CHICAGO (December 27, 2007) – U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage has called 27 players to a six-day training camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., that will run from Jan. 3-8, 2008 in the USA’s first action of the new year. Sundhage will then select a 20-player roster to travel to China for the 2008 Four Nations Tournament being held from Jan. 16-20 at the Foshan Sports Center Stadium, in Foshan, China.
Canada, Finland and host China round out the field for the annual competition to be played less than seven months before Beijing hosts the 2008 Olympics. The USA opens the competition against Canada on Jan. 16 before facing Finland on Jan. 18 and China on Jan. 20. These will mark the first-ever matches under Sundhage, who was hired in late November.
This will be the ninth trip to China for the U.S. women since 1998 and serves as continuing preparation for the 2008 Olympics, for which the Americans will have to qualify from the CONCACAF Final Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament being held April 2-13 in Mexico.
“This is an exciting tournament as they will be the first games with the new coaching staff,” said Sundhage. “”We want to continue to play with passion and start our change in attacking style. We want to try to dictate the tempo of the matches in the attack and while staying true to the principles in defending. The injuries we have to some veterans will most likely give some young players a chance (during the Four Nations), and it's important to find a good mix of young inspiration with experience.”
This will be the seventh time the USA has participated in the Four Nations Tournament in China. The U.S. team also traveled to China for a pair of matches against China in 2001 when the tournament was not held. Should the USA qualify for the Olympics, this Four Nations Tournament will be the final time the team will travel to China before heading back to Beijing in August.
In January of 2007, the U.S. went to the Four Nations Tournament with a young squad as veterans Kristine Lilly, Abby Wambach, Christie Rampone and Aly Wagner were not on the roster. The USA tied full-strength teams from Germany and England before defeating China, 2-0, to win the championship.
The USA won the Four Nations Tournament in 1998, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007, failing to take top honors only in 2002. All the matches in the 2007 Four Nations Tournament will be played in Foshan, which is just south of Guangzhou in the Guangdong Province in the southeast part of the country.
Sundhage has called in 16 members of the USA’s 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team including Wambach, who was recently named 2007 U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year. Defenders Kate Markgraf and Heather Mitts, and midfielder Aly Wagner were not named to the training camp roster as they continue to rehabilitate injuries. Lilly has not yet decided if she will pursue a spot on the roster for what would be her fourth Olympic games.
The additional 11 invitees range from numerous players with extensive Youth National Team experience to players getting their first-ever call-ups to the full National Team as Sundhage continues to evaluate the player pool.
Sundhage called in seven players who recently finished their college seasons, including former University of Portland defender Stephanie Cox, a starter for the USA at the 2007 Women’s World Cup who missed the mini-camp in December, in part due to her wedding (she was formerly Stephanie Lopez).
Also called in were 2007 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year Lauren Cheney and midfielder Tina DiMartino, both from UCLA, as well as forward Amy Rodriguez from the newly minted NCAA champion University of Southern California. Rodriguez, who scored twice in the NCAA semifinal, played for the USA at the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand, and along with Cheney, DiMartino and Tobin Heath, at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia. Rodriguez has five senior team caps, but did not play for the USA in 2007.
This is the first call-up to the full National Team for DiMartino, while Cheney participated in Residency Training Camp last year and has two caps and one goal. Heath will be participating in her third full National Team training camp.
University of Virginia defender Becky Sauerbrunn, a co-captain of the U.S. squad in Thailand, gets her first call-up to the full National Team, as does midfielder Ali Krieger, who has played several years for the U.S. U-21s, but missed a year with a broken leg suffered during her junior season. She finished her college career at Penn State in 2006.
Defender Amy LePeilbet, who has 23 caps for the USA, returns to the squad for the first time since recovering from ACL surgery which knocked her out of competition all of last year.
The USA played Canada just once in 2007, a 6-2 victory in Frisco, Texas, but has faced their northern neighbor a total of 39 times, the second most of any team in the world behind Norway. The USA is 33-3-3 all-time against Canada. The USA played Finland twice last year, battling to a 1-0 win at the Algarve Cup and a 4-0 win in the final match before leaving for the 2007 Women’s World Cup. The USA is 12-0-0 all-time vs. the Finns.
The USA played China three times in 2007, the first two in back-to-back games that finished the Four Nations Tournament in late January (2-0 win) and started the Algarve Cup in March (2-1 win). The USA also played China in June on the road to the Women’s World Cup, a 2-0 win in Cleveland, Ohio, over a Chinese team on which Sundhage served as an assistant coach. The USA is 19-8-11 all-time against the Chinese. Since 2000, the USA has gone 3-2-2 against China in China, always a difficult game for a visiting team.
“It will be good to be back to China and once more feel that environment,” said Sundhage. “It will be a unique feeling and I'm happy that I’m getting the chance to experience that. It will be great to see the Chinese players and people I worked with when I was over there.”
2008 Four Nations Tournament Schedule
Date Match-Up City
Jan. 16 USA vs. Canada Foshan, China
Jan. 16 China vs. Finland Foshan, China
Jan. 18 Finland vs. USA Foshan, China
Jan. 18 China vs. Canada Foshan, China
Jan. 20 Canada vs. Finland Foshan, China
Jan. 20 USA vs. China Foshan, China
GOALKEEPERS (3): Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.), Briana Scurry (Dayton, Minn.), Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.);
DEFENDERS (8): Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.), Marian Dalmy (Lakewood, Colo.), Keeley Dowling (Carmel, Ind.), Amy LePeilbet (Crystal Lake, Ill.), Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.), Becky Sauerbrunn (St. Louis, Mo.), India Trotter (Plantation, Fla.), Cat Whitehill (Birmingham, Ala.);
MIDFIELDERS (10): Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), Tina DiMartino (Massapequa Park, N.Y.), Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.), Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.), Ali Krieger (Dumfries, Va.), Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), Joanna Lohman (Silver Spring, Md.), Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wis.), Angie Woznuk (El Cajon, Calif.);
FORWARDS (6): Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.), Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii), Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.), Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.).
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage Stockholm, Sweden
Asst. Coach: Mark Krikorian Tallahassee, Florida
Asst. Coach: Erica Walsh State College, Pa.
GK Coach: Phil Wheddon Monroe, Conn.
General Manager: Cheryl Bailey Redondo Beach, Calif.
Medical Trainer: Gigi Garcia Miami, Florida
Medical Trainer: Greg Banks Charleston, S.C.
Massage Therapist: Jenny Pishko Chicago, Ill.
Massage Therapist: Mark Higgins Chicago, Ill
Equipment Manager: Silvestre Lara Kansas City, Mo.
Press Officer: Aaron Heifetz Cypress, Calif.
Team Security: Mark Pharris Atlanta, Ga.