This is likely the final WNT Blog post of 2008. No tears, please. All good things must come to an end you know, and for now, so too must the WNT Blog. At least for the remainder of this year. We'll be back in late January when the U.S. women reconvene for a training camp, but for now it's time to focus on family and loved ones during the holidays and reflect warmly on all the great things that happened this year, on the field and off. So to all you WNT fans out there, thanks for the great support and we'll see you in 2009. Porky says Peace Out.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Kudos also to the more than 11,000 fans who showed up on a freezing Wednesday night at Ford Field to watch the final match of the year for the U.S. women. Of course, it was 70 degrees inside Ford Field, but the fans had to drive through the snow and sludge to get there. It was a great way to end an historic year, not only with a victory - the USA's 25th shutout of the year -- but with a big and appreciative crowd. The team wishes it could have put a few more in the net, but once again great defense by the USA earned the victory. So thanks to all those who came out to make the 2008 finale a fun one and hopefully it won't be another 15 years before the WNT gets back to Detroit.
Posted at 3:06 PM
Kudos to Heather O'Reilly for scoring her 10th goal of the year last night against China, which along with her 10 assists, make her just the sixth player in U.S. history to score double-figures in goals and assists in a calendar year. The others? Well, you've probably heard of Mia Hamm, who did it five times. Carin Gabarra, the MVP of the 1991 WWC did it once, as did Shannon MacMillan and Tiffeny Milbrett. Abby Wambach has done it twice, including this year, when she scored 13 goals with 10 assists before breaking her leg.
Posted at 2:22 PM
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
About 3-4 inches are expected to fall tonight which of course won't impact the match against China tomorrow as it's being played indoors and according to locals, won't impact the locals too much either, who apparently treat 3-4 inches of snow as a Californian would treat one inch of rain.
The team went out to dinner at a restaurant that was a short distance from the hotel, but it was a snowy walk through a winter wonderland that everyone seemed to enjoy, including Christie Rampone who crafted some snowballs (above), and her daughter Rylie, who seemed to rejoice in throwing mini-snowballs at Rampone's teammates, and her mom.
Posted at 7:05 PM
It will be a special match tomorrow night for two U.S. players who will be playing in their home state for the first time with the U.S. Women's National Team. Both Kate Markgraf (formerly Kate Sobrero when she attended Detroit Country Day) and Lindsay Tarpley endured some cold winters of training during their formative years to get to the National Team so it seems only appropriate that they will get to play indoors at Ford Field where the weather will be a balmy 70 degrees! The Michiganders have certainly left their mark on the National Team, with both players' bios chocked full of accomplishments that have secured their spots in U.S. WNT history and both have surely made the soccer community in Michigan very proud. Markgraf will have a least 35 friends/family at the match. Tarpley, who hails from Kalamazoo, where she attended Portage Central High School and as a senior was named Michigan’s Miss Soccer and the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, should have a large group coming down from K-Zoo, depending on how much snow falls tonight, that is. I think now is the time to say, "Can we get a Region II shout out please?" "Region II!"
Posted at 2:55 PM
Posted at 2:38 PM
The U.S. team ran through its final training of 2008 today at Ford Field, spending just over an hour shaking out the legs and getting used to the fast pace of the artificial surface. It will be the USA's fourth match of the year on the fake stuff. In what has been a fantastic year for the entire U.S. Women's National Team programs, with the gold medal at the Olympics, the championship at the U-20 Women's World Cup and the second place finish at the U-17 WWC, U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage had one of the lightest pre-game trainings of what has been a challenging 2008 schedule that has taken the USA to six countries and 11 different states. In a meeting after lunch, Sundhage made a point of thanking her players and her staff for the wonderful year and fantastic journey that will continue in 2009 as she has signed a four-year deal to stay on as head coach of the WNT.
Posted at 2:15 PM
Monday, December 15, 2008
In case you didn't see, ussoccer.com announced the first four 2008 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards today and the 'ole WNT Blog picked up a bronze. That's right, for the second year in a row, the WNT Blog finished third behind Soccer By Ives and Soccer Insider (Steve Goff's always entertaining Blog for the Washington Post). Last year Goff edged Ives, but this year Ives flipped Goff. Still, coming on strong with 14% of the vote was the WNT Blog, which apparently did win the electoral college, but not the popular vote. (We're big in California, Texas and Florida). But we digress (as we are known to do on the WNT Blog). Thanks VERY MUCH to all the fans who read the blog and who voted for us this year, because as we all know, blogin' ain't easy. The WNT Blog will take much-needed break after this match vs. China on Wednesday, but will be back in late January as the U.S. team regroups to begin its 2009 schedule.
Posted at 8:50 PM
After a nice Sunday off in Los Angeles, the U.S. team left a rainy Southern California this morning for the flight to chilly Detroit. The flight was delayed as someone found some water under a seat and in order to make sure the problem was fixed, they had to "pressurize" the cabin, meaning that everyone who was already on the plane (about 75% maybe?) had to de-plane. They got the problem fixed, re-boarded and the flight was smooth with the team landing in Detroit at about 6:40 p.m. Temperatures have dipped into the teens tonight and a high of 26 degrees is forecast for tomorrow. That's right, a high of 26. Thank goodness for domed stadiums, as the USA will train at Ford Field tomorrow for its one practice in Detroit before taking on China there on Wednesday night. Fans can follow the final U.S. WNT match of 2008 on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker. The U.S. team is staying at a wonderful hotel here in suburban Detroit that features a very "Christmas-y" fireplace in the lobby. If you are anywhere cold, just stare at this pic for a while. It should warm you up.
Posted at 8:36 PM
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The U.S. WNT spent Sunday in Los Angeles after defeating China on Saturday night, and will leave for Detroit on Monday morning to prepare for the match against China at Ford Field on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. ET. It will be the last game of the year for the USA and (thankfully) the first game indoors. It's in the 20s and 30s in Detroit, but of course Ford Field is one of them fancy new domed stadiums. The temps in Michigan represent at least a 20-30 degree drop from "winter" in California, but since the only time the team will have to be outside is going from the airport to the hotel, or the hotel to training and the game (as well as shopping, movies, Starbucks runs, etc.), the WNT players should be fine. The cold will bring back fond memories for Michigan natives Lindsay Tarpley and Kate Markgraf, who grew up in the state playing their youth soccer in chilly temps for part of the year. Tarpley said she has trained in the snow many, many times. Fortunately, she won't have to do that this week. The USA is hoping for a victory in front of the win-starved Detroit fans who haven't seen a "football" victory yet this season.
Posted at 11:39 PM
After countless practices at The Home Depot Center in which the U.S. WNT players have seen the Goodyear Blimp float overhead, a few players finally got a blimp-eye view of what the HDC looks like instead of vice-versa. The west coast blimp, the Spirit of America, is based just minutes from the HDC, right around the corner in fact, and the PR folks at Goodyear invited the Olympic gold medallists to take a ride (it's invitation only and not so easy to get one), but because there are only six passenger seats and the team's schedule was packed this week, just six players got the honor. Shannon Boxx, a Torrance, Calif., native was one who took a ride and she got to see her house and her high school. The players also got to cruise over the Pacific Ocean as well. The verdict? If you ever get the chance to take a blimp ride, do it.
Posted at 11:30 PM
It was a pretty entertaining match between the USA and China on Saturday night at The Home Depot Center, with some good soccer played by both teams. Highlights of the match included Amy Rodriguez' play as a second half sub -- she set up the winning goal with a powerful dribbling run that showed why she could be an impact player for the USA for years to come -- as well as a first international goal from Tina Ellertson. The goal came in her 33rd cap and first start for the USA at forward, her college position at the University of Washington where she was a two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year. After sliding to knock the ball into the net, Ellertson rolled on her back and did a celebration shimmy on the ground that she described as "a dead worm." It was a great moment for Tina and the team as it's always fun when someone gets their first-ever goal, especially when it's a defender and especially when it's a game-winner. You may recall Kate Markgraf's first goal on a penalty kick against Ireland on Sept. 20. That came in Markgraf's 193rd cap, but of course she's never had the opportunity to play forward. Hmmmm? With the last game of the year in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan coming up? Could Pia Sundhage throw Markgraf up top to display her striker skills? Ok, not gonna happen. She's already got her first goal anyway.
Posted at 11:08 PM
Saturday, December 13, 2008
If you've been following the U.S. WNT for a while now and you think that the team seems to have played a lot of matches against China, you'd be correct. Only Norway and Canada have played the USA more times than China, which will play its 13th and 14th all-time matches inside the United States on this final leg of the Achieve Your Gold Tour. The USA has played 12 matches against China in China and the rest have been at neutral sites like the Algarve Cup or other tournaments around the world. China has dropped from its world power status of the late 1990s, but still always outs out a talented side. The USA has won six straight games against China and eight of the last nine matches with one draw. The last time the USA lost to an Asian team was in January of 2003, a 2-0 loss to China at the Four Nations Tournament.
Posted at 11:00 AM
Friday, December 12, 2008
In perusing the records from this historic year for the WNT, we found one especially amazing stat. It seems that U.S. captain Christie Rampone has already played more minutes in 2008 than any single player has ever played in a calendar year for the WNT. She has played 2,886 minutes so far while the team has played 3,150, meaning Rampone has been on the field for 91% of the USA's game-action this year. And that's even with having her gall bladder taken out last May! Her play in the 2008 Olympics was certainly inspirational and vital in the USA's run to the gold medal, especially in shutting out powerful Brazil in the championship game. If she plays all 180 minutes of the final two matches of the year against China, she will become the first player ever to play more than 3,000 minutes for the USA in a calendar year.
Posted at 5:32 PM
Thursday, December 11, 2008
U.S. defender Lori Chalupny seems to be making a point about something in the above pic, which was taken at the end of training as the U.S. team prepared for a game of "crossbar." What do you suppose she was saying? Fair warning: we'll only post the funny and/or clever responses. And we think you know that the WNT Blog knows funny and clever.
Posted at 10:20 PM
U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx had a busy day. First came training, then a quick photo shoot (below) for the L.A. Times (as Boxx, a Torrance, Calif. native will be playing this Saturday with the USA at The Home Depot Center just minutes from where she grew up) then came a ride on the Goodyear Blimp with a few teammates (we may have pics and some more info from the flight tomorrow on the Blog), and finally she had another photo shoot during the late afternoon (above). But hey, when you are a finalist for the 2008 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, your time is in high demand and you get to do fun things like ride on blimps and dress up for photo shoots.
Posted at 10:06 PM
U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo showed up at training camp this week with a bit of a different look. Seems the former blond has changed teams to the brunettes. Since Hope always has fun whether she's blond or brunette, we'll put that old adage to rest. The WNT Blog thinks it's a good look for the USA's #1 and perhaps even makes her more intimidating in the nets? For now, she'll go with a color we like to call "Gianluigi Buffon," but we're sure she'll go back to the "Peter Schmeichel" at some point.
Posted at 9:44 PM
U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage has been apparently picking up some accolades in her native land after coaching the USA to the 2008 Olympic gold medal. Of course, Pia is too humble to tell anyone back here about it and since we can't read the Swedish articles, we're not quite sure what she won, but after becoming privy to some info, we got out of her that she was named Swedish Soccer Coach of the Year and is up for another prestigious award for top leader of the year for all sports in Sweden. There has been a steady stream of Swedish media coming by Los Angeles to interview her this year and a reporter from Swedish daily Norra Skåne chatted her up after training today. We hope that if Sundhage wins another award (perhaps a Nobel Prize?... they are given out in Stockholm every year after all) that we'll find out about it a little sooner.
Posted at 9:33 PM
While the U.S. WNT is not setting the record on this trip for most babies on board (we think the record is five players' kids in a WNT camp) there are four babies with the U.S. team this week, which certainly makes meal time entertaining. Of course, the veteran kid Rylie Rampone is here with her mom Christie as is Keegan Markgraf with his mom Kate. Add Mya Ellertson, newest daughter of Tina and the rookie baby, Sidney, Kristine Lilly's daughter, and you've got the making of a pretty good back line for an Under-3 soccer team. Usually a ham for the camera, Rylie Rampone, seen below sitting between her parents at team dinner tonight at P.F. Changs, apparently is tired of the paparazzi.
Posted at 8:50 PM
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The U.S. Women's National Team lost three key players during its run to the 2008 Olympics as Cat Whitehill and Leslie Osborne tore ACLs and Abby Wambach broke her leg. The WNT Blog is happy to report that all three are doing great and are on schedule -- or ahead of schedule -- in their comebacks.
Posted at 6:50 PM
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
U.S. legend Kristine Lilly trained with the U.S. National Team today for the first time since October of 2007. The only woman in history to play in five Women's World Cup tournaments took most of 2008 off to have her first child, a baby girl, who was born last June. Lilly has worked her way back into playing shape and while her legendary fitness level is probably still a few months away, she felt great after her first intense training in over a year. Some of the players were talking after training about how many practices Lilly has under her belt. They figured a 10-1 training-to-games ratio was probably a fair one, and with a world record 340 caps, that's about 3,400 National Team practices! And that's not even counting trainings during her three years with the Boston Breakers of the WUSA or stints in Sweden. And of course, when you've played that many games and had that many trainings, you need to stretch the legs, as Lilly does after practice with fellow veteran Briana Scurry below.
Posted at 9:40 PM
The USA's roster for the two matches against China did include 22 players, but injuries and illness have reduced the number of players available to head coach Pia Sundhage. Forward Natasha Kai, the USA's leading scorer this year with 15 goals, will miss the trip due to illness. Forward Lauren Cheney will also not join the team due to the battering her body took during the just completed college season as well as her preparation for final exams at UCLA. Midfielder Aly Wagner and defender Stephanie Cox are with the U.S. team in camp, but injuries to a calf and hamstring respectively have ruled them out of the matches. They will focus on rehabilitation for their injuries during the week.
Posted at 8:05 PM
Consider these nuggets from this historic year:
The USA set a record for most wins in a year in the 24-year history of the program and is now 31-1-2.
The only loss was in the opening game of the 2008 Olympics, from which the U.S. team famously rebounded to win the gold medal.
If the team wins or ties the two games against China, it will also set a record for best winning percentage in a year that it played more than 10 matches.
The USA won all five tournaments it entered, none of them in the United States:
January: Four Nations Tournament in China
March: Algarve Cup in Portugal
April: Olympic Qualifying in Mexico
June: Peace Queen Cup in South Korea
August: 2008 Olympics in China
Posted at 5:40 PM
Sunday, November 9, 2008
We're sure you're wondering about the youngster above.... Although Carli couldn't accept his marriage proposal for legal reasons - the boy was about 11 or 12 - she did give him a nice autographed jersey and a hug before the game, which made the boy's Mom cry. Carli went on to have an outstanding game, so maybe there was a bit of magic in the air...
Until next time!
Posted at 8:27 AM
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Fittingly, Hucles is coming to the end of what is by far her best year ever with the Women’s National Team. Her four goals at the 2008 Olympics will go down as one of the best clutch tournament performances in team history.
It's been a big week for Hucles, who started this three-game stretch against South Korea by scoring the opening goal of the first game - a 3-1 win - in front of her hometown fans in Richmond, Va.
You can see how Hucles - and the rest of her teammates - fare tonight on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.
Posted at 9:13 AM
Did you know there was a huge pirate ship in one of the endzones at RJS? That just screams photo op, so after training the team took full advantage. Even though we missed Talk Like A Pirate Day, it was still pretty neat to see the big ship and the pirate-themed shops surrounding it.
Posted at 9:09 AM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
It was Mitts' choice tonight for dinner as the team went out to Montgomery Inn at the Boathouse for some AMAZING ribs.... and chicken... and steak... and of course the world famous Graeter's Ice Cream for dessert. It was a great meal, and our tables were right next to the huge picture windows that overlooks the Ohio River.
How can we be sure that she really, really likes this place? Well, here is one of the first sights we saw when walking in...
The ribs were so good we wore bibs... HAO and Kacey were nice enough to model the beautiful accessories for the WNT Blog.
Posted at 6:23 PM
As usual, the team held their stadium training today at Paul Brown Stadium - home of the Cincinnati Bengals and tomorrow night, home of the USA. Even though it was a day off for the other football team in town, several players came out to see the players go through a good training session... and to heckle Bengals kicker Shayne Graham, who had challenged the girls to a field goal contest.
First though, he had to make some penalty kicks against Nicole Barnhart and Bri Scurry... let's just say he's a hustler. With shots sailing into the upper 90 and into the side netting, it was clear that these were not Shayne's first PKs.
Thanks to all the Bengals for letting us borrow their field for a few days as they go into their bye week! Keep your eye out for some of the big guys(with their wives and daughters) at tomorrow night's game...
Posted at 10:04 AM
Monday, November 3, 2008
There are certain inevitable risks taken when planning an outdoor event in Cincinnati in November, but boy did U.S. Soccer's staff order some EXCELLENT weather for our stay. The locals tell us it's supposed to stay 75 and sunny for the rest of the week and we can't ask for more than that!
The University of Cincinnati let us borrow their game field for the USA's first training session, and a lot of the Bearcats were able to watch the team train on what is definitely some fast turf.
Posted at 3:44 PM
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Posted at 7:59 PM
Everyone was thrilled that this morning brought the end of Daylight Savings Time, which meant an extra hour of sleep... not that the team had to be up early for any reason the day after a hard fought game against South Korea.
Most of the day was spent packing up, walking around Richmond a little bit and watching some American football - we had to miss overtime of the Packers-TITANS (thanks for that correction) game in order to head to the airport. This did not make the players happy.
We're not sure how this worked, but 100 percent of people surveyed said that the clock radio in their hotel room automatically changed the time. HOW DID THEY DO THAT?
Posted at 3:56 PM
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Well, it's game day here in Richmond, and a GORGEOUS day it is too... The locals are telling us they can't believe how nice and warm it is - though they're warning us that temps will drop when the sun goes down. It's another cloudless day, and the twilight kickoff should make for perfect soccer weather.
We'll post the USA starting lineup shortly, and of course you can follow tonight's game live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker!
Posted at 1:59 PM
Friday, October 31, 2008
We hope you all had as much fun on Halloween as the WNT. The team went all out in celebration of the holiday and of Riley Rampone's third birthday. We can't properly put the party - which included bobbing for apples and an eyeball pinata - into words, so pictures will have to do...
Posted at 6:21 PM
Her four goals at the Olympic Games mark one of the most clutch performances in U.S. WNT history, and they actually came in three consecutive matches - one against New Zealand in the Group G finale, one against Canada in the quarterfinal and two against Japan in the semifinal. Hucles had scored just five over her entire career heading into this year, but now has seven in 2008 as well as a place in U.S. Women’s National Team lore.
Posted at 1:15 PM
Today marked the return to the team for defenders Marian Dalmy (torn ACL) and Tina Ellertson (second child). Both hit the pitch today for a relatively light practice. Dalmy arrived yesterday evening with maybe the most unbelievable travel story we've ever heard - okay, not maybe, definitely the craziest.
Her connection through Atlanta was supposed to be smooth, she wasn't even have to deplane as the flight to Richmond was just a continuation. That changed however, when they landed in Atlanta and a baggage worker noticed that a cage that was supposed to contain two CHEETAHS was open and the cheetahs were nowhere to be found. Cheetahs. Like, the big cats. Anyway, zoo employees were called in to tranquilize the animals and incredibly, no damage was done to any of the other bags or any people. Don't believe us? Read for yourself...
Posted at 10:51 AM