. Paralympian Josh McKinney will be recognized at halftime of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s game against Switzerland on Wednesday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina.
McKinney announced in June that he would retire from his impressive career on the U.S. Paralympic National Soccer Team. McKinney represented the USA for 19 years, scoring 81 goals in 124 games.
“It’s been an honor to wear the crest and play for the U.S. for 19 years,” McKinney said during the USA’s trip to Barcelona, Spain, for the 7-a-Side Championship. “I will always be grateful for U.S. Soccer, my coaches and teammates, all who are family to me.”
- Josh McKinney Announces Retirement
- After 19 Years, U.S. Captain Josh McKinney Calls it a Career
- McKinney Reaches 100-Cap Milestone with U.S. Paralympic Team
McKinney wore the captain’s armband starting in 2005, and he played in three Paralympic Games.
On May 6, 2012, McKinney earned his 100th cap during the USA’s match against Russia in Yevpatoriya, Ukraine.
The very first venture into big-time international soccer for U.S. Women's National Team players Becky Sauerbrunn and Amy Rodriguez turned into a bittersweet experience.
Their participation at the 2004 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship was quite sweet because of its exotic location – Thailand – and the competition opened the eyes of both teenagers to the demands of one the highest levels of international soccer.
It was bitter as well, because the Americans failed in their quest to win the championship and due to the damage and loss of life the great tsunami caused a month afterwards.
The team had discovered paradise in Phuket, Thailand.
"I loved my experience in Thailand," Rodriguez said. "It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Actually, one of my favorite countries ever. Very exotic, very beautiful. It was gorgeous. It was amazing."
The team's first two group-stage games were in Phuket. The USA stayed at a beach hotel.
"We lucked out," Sauerbrunn said. "You look out your window and you're looking straight at the ocean. The first time I walked through the lobby I was like 'Oh my God. I had never seen this.' It was beautiful. I really wasn't expecting the turnout at the games, either. The Thai people really came out. We got 10,000 people for the opening matches and for a lot of us; we had never played in front of that kind of crowd before. The country did the tournament justice."
It might have been paradise, but the tournament was work for the WNT. The U.S. won its first four matches before running into a talented German side, losing them in the semifinals, 3-1. Germany would go on to win the tournament. The USA blanked Brazil and an 18-year-old Marta in the third-place match, 3-0.
Rodriguez said not winning "was quite disappointing," which only left the players hungry for more success.
"Most definitely," she said. "My goal, my ultimate career goal at this point is to win a World Cup. I'm hoping that I have a good year this year and I can make that World Cup team and hopefully get that World Cup gold that I haven't been able to get."
The tournament turned out to be a learning experience on several levels.
"It was a gut check," Sauerbrunn said. "It was kind of an expectation that we were going to win. For a lot of girls it was the first time, like, wow, we're not used to this. This is not a good feeling. What I carried on from the U-19s is that it doesn't matter how hard you prepare, what you're doing; you show up on that day, you take care of business."
Rodriguez remembered how fast the players and teams were.
"I was shocked as a 17-year-old playing against these great players," she said. "The speed of play was much quicker. I was still in high school at the time when I was brought in with the U-19s, so I learned to play a lot of faster and how to go against tough competition."
They also learned how fragile life and paradise can be. On Dec. 26, 2004, about month after the tournament final, a tsunami wreaked havoc in 15 countries. The Phuket hotel was destroyed. More than 230,000 people were killed, including almost 5,400 in Thailand.
"I felt very fortunate to be there when I did in such beauty and such an awesome experience, but it was sad to hear that it was destroyed by a giant tsunami," Rodriguez said.
Added Sauerbrunn "It just makes you put things into perspective a little bit about soccer. For us it's a passion, but it’s not an end-all, be-all of life. We were so sad about the people that we met, the hotel staff. We were still bummed about the tournament then it was kind of like well, there way worse things that can happen to us. We should be really fortunate for everything that we had."