Saturday, September 22, 2007

Lopez: Tougher Than Wambach?

Stephanie Lopez got a boot (or maybe an elbow?) to the head from England’s Jill Scott, but for all those friends and family back in Sacramento and Portland, she’s ok. The team’s crack medical staff stapled (yes, stapled) her up quickly on the bench and she wasn’t even out of the match for two minutes. Excellent work by team doctor Scott Powell and athletic trainers Gigi Garcia and Michele Gould. Just so you know, it was not a Red Swingline that they used to patch up Lopez, it was the medical sort used in emergency rooms. Lopez said she could feel the crunching of the staples going into her head. Ugh. Can you imagine that sound? We hope not. Abby Wambach, who got 11 stitches after the North Korea game for a much deeper gash, expressed admiration for the defender’s grit as they are now a part of the head wound club at the Women’s World Cup. Lopez, who was sent off the field by the referee momentarily later in the game to have blood wiped off her head, got the staples taken out after the game and had three stitches put in. Lopez was quick to give credit to Lindsay Tarpley for helping her endure the head stapling, holding Lopez’s hand on the bench and reassuring her through the…ker-chunk, ker-chunk, ker-chunk, ker-chunk, ker-chunk.

Great Win

The team played its most complete game yet, Abby scored in her 100th cap, it was an absolutely gorgeous evening in Tianjin and the USA is through to the semifinals. Yes, tonight was a good night. When the team returned to the hotel, it got a standing ovation from friends and family in the lobby. You always love that moment. They are a rowdy bunch. England also got a loud ovation, complete with singing, from their fans in the lobby. And heck, they deserved it. A great effort from the English who enjoyed their best Women’s World Cup ever. You have to believe that the days of England advancing to the knock out stages of Women’s World Cups are just beginning. Did you know you could bet on this game in London? The bookmakers had odds for the USA at 4-7 and for England at 4-1. Seems like those guys know their women’s football.

Happy Birthday Tarp!

By the way, today was Lindsay Tarpley’s 24th birthday. Happy Birthday to the pride of Kalamazoo, Michigan!

Seriously, An Accident

Pretty amazing thing happened in the mixed zone after the game. Apparently a few English players accused Abby Wambach of intentionally elbowing Faye White in the nose. The English media picked up on it, especially the BBC, and grilled Wambach and other players about it. Anyone who saw the incident on replay saw that Wambach was in the process of spinning around White and caught her totally by accident. Wambach was not even looking at White when elbow met nose. The referee didn’t call a foul nor did she give a yellow card. Wambach tried to apologize when White returned to the match. Understandably, White was a bit miffed on the field, but did the English trainer have to swear at Abby as well? Wambach handled herself very well during the interviews, and truth be told, White is a classy player and person. But seriously folks, it was an accident. Abby apologized. Then the reporter said that several English players saw Abby “low-five” with Kristine Lilly after the incident, as if she was congratulating her for decking the England captain, which of course, did not happen. Now we know the true meaning of “tabloid journalism.”

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bingo Night: Part II

The U.S. team is loose and relaxed in advance of its quarterfinal against England tomorrow, and what better way to take your mind off things than a friendly game of Bingo? The team had played Bingo in Shanghai, but the stakes were upped this time as general manager Cheryl Bailey purchased some nifty prizes. Cat Whitehill took top honors, winning an iPod Shuffle as well as a t-shirt that read, “I love Football,” which of course fits her perfectly as she loves soccer and American football. In China, it means one thing, in Alabama it means another. Leslie Osborne also won a game, taking home a knock-off purse that looked like a big pearl. She called it “pretty cute.” Marian Dalmy and Christie Pearce also won a game each. They got t-shirts. The team had its usual pre-game meeting after dinner and then settled down for a quiet evening.

Brazil and Aussies Arrive

New Zealand and China left the hotel today, but in their place arrived Brazil and Australia, who will play a quarterfinal in Tianjin on Sept. 23. The Aussies were in high spirits after tying Canada on a last minute goal to earn a place in the quarters (the first time they have advance to the second round) and surely they will be up for the challenge of facing the powerful Brazilians. Heck, Australians are usually up for any challenge.

Perfect Weather

Finally, some weather like California…well, except a little smoggier. But after enduring almost daily rain, mist, and yes, a typhoon, the USA’s first full day in Tianjin saw gorgeous sunshine, a light breeze and relatively blue skies. Don’t get us wrong, it was hot. But it was a dry heat, not so muggy, and the players are looking forward to a perfect night for soccer tomorrow when it should be in the mid-60s for the 8 p.m. kickoff.

Punch Pals

If you saw the video earlier in the year on’s all_access video, you know that Carli Lloyd and Marci Jobson are BFF. They have a funny way of showing it, though, as in China they have been hauling off and punching each other in the arm, pretty hard, too. Amazing thing, says Carli, is that she hasn’t bruised at all whereas Marci bruises really easily. “Her skin is just not that tough,” said Lloyd of her buddy. Of course, those who’ve seen Marci play know that her skin might be the only part of her that’s not tough.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Final Eight Set

After returning back from training, the U.S. players saw the end of a heartbreaking tie for the Canadians that knocked them out of the tournament. The players were a few minutes late for dinner as they watched Christine Sinclair score an apparent winning goal in the 85th minute, only to be negated by a Cheryl Salisbury strike two minutes into stoppage time. Australia needed just a tie to advance, while Canada needed to win, and for team captain Salisbury, perhaps the greatest player in Australian history, the goal was a fitting capper to her international career. Oh yeah, as a reward for its dramatics, Australia gets Brazil in the quarters. Brazil managed just a 1-0 win over Denmark, but peppered the Danish goal throughout the match. Most of the U.S. players also got a chance to watch the China game, which was kept close by some great work from NZ goalkeeper Jenny Bindon, but you had to admire the pluck of the Kiwis. They battled to the end against China despite being eliminated from advancement after the second game.

Four Teams, One Hotel

The USA, England, China and New Zealand are all staying at the same hotel in Tianjin, which you think would make for some lobby stare downs, but not really. The USA and England are very cordial as many of the players know each other, or of each other, as several England players have played in the USA, including star Kelly Smith. The Chinese were basically incognito today preparing for their match tonight and well, how can you not like the Kiwis? Speaking of New Zealand, they put on an absolutely inspiring performance against China in front of almost 60,000 fans and lost just 2-0. Although they lost all three games, they should return to New Zealand with heads held high. After returning from the game, China got a standing ovation from the hotel staff, and everyone in the lobby, including some New Zealand fans. Amazingly (or maybe not so much), the small contingent of New Zealand fans made even more noise when their team arrived back. Next stop for NZ, Auckland. Next stop for China, Wuhan, and a quarterfinal match-up with Group C champion Norway, which trounced hapless Ghana 7-2 tonight.

To Tianjin

The U.S. team traveled from Shanghai north to Tianjin this morning, an easy two-hour flight from a city of 14 million to a city of just 10 million. The team arrived in mid-day, had lunch and went to training, which was fairly light, but sharp. The team’s travel to this venue that will host its quarterfinal against England was delayed a day due to Typhoon Wipha, but today there was no inclement weather at all and the flight to sunny Tianjin went smoothly. Tianjin seems especially stoked for the Women’s World Cup, with tournament signage everywhere, and prior to tonight, the venue had hosted just one match so far, meaning the fans are thirsting for some more games. Tianjin played host to a sell-out crowd of 55,832 tonight that watched China advance to the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over New Zealand.

Adora the Great!

It’s amazing we’ve gotten this far in the Women’s World Cup without thanking our wonderful team liaison / interpreter Adora Wong, WNT Blog style. Seriously, she is awesome. Not only does she speak almost perfect English (with a tint of a British accent), but the English major (who will soon enter grad school) has been a massive help to team general manager Cheryl Bailey and the entire squad in too many ways to count. She’s extremely organized, conscientious, diligent, diplomatic, humorous, and has a firm grasp on the intricacies of the Chinese culture as compared to Americans…and she’s never even been to the United States! In short, we wish she could be our liaison every time we come to China. Thanks Adora!

Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium

With no teams allowed to train on the game pitch once again, the U.S. team had a brief walk-through of the stadium today before practice, and if we thought the Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium was nice, this one is absolutely spectacular. Built for the 2008 Olympics, the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium is practically brand new, having hosted just two competitive matches so far, both in the Women’s Word Cup. Holding almost 60,000, the state-of-the-art stadium is truly fantastic and something the people of Tianjin can be very proud of. It will certainly be a fitting venue for the USA-England clash.

Canine Teammate

While leaving the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium, the U.S. players befriend one of the German shepherds being used for security. If we understood the name of the dog from his handler (which we probably didn’t), his name was “Barker” which seems appropriate. Although he was thirsty, and Abby Wambach, being the animal lover that she is, indulged the dog with some refreshing water.

That's Just My Boot Bag

The USA’s training site at Tianjin Sports School is excellent. Great field, close to the hotel, and easy to control access. And before we go any further, we must say that the security around the U.S. team has been phenomenal from the moment the USA arrived in China, but today’s training was a bit overboard. Each player and staff had to walk through a metal detector (a la airport security) before entering the pitch. There were armed SWAT team guys surrounded the field looking out, away from the field, at the surrounding buildings the whole time. No doubt the local organizing committee is training for the 2008 Olympics, as Tianjin will host soccer matches for both men and women, but as far as we know, cherubic Lori Chalupny (or any of her teammates) are not a threat to the security of their own team, and probably should be let on the field without passing their a metal detector.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It’s a “Barnie”

Many of the players have hidden talents (although we’re not quite sure what they are, ‘cause they’re hidden), but goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart apparently has some artistic talent. The studio art (and psychology) major at Stanford has been spending some time sketching to pass the time in China and agreed to share one of her works with us. It’s not currently for sale, but any offers will be closely considered by Nicole. It’s a sketch of Jinli Street in Chengdu, an ancient Chinese street that was re-gentrified in 2004 and featured on the Sept. 13 of "Studio 90: China '07".

Typhoon Watch

Fortunately, the "super typhoon" that was forecasted to hit Shanghai never really did. Oh, there was rain and high winds, but the brunt of the storm hit about 240 miles to the south and wreaked havoc to the tune of $400 million in damage and major flooding. Typhoon Wipha was the most devastating typhoon to hit China in a decade and 40,000 fishing boats were forced into the harbour or out to sea. There were two million people evacuated from coastal areas, the biggest evacuation since the Communist Revolution in 1949. As of this posting, it was still raining a bit in Shanghai, but the typhoon was downgraded to a tropical storm and the USA should have no problems (knock on wood) with travel tomorrow to Tianjin, which is just a two-hour flight north.

Reserves go to Gym

The players who didn't play against Nigeria (or who just played a few minutes) went to the gym in the late morning, getting in a great hour workout that included some cardio and some ball work inside a small racquetball court. The gym was in a high end mall and you would be hard-pressed to find a nicer one in Shanghai. After finishing the work out, the players did what most people do after leaving the gym following a sweaty workout - they went to Haagen-Dazs (which was also in the mall),courtesy of assistant coach Bret Hall. We heard the sorbets and the butter pecan were quite tasty.

Sparkling Stadium

We have to say, despite the rainy conditions last night against Nigeria, the Shanghai Hongkou Stadium is awesome. Did we mention that the entire outside of the stadium lights up at night? Pretty cool. Once they get the field back in shape, it will be a stadium definitely worth of a Women's World Cup final, due to its sight lines, infrastructure and amenities. Kudos to the grounds crew as they really did a great job of getting the field in playable shape despite the rain. The pitch had little impact on the match, although the rain certainly did.

One More Day in Shanghai

Due to the inclement weather brought by Typhoon Wipha, the U.S. team stayed in Shanghai and extra day and will travel to Tianjin tomorrow to prepare for the quarterfinal match against England. The day of rest may turn out tobe a boon for the USA, who got to sleep in after the 8 p.m. match the night before, and enjoy a relaxing day in Shanghai before hopping the short flight north tomorrow. Almost the entire team went out to dinner with friends and family tonight, most at a local American pub. We heard the food is pretty good.

Day Off for WNT Blog

The WNT Blog sort of took the day off yesterday. Not too much goes on during a game day anyway, and after getting back from the game late, and getting all the quotes and game story up on, it was just to late for any posts. The WNT Blog will do its best to keep up in the future.

Game Changes

After moving games yesterday due to weather, FIFA moved more games today, which means all the remaining group matches will be played tomorrow, Sept. 20. Australia-Canada now will be played at 5 p.m. inChengdu and China-New Zealand will be played at 8 p.m. in Tianjin. Asannounced yesterday, Norway-Ghana will be played at 5 p.m. in Hangzhou,followed by Brazil-Denmark at 8 p.m. The best thing about the changes,it means all the matches within the particular groups will be playedsimultaneously, which is only fair.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stormy Schedule

It’s official: Typhoon Wipha is messing with the WWC schedule. FIFA has amended the match schedule due to weather (we’re pretty sure that’s unprecedented), moving two matches that were to take place on Sept. 19 (Australia-Canada and Norway-Ghana) to Sept. 20. The USA’s Group B match tonight at 8 p.m. local in Shanghai and the Sweden-North Korea 8 p.m. match in Tianjin were not changed, but the amendments to the schedule means two matches will be played on Thursday, Sept. 20 instead of Wednesday., giving one less rest day to some of the teams in Groups C and D before their quarterfinal matches on Sept. 23.

More details are on's news release on this subject.

Typhoon Time

So ... it’s raining in Shanghai. Hard. The beginning of Typhoon Wipha has hit and it’s been rainy steadily since the U.S. players got up this morning. It’s dark, dank and wet outside for sure. The rain has been hard at times, lighter at others, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon, meaning the USA Nigeria game will be played in conditions never seen before in a U.S. Women’s World Cup match, and probably in any match. For a report on the weather, and other WNT news, check out Studio 90 News on, but before you do that, grab a raincoat, as it could be a wet one.

P.S.: The TV signal keeps going out in the hotel rooms. This is a bad storm.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Typhoon Wipha, Uh-Oh

Checking the weather report, there is a 100% chance of rain in the afternoon tomorrow in Shangahi. The evening? Yeah, 100% chance of rain. The 13th typhoon of the season – Typhoon Wipha -- is set to hit Shanghai tomorrow at some point. We’re talking massive rain, high winds, drops in temperature and all sorts of Mother Nature’s mischief that is sure to impact the USA’s match against Nigeria in any number of ways. The field is already pretty chopped up at the Shanghai Hongkou Stadium and the work that those poor fans were doing, drying out the field when the USA did its walkthrough the other day, may have been moot. Note to the USA Equipment Managers: get out the rain gear.

Kudos to Japan

Hats off to Japan. While they are going home after a 2-0 loss to Germany in their final Group A match, they pulled off two dramatic ties with stoppage time goals and then held the powerful Germans to two goals off set plays, including a late penalty kick. Meanwhile, England was stomping on the poor Argentines, 6-1, as star Kelly Smith scored twice and England got two penalty kicks. Germany wins Group A and will play the second place team in Group B. England finishes second in Group A and will play the Group B winner. If the USA goes through to the quarterfinals after tomorrow’s game vs. Nigeria, either one of the opponents will make for one of the best second round matches of the tournament.

Italian Food

The U.S. team went “out” tonight for a special Italian dinner. Ok, they actually walked about 40 yards from their regular meal room to the Italian restaurant in the team hotel, but at least it was a bit of a change of venue and menu and its nice to be able to hop in the elevator and be in your room in 60 seconds when the food comma hits from too much pasta. The WNT Blog says the fished looked pretty good as well.

Studio 90: Cat Time

The Studio 90: China ’07 crew also filed a segment with Cat Whitehill that featured the show’s first-ever studio audience. It wasn’t large, but it was vocal. Keep checking back for the Cat’s interview and her pursuit of perfection on the always popular Back Four Quiz.

Studio 90: Wisconsin ‘07

Did you know that U.S. midfielder Leslie Osborne is from Wisconsin, Studio 90 host Neil Buethe is from Wisconsin, team general manager Cheryl Bailey worked at the University of Wisconsin for years as an associate A.D., U.S. head coach Greg Ryan coached the Badgers women’s soccer team for years, U.S. defender Kate Markgraf currently lives in Wisconsin and forward Lindsay Tarpley was born in Wisconsin? Well, Neil Buethe certainly knew that (we sort of couldn’t get him to shut up about it) and it was one of the points he touched on while talking to Leslie in the latest edition of Studio 90: China ’07. Go to to also hear the U.S. players talk about the Nigeria game as well as see a special feature on the USA’s Hawaiian striker Natasha Kai.

Talking Nigeria

You could tell by listening to the player interviews in the last few days that there is great respect for Nigeria. It is certainly warranted. Even though they have not won a game, the Super Falcons are having arguably their best-ever Women’s World Cup run besides 1999 when they won two group games and made the quarterfinals, only to fall to Brazil 4-3 in overtime. You have to understand, they didn’t score a goal in 1991, scored five in 1995, but could only get one point from a tie with Canada, and then in 2003, crashed out without scoring a goal again. In 2007, they have competed pretty well with two of the best teams in world and you know they are relishing another shot at the USA. The media following the U.S. team got the chance to speak with defender Tina Ellertson today. Tina hasn’t played in the tournament yet, but she’s got a very unique story in that her mom was born in Nigeria, her dad was born in Ghana, and the African culture is still very much entrenched in her family. Please note that Tina grew up in Washington state and bleeds red, white and blue (not Nigerian’s color of green, which would be weird anyway, she’s not a Vulcan), but the match will hold a special place in her heart, something she knew the day the draw was announced and the Super Falcons were paired with the USA.

Rylie Hamm

Apparently, Rylie Rampone, the two-year-old daughter of Christie Rampone is causing quite a stir in China. In fact, the attention she gets when she goes out for walks with her mom and dad, or at the stadiums to “watch” the games, has been so intense that her dad Chris has said she’s not only more popular than her mom, but “more popular than Mia Hamm.” The frenzy has been remarkable. I mean, we are talking a super cute kid here, but we think it’s just that the Chinese don’t see many adorable little blond baby girls with curly hair, chubby cheeks and a penchant for posing for pictures. We are not kidding you when we say she gets mobbed for pictures on the streets at the level that the Chinese media has been following Kristine Lilly. It’s getting so bad that Rylie, who was oft-photographed at the Sweden game to the point it was interrupting her dad watching the match, might need her own security detail. Either that, or a modeling contract for Chinese baby products.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Friends and Family Reception

The U.S. Friends and Family who are in China had a reception tonight at the U.S. team hotel, and while not all the parents are here yet, it was an enjoyable affair as the players and their loves ones spent about two hours hanging out in a beautifully decorated ballroom. Highlights of the evening included a few songs from Natasha Kai’s father Benny, a professional singer back in Hawaii who certainly has some golden pipes, as well as dance routine from the group of players who have been taking Hip-Hop 101 from Natasha herself. (If you saw the all_access video from the shopping excursion to Jinli Road, you got a sneak peak). Both performances finished to loud applause and it was a nice break for the players before they buckle down to focus on the Nigeria match.

Walk-through at Hongkou

While not allowed to train on the field, the U.S. got a brief walkthrough today on the game field, taking a boisterous 20 minute bus ride to the Shanghai Hongkong Football Stadium. Most of the time on the field was spent taking pictures, as they players didn’t seem too concerned with the choppy pitch that got pretty torn up during the first four matches. During the USA’s walk-through, there were about 30 fans circling the field in an attempt to dry it out. But besides the field, the stadium is spectacular. It is the smallest of the five venues, holding just 34,000, but unlike all the other stadiums, this one doesn’t have a track around it, meaning the fans are right on top of the action. The aesthetics and set-up of the stadium are also fantastic and the atmosphere should be rocking for the Nigeria game. Against North Korea, most of the fans were rooting for the Koreans. Against Sweden, the crowd seemed to be pretty split down the middle, but against Nigeria, with so many Americans living in Shanghai, hopefully the crowd will be pro-USA for this critical Group B match-up.

It’s Bumpy

Due to the condition of the field at the Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium, the U.S. team (like all the countries that have played there) were not allowed a pre-game practice on the game pitch. Shanghai was just hit with too much rain at the wrong times and the field endured four matches in five days. As a result, it’s just not in very good shape. It’s bumpy, choppy and sandy, so much so that after the final two Group B matches on Tuesday, Women’s World Cup organizers will replace the entire playing surface in preparation for the 3rd Place Match and Final on Sept. 30. But hey, both teams have to play on it and hopefully with another’s day of work, it will be in more playable shape for the USA-Nigeria game.

Cat on ESPN

Cat Whitehill chatted twice with ESPN announcers Mike Patrick and Todd Blackledge during Arkansas-Alabama football game this morning as she watched the game on her Slingbox from China. Whitehill, as most who follow this team know, is a monster college football fan (especially the SEC). She was also filmed watching the game on her lap top for an upcoming ESPN feature as Alabama scored a last second winning touchdown. One of Cat’s other favorite teams, the Florida Gators, won handily, making for a happy morning for the Alabama native who is managing to keep up with the season through her Slingbox, where she can see games and also highlights on SportsCenter and College Game Day. (Her other favorite team, Georgia, won later in the day). Alas, Auburn lost, and her sister Jenny, a War Eagle alum, had to get the bad news after arriving in China this afternoon.

Postcard from China: Lindsay Tarpley

Every so often during the Women’s World Cup, a U.S. Women’s National Team player will write an e-postcard, filling in the fans back home on the happenings of the team, off the field activities, and anything else on their mind. Today, soon-to-be 24-year-old Lindsay Tarpley checks in from Shanghai, China, after playing in her first-ever Women’s World Cup match against Sweden, and shares her thoughts on getting around one of the biggest cities in the world, her first Women’s World Cup and her memorable restaurant faux pau.

Click here to view today's postcard.