U.S. WOMEN FACE FIRST LEG CHALLENGE IN ITALY:
The U.S. Womenâ€™s National Team faces Italy on Nov. 20 at Stadio Euganeo in Padova, Italy, in the crucial first leg of the two-game series that will determine the final berth to the 2011 FIFA Womenâ€™s World Cup. Fans can watch the match live on ESPN3.com at 10:30 a.m. ET or follow along on ussoccer.comâ€™s MatchTracker our at twitter.com/ussoccer_wnt. The weather has been chilly and rainy so far during the USAâ€™s stay in northern Italy and rain is possible on game day as well. Stadio Euganeo seats about 18,000 for soccer and is the home to Calcio Padova of the Italian â€œSerie B.â€ The USA is scheduled for one training on the game pitch on Friday morning. U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage brought 24 players to Italy, but will suit up 18 on game day.
CONFERENCE CALLING: U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage, team captain Christie Rampone and forward Abby Wambach spoke to the media via a conference call on Thursday, Nov. 18.
U.S. Captain CHRISTIE RAMPONE
On Saturdayâ€™s game and the series with Italy:
"We are really excited right now for this second opportunity to qualify. Weâ€™re heading into our first game of two, and it is going to take two games to get through this qualifying match. The team is training well. Weâ€™re really excited. We think we have good momentum going with the way the team is looking and weâ€™re looking forward to the first game and then getting back to the U.S."
U.S. Forward ABBY WAMBACH
On going into the series against Italy:
"I think the thing weâ€™ve been focusing a lot of our attention on is that itâ€™s an opportunity for us. In the World Cup, when you lose you donâ€™t get another chance. Weâ€™re very grateful and thankful for this second chance and we donâ€™t want to throw it away. We want to look at it in the right way. Itâ€™s going to teach us a lot of lessons. Hopefully we can get the bugs out so that if we do qualify, we can be successful in 2011. The state of the team is great. Weâ€™re really positive, upbeat and excited to match up against Italy in these two games."
AÂ complete transcript is available at ussoccer.com.
STUDIO 90 FROM ITALIA: Preview Saturdayâ€™s match and check out additional video features from Italy as ussoccer.comâ€™s Studio 90 is along for the ride providing updates and features from the U.S. WNT as it prepares for the first leg of the series. Visit the Media Center at ussoccer.com to watch.
RETURN LEG AND SERIES RULES: Both teams will travel the day after the match to Chicago where the second leg of the series will be held on Nov. 27 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. The match will kick off at 1 p.m. CT and also be shown live on ESPN3.com. The winner of the series will be determined on total goals scored over the two matches. If the teams are tied on goals at the end of the two games, goals scored in the away match will count as double to determine the winner. If the teams are tied on goals and have both scored the same amount of away goals, or neither team has scored over the 180 minutes, two 15-minute overtime periods will be played. If that still doesnâ€™t determine a winner, then penalty kicks will decide the series.
TICKETS IN CHICAGOLAND: Tickets for USA vs. Italy at Toyota Park start at $10 and are on sale through