Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympics Winds Down


A few players at the Bird's Nest before Argentina defeated Nigeria, 1-0, to win the men's soccer gold medal.

Yesterday was the first day off for the U.S. players in weeks. What did they do? Well, lots of sleep. But after that, the players did a lot of shopping, went to Olympic events (a good representation of soccer players at the men's soccer final and the women's volleyball and basketball gold medal games) and of course the requisite end of the Olympics celebration parties. Today, a bunch of the players got tickets to the men's basketball and men's water polo gold medal games. How fun is the Olympics, especially after you've won a gold medal? SO FUN. Tonight is the Closing Ceremonies and all the players will be marching, so watch closely on NBC to see if you can see your favorite women's soccer players. Tomorrow morning, finally, the USA will head back to the States for a few weeks off before beginning its post-Olympic tour on Sept. 13 in Philadelphia against Ireland. The USA will also play the Irish on Sept. 17 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey and on Sept. 20 at Toyota Park outside of Chicago. The remaining seven matches have yet to be confirmed, but of course all the info will be up on ussoccer.com as soon as it's available. We'll see you at the games!

Championship T-Shirts


Join your fellow fans who have already ordered their U.S. Women's National Team official Champions T-Shirt at ussoccerstore.com.

The REAL Celebration

As promised, we have even MORE celebration footage from the U.S. Women's Gold Medal-winning performance against Brazil. Check it out at ussoccer.com.


Friday, August 22, 2008

First Look: U.S. Women Capture Gold

Following Thursday's Gold-Medal match against Brazil, ussoccer.com caught up with the players as they began their celebration. It was a busy evening for the players as a media frenzy erupted but as always, we have got something great in store for you, our fans. Here's what our champions had to say following the match, and stay tuned for more celebration footage coming soon!


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Today in Beijing


Here's some video of the team on the Today Show. If you read a good article about the team, or see a good video online, past the link the the comments.

Here are some highlights of the game from nbcolympics.com.

Today Show Appearance

After an extremely long day of media, the U.S. Women capped it off with a stop at The Today Show on NBC. With their location drop dead in the middle of the Olympic Green between the Bird's Nest and The Cube, The Today Show backdrop of the main venue and the lit Olympic Torch is pretty darn awesome if we do say so ourselves. The entire team arrived from the Village a little before 7 p.m., and for most it was a pretty awe-inspiring sight as they had yet to check out the Olympic Green, or see any of the venues. While waiting to go on around 7:40, the players hung out with the Women's Water Polo team, which won the silver medal, and also got to meet the gold medal-winning Men's Beach Volleyball team of Todd Rodgers and Philip Dalhausser. At one point, Tobin Heath borrowed the water polo team's ball and started showing off some of her unbelievable juggling skills, which the NBC cameras were all over like a Silk Market saleswoman on a customer (if you don't get this one, ask someone who's been to China). After getting to watch the first 30 minutes or so of the show, talk to the fans gathered at the open-air set, the players got to meet Meredith Vieira and she talked to Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo and Kate Markgraf for about four minutes. There's probably...scratch that...definitley more little things we could share that went on during the team's 45-minute stop, but we're so tired that we'll have to save anything else until tomorrow. For now, check out these pics.

Translucent is the Word

If you thought the now iconic Water Cube was pretty during the day, take a gander at night. The aquatics venue for the 2008 Olympics is one of the world's most unique buildings and certainly is more striking under the stars than during the day. As the Olympics wind down, thousands upon thousands of Chinese fans, Olympians, coaches, staff and tourists are strolling the Olympic Green taking thousands of thousands of pictures. Here is one we liked.

'Nuff Said

At Beijing Normal University, where some of the U.S. WNT staff is staying, they post a sheet of paper near the entrance with every U.S. medal winner. Needless to say, the wall is papered with paper as the U.S. Olympic Team is nearing 100 overal medals. The women's soccer team got it's place on the wall of fame this morning.

Star Power

You think that the USA vs. Brazil Olympic gold medal match was a big deal in Beijing? Well, you'd be correct. Not only did almost 52,000 fans fill the Beijing Workers Stadium, but there were some serious VIPS in the audience. How does this collection of personalities strike you: Lakers and USA Basketball star Kobe Bryant, figure skating legend Michelle Kwan, IOC Pressident Jacque Rogge, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, movie star Vince Vaughn, and, you guessed it, the GREAT Pele. (We wonder which team he was cheering for?). There were also numerous other U.S. athletes who made the trek and stayed up late to support the soccer players and we just want to say we really appreciate it. The U.S. team is planning on returning the favor as numerous players are planning on attending the Women's Basketball gold medal game and/or the Women's Volleyball gold medal game. A bunch of players are going to the Men's Soccer gold medal game as well. Argentina vs. Nigeria in front of 90,000 at the Bird's Nest! Wow. Needless to say, all present at Workers Stadium on Aug. 21 were treated to a fabulously exciting match and left with a very fond Olympic memory (well, except those rooting for Brazil). Of course, these aren't pics of these famous people at the game. The Blog's little camera doesn't have a very good zoom.



















Preparing for the Next Match Already?

Is Hope Solo preparing for the USA's next match already?? Not quite. The real question is: What happens when you play in a match that kicks off at 9 p.m., play overtime for a total of 120 minutes, partake in a Olympic gold medal celebration, barely get any sleep and then start doing a full day of media? You start cramping. Who knew answering questions about how great it is to win a gold medal and displaying your bling-bling countless times could be so grueling? Well, while this will be the only time Hope will ever take a 90-second time out to stretch at the NBC studios here in Beijing, soon enough her and her teammates will be getting limber when they begin their post-Olympic tour in the U.S. (looking for a good name for the tour people...any ideas?). The Fall tour gets underway with three games against Ireland on Saturday, Sept. 13 in Philadelphia at 8 p.m. ET at Lincoln Financial Field, and Wed., Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The last of these three games will be played on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. CT at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Ticket information for all the matches is on ussoccer.com. Come be a part of the Olympic gold medal celebration! Fans can follow all the matches live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

Green Room Recap

While sitting in the MPC Green Room before going to do their team press conference, the players could have easily fell asleep in the comfortable couches and sofa chairs, but despite the lack of sleep they were still pretty wide awake and the topic of discussion was on different moments in the game last night. Players kept bringing up situations or plays that occurred and giving their synopsis or view of what happened, all with a smile on their face. Remember the Brazil free kick that went just wide left of the goal?? Well, Kate Markgraf and Hope Solo do, too, as they chatted about the close call. Remember Lloyd's shot off the woodwork that almost sealed the game? A number of players did, knowing that would have sealed it and lessened the final stressful minutes. Remember Solo's huge reaction save against Marta in the second half? (Ahhh...yeah?) No player could forget, but Solo herself was almost at a loss to explain, stating it happened so quickly it's almost hard to remember. Remember or not...it was unbelievable. Pretty interesting to hear the breakdown to say the least.

Stop at NBC

After the press conference, while 14 of the players headed back to crash at the Olympic Village, four brave souls hopped in a car to do more media. Hope Solo, Christie Rampone, Carli Lloyd and Heather Mitts did some interviews with NBC affiliates and as you can see, they have a fantastic view of the Bird's Nest. They then went over to the NBC studios at the IBC (where they got a standing ovation when they walked into the huge control room) to do some more hits with the the various network mediums (man, are they organized over there! Thanks NBC) and then they were finally stuffed in a car and taken back to the Village. The team may do a bit more media tomorrow, but most of the rest of the two days in China will be spent having a blast, going to events and yes, marching in the Closing Ceremonies.

Good Morning USA!


Well done ladies! Everyone was bright-eyed and alert for the press conference (sort of).

Well, it was either a long night or a short morning for the gold medal champions, depending on how you look at things, but no one got much sleep. An informal poll showed that no single player got more than two hours of shut-eye and several never laid their head on a pillow. How good did that McDonald's Egg McMuffin taste this morning? Heather O'Reilly get on her bike was on a mission to get one before the team left the Olympic Village for the press conference. Despite the lack of sleep, the team was troopers and gathered at 9:15 a.m. to head over to a press conference at the MPC where they did about 45 minutes of "gold medal debrief" media before heading back to the Olympic Village for naps. Of course, the Today Show is tonight so no rest for the weary...or those with gold around their necks.


When you win a gold medal, you pose for a lot of pictures.

1,000th Baby!

Making the USA's gold medal win over Brazil even more special is that it was the 1,000th Olympic gold medal in United States history. (The total does not include the 1906 Games that are not recognized by the IOC, but there was no women's soccer in that games anyway!)

Olympic Champs on The NBC Today Show

To finish up a day of media in Beijing, the U.S. team will appear on the NBC Today Show tonight (well, this morning in the States) at around 7 a.m. ET to kick off the show and then will be featured at some point in the next 45 minutes. If you are up, tune in to catch what surely will be some very tired, but very happy soccer players. You can likely get a close up view of their gold medals when they hit the Today Show set which is located right in the Olympic Green. Should be fun.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gotta Go ... and Celebrate

Who does everyone in the media want to talk to after a gold medal-winning 1-0 victory?? The goal scorer of course!

Slight problem ... Carli Lloyd was one of the two players chosen at random for drug testing. So as the media patiently waited, Carli pounded water to help speed up the "sample." Tick-tock, tick-tock. As 20 minutes turned to an hour, then another hour (she was dehydrated people! 120 minutes will do that), the rest of the team went through the mix zone, got on the bus and started the celebration at the USA House.

Since she was waiting anyway and knew nature wasn't calling anytime soon, Carli was able to quickly jump in the mix zone to talk to reporters (read what she said). On her way back, she was bombarded for photos by volunteers, stopping almost every few feet - the goal scorer is always the hot pic! After getting back to the drug testing area it was about 30 minutes later (for a total of almost three hours after the game!) and Carli finally got out of there. A quick shower and she was able to join her teammates, walking in to the celebration to loud cheers from friends and family!

We're No. 1 -- and 1,000

As if winning the Gold Medal, against Brazil, in overtime, on a spectacular Carli Lloyd goal wasn't enough, shortly after the game U.S. Soccer was notified by the U.S.O.C. that this was the 1,000th gold medal won by the U.S.

Post your congrats and comments for the team here!!

(Photo by Brad Smith/isiphotos.com)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Raining in Beijing

Weather has been a storyline of this Olympic women's soccer tournament and it looks like the gold medal game could continue that trend. It's raining right now in Beijing, and although it has definitely tapered off quite a bit in the afternoon, there is a 40% chance of rain at kickoff time. Still, as always, both teams have to play in it and the U.S. team had dealt with its share of adversity this year and this tournament, so a little bit of the wet stuff will likely not have a major impact on the match.

Soccer Moms on The Today Show

The NBC Today Show will be airing a special piece on the moms in the Olympic Games and the USA's own Soccer Moms -- Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf -- will be a part of the feature. It is scheduled to run at around 8:11 a.m. on Thursday morning if you want to tune in or set your DVRs. It could move up a few minutes, but it should air in that half hour.

Cross Training

Right as the U.S. team was starting training today, the U.S. Women's Basketball Team came by the practice field to say hi, but the Americans were already into their warm-up. So after the USA's training, as the basketball practice was finishing up, almost all of the soccer players stopped by the gym to say hi and wish the hoopsters the best in their semifinal. A few minutes later, the U.S. Women's Volleyball team walked into the gym to begin their practice and suddenly the place was packed with some of the finest female team-sport athletes in America. Of course, the U.S. players wanted to shoot some hoops and play with the volleyball and the basketball players tried a few soccer tricks (they were pretty good!) and then all three teams posed for a picture. It was definitely a unique Olympic experience and all the WNT players sincerely enjoyed the chance to meet, and in some cases reunite (as a bunch of the players knew each other) with the other athletes as everyone wished each well on their gold medal quests. Best of all? We caught a bunch of it on video. Click below to see our very special WNT video blog.

Editor's Note: The soccer players look really, really short.

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Final Practice

The U.S. team held its final training session in China today, running through a light 75-minute session at Beijing Normal University. There was quite a big media turnout, much larger than any of the USA's practice sessions in China, but of course, we haven't been in Beijing much and this is the gold medal game. There was media at training from the USA, Brazil, Germany and yes, Sweden, as Swede Pia Sundhage coaching the USA into the gold medal game against several Brazilians who play in Sweden is quite a bit story up there. After training, the team ate lunch at BNU and then a few players headed out for a bit of shopping or family time. The team is back in the Olympic Village for dinner and the pre-game meeting, then its time to settle down for a good night's sleep. Tomorrow will be another long day as kickoff is not until 9 p.m. local.



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Talking USA-Brazil

Shannon Boxx, Angela Hucles and Lori Chalupny did a press conference at the Main Press Center today to preview the Olympic gold medal game. The media interest since the team arrived in Beijing has been pretty good, especially considering everything going on here and how many different events all the journalists have to cover. The trio answered questions on a wide range of topics and you can read a few of their answers ussoccer.com, as well as a few more quotes from their teammates. Sidenote: They have some nice plants at the MPC.

Big Rings, Little Forward

Part of the fun of coming to an Olympics is getting your picture taking in front of huge Olympic rings. For Amy Rodriguez: Mission Accomplished. Yes, that's Amy in the red shirt.

Gym Time

There was no training on the field today for the U.S. team, but the players did do a regen workout at the gym in the Olympic Village. You can't tell from this pic, but the place was full of athletes working out, including a taekwondo guy who somehow (years of training of course) could swing his leg above his head with enough force against padded gloves his coach was holding that it made a loud "THWACK" that could be heard throughout the gym. That dude connects in his match and it's lights out. The players only did a light workout as today was about rest and relaxation. A few players did do some interviews in the International Zone for NBC for the broadcast on Thursday, but then most headed out to see friends and family or do a little shopping. Tomorrow, the team will hold an hour training at midday and then it will be all about mentally preparing for the gold medal match.

That's Some Good Eatin'

One of the best things about the Olympics is the dining hall. But this ain't no college dining hall. If thought Odin's Valhalla was big, take a trip to the Olympics. The diner hall is one of the favorite places for the athletes as people from all over the world mingle and eat together, almost all wearing the colors of the country. Let's just say the physiques walking by at any given moment make you want to hit the gym. The variety, amount and high quality of the food is mind-boggling and the only complaint of the players is deciding what to eat! And did we mention the free McDonald's? "Yes, I'll have nine Big Macs please, to go." (Man, we really need to hit the gym). The massive undertaking to get a food service operation like up and running for the entire Olympics is mind-boggling, but the Chinese have done a fantastic job. The dining hall measures 19,000 square meters and has 5,000 seats, with five different zones, serving everything from European to Asian food. It is open around the clock and we are told it serves three tons of rice each day! You of course can get the Beijing specialty Peking Duck there. We caught up with Steph Cox and Rachel Buehler as they chose their lunch selections. Looks like Rachel was starting with a bagel.

We Want to Ride Our Bicycles

The Olympic Village is sprawling. It is festive, peaceful, extremely well manicured and very well organized, but let's get this straight -- This is a small city we are talking about here. So to get around -- from the dorm to the gym to meals to whatever else -- several members of the U.S. team have purchased small bikes for just $50. And these things are sweet. They have cool canvas baskets on the front and can even be folded up and carried. A few of the players are thinking about bringing them home. (Yes, Mr. Flight Attendant Sir, my carry-on is a bike and it can fit in the overhead compartment). We caught up with a few of the players as they were tooling around the village, hopefully not auditioning for the BMX competition that will take place in the Olympics for the first time this year.

Monday, August 18, 2008

On to the Final...

In many ways, it has been a magical tournament for the USA. After giving up two goals in the first four minutes of the first match, the U.S. women have come all the way back to make the gold medal game. If that isn't a story about Olympic spirit, we don't know what is. And then tonight, after going down a goal in the first half, the U.S. team roared back with four scores before cruising to the 4-2 victory over Japan. And have you ever seen a goal in a women's match better than Lori Chalupny's strike that put the USA up for good? We think not. Thanks to all the fans who watched back home and have been supporting the team through the first five matches. A monster challenge looms in the gold medal game against Brazil, but for sure the U.S. team will be ready. Tomorrow is a day off from training as the team will do some recovery in the Olympic Village and then the final practice of the Olympics will take place on Aug. 20. With a crowd of over 50,000 tonight, you can be sure the Beijing Workers Stadium will be packed for the gold medal game. Speaking of packed...The Brazil-Argentina men's game is tomorrow at that stadium. The WNT Blog will try to catch up with the players tomorrow for some updates, but we might take in Ronaldinho vs. Messi as well.

USA-JPN: Lineups Are In

The U.S. suits up the same side that started in the quarterfinal vs. Japan. The only change from the USA's 1-0 win vs. Japan in the group stage is the addition of Lori Chalupny, who missed the game due to injury.

USA: 1-Hope Solo; 17-Lori Chalupny, 15-Kate Markgraf, 2-Heather Mitts, 3-Christie Rampone-Capt.; 7-Shannon Boxx, 11-Carli Lloyd, 9-Heather O’Reilly, 5-Lindsay Tarpley; 16-Angela Hucles, 8-Amy Rodriguez

Japan also makes just one change from their lineup vs. the U.S. on Aug. 9. In midfield Kyoko Yano comes on in favor of Miyuki Yanagita.

JPN: 1-Miho Fukumoto; 2-Yukari Kinga, 3-Hiromi Ikeda, 4-Azusa Iwashimizu, 7-Kozue Ando; 14-Kyoko Yano, 8-Aya Miyama, 10-Homare Sawa, 15-Mizuho Sakaguchi, 11-Shinobu Ohno, 17-Yuki Nagasato.

Follow the score, stats and commentary live via MatchTracker. Post your in-game comments here.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

China Has Gone Big


The flags of every nation at the Olympics fly at the Athlete's Village
You've heard the saying "Go Big, or Go Home"? Well, for the 2008 Olympics, China has gone Big as the world has come to their home. The Olympic Green, which encompasses the Bird's Nest, the Water Cube, the International Broadcast Center, the Main Press Center and numerous other fun and massive stuff, is simply fantastic. The Chinese have done a wonderful job with infrastructure and the mood on the Green is one of friendship, festivity and fun. Suffice it to say, the Chinese are really enjoying their Olympics and everyone you meet goes out of the way to help and answer your questions. The Olympic Village is beautifully landscaped and peaceful, and with the high rise dorms/apartments pretty close together, it definitely creates a feeling of community amongst the athletes.

The now iconic Bird's Nest with the Olympic Torch burning in the background

Adjacent to the Olympic Green, massive televisions have been placed on numerous tall buildings and images of Chinese champions were running continuously

'Nuff said.

Visit to the MPC

In the afternoon, four players (Christie Rampone, Kate Markgraf, Heather O'Reilly and Amy Rodriguez) and head coach Pia Sundhage took a short trip from the Olympic Village to the massive Main Press Center for a fairly well-attended press conference (hey, we're not Michael Phelps, but there was a pretty good turnout), where they talked about the Olympic tournament so far, facing Japan in the semifinal and overcoming the interesting adversity the team has faced the past few weeks. After the PC, Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf sat down with none other than former U.S. captain Julie Foudy to tape a few quotes for NBC to be used during the broadcast of the Japan game. We must say that Foudy still looks like she could lace up the boots and play in the semi (except of course for the belly, as she is five months pregnant with her second child).

Training as Normal

The U.S. team trained for an hour this morning at Beijing Normal University, home base for the USOC during the Olympics, and something amazing happened. It wasn't hot. For the first time since the USA arrived in China, you didn't break out into a sweat the second you stepped out of an air conditioned building. In fact, it was beautiful out. Still a little humid, yes, but not nearly what it has been. The air is clear, you could see the mountains in the distance and the was a cool breeze blowing. It was definitely a nice change of pace after the sweltering temperatures the team had endured so far. The team had a nice lunch at BNU and headed back to the Olympic Village, where they are sharing a building with the Japanese Women's Team, among other athletes. During the WNT Blog's brief time in the Village today, we saw the Japanese players running after the Brazilian men's players to take some pics. The U.S. players would never do that, right? (Whoops, they already did in Shenyang).


Heather O'Reilly is congratulated by teammate Heather Mitts after Heather O smacked the woodwork with her shot from the top of the box at the end of training, giving the Heathers the title in the game of crossbar.