Thursday, August 6, 2009

Time to Change Your Bookmarks for the New WNT Blog

Welcome to the updated version of the Women’s National Team Blog on ussoccer.com – your new home for all things related to the WNT!

This will be the final post in this version of the Women's National Team Blog, but fear not! We will lead you to the new home for WNT news, notes and comedy: just click here to visit our new digs on the new-look ussoccer.com

While the U.S. Women are on hiatus, you will have ample time to adjust to the new surroundings and we will too, but have no fear – the WNT Blog will still be the top destination for all your favorite videos, photos, insight and behind-the-scenes STUFF that we hope you love.

Have no fear, the former, (award-winning!) WNT Blog will still be accessible right here and you’ll still find all the cool stuff we’ve done over the past two years, which, as you know, is a LOT of cool stuff.

Thank you, as always, for your continuing support of the U.S. Women’s National Team –We'll see you over there! Make sure you change your bookmarks!

http://www.ussoccer.com/Social/WNT-Blog.aspx

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

25 Random Things

If you got one of the 2009 Official U.S. WNT Yearbooks at one of the two recent domestic matches, you saw that as part of the FactBook theme, each player listed a bunch of Random Things About Me. We only had space for 10-12 in the book, but each player did at least 25. To read the rest, you can go to ussoccer.com's Center Circle (updated link). There are more than a few amusing ones, including this one from Lori Chalupny (left):

24) I wish I could grow just a little bit so I could be listed (on the rosters) at 5-5 instead of 5-4.

Buy the 2009 WNT Factbook now at ussoccerstore.com.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Abby Wambach - 100 Goals Tribute

To commemorate Abby Wambach's historic 100th career goal, the talented folks at ussoccer.com's all_access video put together this Abby goals compilation, including her 1ooth, scored on July 19 in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y., in the 1-0 victory over Canada. The video, minus the 100th goal (we're not that quick) was played in the stadium moments after the end of the match. So from all of us at U.S. Soccer, well done Abby!

Enjoy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Add Nairn

Upon further research by statistics guru extraordinaire Peter Hirdt of Elias Sports Bureau, we have discovered that Christine Nairn is the 9th youngest player ever to score a goal for the full U.S. Women's National Team. Kristine Lilly was the youngest at 16 years, 22 days, a record that will likely never be broken (one of many seeingingly unbreakable records by Lilly!).

Kristine Lilly

16 years, 22 days
08/13/1987 vs. China (1-1 T)

Tiffany Roberts
16 years, 340 days
04/10/1994 vs. T&T (3-1 W)

Jenn Grubb
17 years, 182 days
01/18/1996 vs. Ukraine (6-0 W)

Veronica Zepeda
17 years, 210 days
01/07/2000 vs. Czech Republic (8-1 W)

Cindy Parlow
17 years, 251 days
01/14/1996 vs. Russia (8-1 W)

Heather O'Reilly
17 years, 277 days
10/06/2002 vs. Italy (4-0 W)

Mia Hamm
18 years, 130 days
07/25/1990 vs. Norway (4-0 W)

Aly Wagner
18 years, 262 days
04/29/1999 vs. Japan (9-0 W)

Christine Nairn
18 years, 300 days
07/22/2009 vs. Canada (1-0 W)

Christie Welsh
18 years, 314 days
01/07/2000 vs. Czech Republic (8-1 W)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Let's Hear it for the Kid!

How's this for an amazing scenario: The USA will play a two-game series against Canada, and in the first match a player will score her 100th career goal and in the second a player will score her first? And the two players who were a part of that 100th goal, will also play a part in the first goal. And both goals will come late in games and be game-winners? Pretty amazing story, huh? And it's true! After Abby Wambach dramatically won the USA-Canada match on July 19 in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y., with a 79th minute goal assisted by Lauren Cheney, 18-year-old Christine Nairn scored her first-ever goal for the senior WNT tonight in the 89th minute to defeat Canada again by a 1-0 score. The goal came after head flicks from Wambach and Cheney. Nairn now becomes one of the rare players to score a goal for the full National Team before ever playing a college game (Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Heather O'Reilly being a few more that we can think of off hand). Nairn, a veteran of the U.S. team that won the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Chile will likely be a key member of the U.S. squad that will attempt to qualify for the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Germany. She will play her freshman season at Penn State in the fall. So congrats to Christine and to the rest of the team for pulling out two dramatic wins over a tough Canadian side. The WNT Blog now takes another break, although we might be back for a post or two here and there, until the U.S. team gets back together in late September for a training camp. For now, it's back to their WPS teams and the quest for a playoff spot. As always thanks for following the WNT Blog. Your patronage is appreciated. Blog out from Charleston, S.C.

Starting XI

Here's today's lineup from head coach Pia Sundhage:


Wambach--------------Tarpley


Rapinoe-----Boxx (c)-----Lloyd-----O'Reilly


Cox-----LePeilbet-----Buehler-----Mitts


Hope Solo


Canada's coming soon...check out matchtracker.ussoccer.com

Loooong Day

With an 8 p.m. ET kickoff tonight (Live on Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Espanol), the U.S. players have about 10 hours to kill before leaving for the match. That's a long time to wait for a soccer player anxious to play a game. What do the U.S. players do all day? Not surprisingly, most just chill. A few of the players not starting tonight went for a light training in the morning. A few went for a walk in historic downtown Charleston. Megan Rapinoe says she "sits on my bed all day and wait for the next thing to come," which means the next meal or meeting. Yeah, the players eat and snack a lot during the day as well. Abby Wambach reads, a lot. The U.S. striker is a voracious reader. Amy LePeilbet is spending the afternoon reading and watching TV, but she'll have to make due with CNN, ESPN and Amanda Bynes' "Sydney White," a modern retelling of Snow White set against students in their freshman year of college in the Greek system. There's not much on daytime TV in Charleston. Stanford grad and potential future medical school student Rachel Buehler says, "I used to study all day, but now I just read." Hopefully, not medical textbooks. Suffice it to say, when the U.S. team boards the bus today for the match, they will be raring to go.

P.S.: The other day when we posted that a little known fact that Tobin Heath won the Outer Banks Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo in 2006 by catching a 88-pound Carolina Cobia. Ummm...we were joking. Not only does that fishing contest not exist, Tobin has never been in a rodeo of any sort and we have no idea what a Carolina Cobia looks like or how much a big one weighs. The WNT Blog apologizes for this moment of flippancy.

Pia Portrait

In partnership with the USOC, artist Jamie Franki, an Associate Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, is collecting photographs and quotations from all the Team USA coaches whose athletes medaled in Olympic and Paralympic competition in Beijing. He is using the photographs to create commemorative portraits of each coach. The coach’s name, their Olympic event, a hand-drawn portrait and a quotation about their Olympic coaching experience are combined on 4’ x 12’ banners. The commemorative banners will travel the United States as a benefit exhibition. Booking fees will benefit Team USA. Franki is also the designer of the Order of Ikkos medal, which was presented to the U.S. coaches whose teams won gold medals in Beijing. Coaches do not get medals in the Olympics, only players, so the USOC thought it proper to create a medal for the head coaches as well. Pia's excellent portrait is hand-articulated colored pencil drawing.

In case you can't read it, Pia's quote for the banner was: "One of the things I am most proud of about our run to the Olympic gold medal was creating an environment on the team in which the players and the staff brought out the best performance in each other. Soccer is a team sport and a player's sport. The gold medal was a victory for team effort, teamwork and team spirit."

Well said, Pia, well said.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Double

Tobin Heath has some skilz. Oh, she's got skills too, but within those skills are some serious skilz. In fact, as the kids say, she's "just plain sick" when it comes to dribbling. Despite her youth, Tobin is one of the USA's most skillful players and a dynamic, slashing dribbler who brings some truly unique qualities to the field. With a desire to run at players from the flanks and go inside or outside to fire shots or bend in crosses with both feet, Heath has solidified her status as one of the top young players in the country. Her very first touches in her very first cap in January of 2008 against Finland featured a nutmeg and she hasn't stopped since. Her first touches against Canada on July 19 after coming into the match in the 75th minute were also a nutmeg. Then she pulled of this double-nutmeg below, which got the crowd, and Pia Sundhage, jumping for joy. If you're keeping score, that's three nutmegs in 15 minutes. But that's just Tobin. Check out the roll with the sole and then the toe-poke to Shannon Boxx. Yeah, sick.

video

P.S.: If you don't think juggling can help improve your ball skills, don't forget ussoccer.com's all_access Video of the Year in 2008: WalkAbout with Tobin Heath

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dinner Out

The U.S. team got out of the hotel for a nice dinner tonight in downtown Charleston, one of the most picturesque and historic small towns in America. The excursion gave the U.S. players a chance to get out of their soccer clothes and stretch their legs before getting some well-deserved rest on a travel day. At the dinner, U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage and the team presented Abby Wambach with a Wambach 100 jersey (courtesy of Nike) signed by the whole team to commemorate her milestone goal last Sunday in her hometown or Rochester, N.Y. As far as we know, it's the only Wambach 100 jersey in existence so don't look for one on ussoccerstore.com. Wambach thanked the whole team for helping and supporting her through a difficult last 12 months during her comeback from her broken leg.

It's Hot in Charleston

The U.S. team has arrived in Charleston, S.C. to prepare to face Canada on Wed., July 22 at Blackbaud Stadium. The match kicks off at 8 p.m. ET and will be televised live on FSC. It's a little bit "moist" in Charleston, especially as compared to the summer in upstate NY in Rochester, because as you know, it's not the heat that gets ya, it's the humidity. The USA left early this morning (6:30 am bus depature! Yes, it's not all glamour with the WNT) and arrived in Charleston (via Charlotte, N.C.) at around 1:30 p.m. The team trained at 5 p.m. as the players shook some soreness out of their legs that comes with 90 minutes on artificial turf. Thankfully, the match on Wednesday is on the plush grass at Blackbaud, home to the USL's Charleston Battery. Before the USA's training, Tobin Heath (left) reeled in a virtual marlin, or virtually caught a cast iron marlin in a fountain? One of the two. (Little known fact: Tobin won the Outer Banks Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo in 2006 by catching a 88-pound Carolina Cobia). And Shannon Boxx, Angela Hucles, Heather Mitts and Lindsay Tarpley (right) relax before hopping on the bus. (Looks like Tarp was munching on a Gatorade Bar as well). Tarpley didn't play against Canada in Rochester as she recovered from a knock on her ankle suffered in her last WPS match against the Boston Breakers, but she trained full out today and should be ready to go at Blackbaud.

WPStreaming

While the players are with the National Team, they of course are keeping an eye on the results from their WPS clubs as the season enters its critical stage in the run to the playoffs. The players mostly have to follow Twitter, text messages from their teammates, WPS MatchTracker and post-game phone calls, but Lori Chalupny and Cat Whitehill were lucky enough to be able follow the St. Louis Athletica vs. Washington Freedom match via a webcast. While the WNT teammates and WPS foes were able to co-exist diplomatically in front of the computer screen, needless to say there were some fist pumps, jumping up and down and verbal banter as Whitehill's Freedom pulled out the 1-0 victory. Chalupny, who once again put in a stellar match at left back during the USA's last game, playing 90 minutes against Canada on July 19, will not be available for the 2nd leg on Wednesday night as she has returned home to St. Louis due to a death in the family. The WNT Blog sends out its thoughts and well wishes to Chalupny and her family. With U.S. captain Christie Rampone already out after having abdominal surgery in Rochester a few days ago, that leaves the U.S. team without its captain and co-captain and with just five defenders on the roster: Whitehill, Amy LePeilbet, Rachel Buehler, Heather Mitts and Stephanie Cox. Last we checked, though, you only need four Ds to play a 4-4-2, Pia Sundhage's formation of choice for most of her tenure at the helm of the U.S. team.

Mistaken Identity

More than a few times has Heather Mitts and Leslie Osborne been mistaken for each other and/or compared to each other, mostly when they are on the field, and mostly by fans and TV analysts. Sure both are very blond, have similar hair styles, similar builds (although Osborne is 5-8 and Mitts is 5-5), similar facial structure and often wear similar cute hairbands, but last night in Rochester it got taken to another level. Osborne was out at dinner with her dad after the USA had defeated Canada 1-0 and two tables worth of young soccer girls were looking at her, pointing and whispering during the entire meal. They finally got the courage to come up to Osborne and ask to get their picture take with her. Osborne, a fan favorite where ever she plays, of course posed with all the girls, one of whom ended the meet and greet with, "It's so awesome that you have 100 caps!" Of course, Osborne has 60 caps. It was Mitts who was honored at the match for earning her 100th cap last March at the Algarve Cup. Osborne didn't have the heart to tell the girls that she was not Heather Mitts. "I just walked out of the restaurant," said the slightly embarrassed Osborne. But girls, trust us, still pretty cool to get your picture taken with Leslie, who is with the National Team for the first time in over a year after recovering from two reconstructive surgeries on her left leg. To hear Leslie's thoughts on her long road back and her return to the National Team, along with fellow ACL survivor Cat Whitehill, check out this all_access video.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

She's Done It!

It was a magical afternoon in Rochester, N.Y. this afternoon as Abby Wambach fulfilled what most only dream about. She scored her first goal since tragically breaking her leg in the final pre-Olympic match just over a year ago. It was her historic 100th career goal, putting in an exclusive club with four of the USA's greatest-ever players, and she did it in her hometown in front of hundreds of friends and family and live on ESPN. Not only that, but she scored her 100th goal in the same town (although not the same stadium) as her friend and mentor Mia Hamm, who scored her 100th goal (the first player ever to do so) in 1998 at Rochester's Frontier Field. So congrats to Abby who surely has shown a flair for the dramatic. Suffice it to say, Abby is Back. Freel free to post your congrats for the USA's top striker!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

198 Goals Between Them

It's a special moment for women's soccer as two players will be going for their 100th international goals in the same game, something that may never happen again (unless of course neither Abby Wambach and Christine Sinclair score tomorrow, then it will happen again on July 22 in Charleston, S.C.) For now, we'll enjoy this moment in history as the USA and Canada clash live on ESPN on Sunday, July 19 at 3 p.m. ET. To give you a special appreciation of their amazing accomplishments, we sat down two of the world's top forwards, side-by-side talking about they have in common (Hint: G---'s Anatomy and definitely not their favorite dog), their potential career milestone and their respect for each's other's game.



P.S.: You like the song in this video? It's by LA-based artist Rachael Cantu. Hear more at http://www.myspace.com/rachaelcantu

Get to Know Her: Christine Nairn

Most fans are familiar with most of the U.S. players, but with just one cap, Christine Nairn is definitely the new kid on the block. She has yet to play a college match (she will this fall for Penn State), but has already won a world title, helping the U.S. U-20s to the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup championship in Chile last fall. In this special WNT Blog video, spend 60 seconds with Christine Nairn.

video

House of Wambach

The entire U.S. team and staff were hosted for a scrumptious BBQ dinner last night at Casa Wambach. Special thanks to Abby's parents, her brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends, relatives and everyone else. Really, the Wambach Clan is never-ending. It was nice to get out of the hotel, get some good food and visit with one of the U.S. WNT's favorite families. The Wambach's will be out in force for the USA-Canada match tomorrow. If you are in the stadium, you won't miss them. We don't want to call them "rowdy" but the Wambach's like to have a good time. How about vocal?



The Mayor of Rochester

Abby signs for some young fans at the Univ. of Rochester after the USA's weight-lifting session

What do Bob Duffy and Abby Wambach have in common? Well, one IS the mayor of Rochester and one COULD be the major of Rochester, or perhaps it just seems that way whith the amount of love and recognition that the U.S. striker gets when she returns to her hometown.


Wambach has done interviews with about a 10 different media organizations since return to Rochester and she has been constantly recognized on the streets. She will have more than 100 family and friends in the stands for the match tomorrow at 3 p.m. live on ESPN as she shoots for her historic 100th goal. For a list of her previous 99 goals, click here. Wambach has scored two goals in each of her previous two matches in Rochester, those coming against Iceland and Mexico, so the world's 11th ranked Canadians present a bit stiffer competition.


Wambach has played just 90 minutes for the USA since breaking her leg on July 16, 2008, that coming in the USA's 4-0 win over Canada in Toronto on May 25. Tune into ESPN on Sunday, July 19, at 3 p.m. ET to see Abby and her teammates go for the win over Canada as well as Abby's 100th goal.

Abby with a young fan and Trinidadian Tiger Fitzpatrick of the Rochester Rhinos






Tag along with Abby during her first few days in Rochester in this all_access video.

Rampone Out for Canada Matches

U.S. captain Christie Rampone underwent emergency abdominal surgery early this morning in Rochester, N.Y., where the USA is preparing to face Canada on Sunday at 3 p.m. live on ESPN and will not be available for that match, or the July 22 clash with Canada in Charleston, S.C. (Live on Fox Soccer Channel at 8 p.m. ET). Rampone is fine, resting and may leave the hospital later today. It is undetermined how long she will be sidelined. Rampone has played every minute of all five WNT matches so far this year and led the team in minutes played in 2008, setting a U.S. record for most minutes played in a calendar year with 3,066. U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage will not replace Rampone and the USA will head into the two matches against Canada with a roster of 20 players.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rock Hard Abs

If you watch the USA-Canada match on ESPN this Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, you might see defender Lori Chalupny with a brace on her right hand. Seems she injured her paw in a collision with Heather O'Reilly during a WPS match. We went straight to the protagonists to get the inside scoop on the "incident" in this special WNT Blog video.

video

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Year to the Day


July 16 marks an anniversary of sorts for Abby Wambach. One year ago tonight she broke her leg against Brazil, knocking her out of the Olympic Games. In a classic case of "time heals all wounds" Wambach is back with the USA, in her hometown, in search of a win over Canada and her 100th career international goal. It's amazing the difference a year makes. Wambach is back 100%, looking fit and sharp and certainly excited about playing in front of her friends and family in Rochester. Not surprisingly, Wambach has been the focus of some media attention on the USA's first day in town, doing quite a few interviews and a live TV news shot at the end of training today. Some of the reporters have been covering her since she was a junior high school basketball star. Wambach fielded all the attention with her usual aplomb, focusing not on herself, but on her great pride in returning home to with her teammates and her joy at being back with the National Team. Keep a look out on all_access video to hear a few thoughts from Abby on her return to Rochester. Last time she played here she scored twice in a 3-0 win over Mexico.

Happy Birthday Carli!

Today is the 27th birthday of U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd, and being an international soccer player, of course she celebrated during a WNT training camp. Carli actually got the Birthday Song not once, not twice, not even three times, but FOUR times after dinner. The players sang in English before and after the cake arrived (Carvel ice cream cake, which according to Carli is "the best." Must be an east coast thing), Pia Sundhage sang in Swedish and asst. coach Hege Riise sang in Norwegian. We believe it's the first trilingual birthday celebration during a WNT training camp. You know what would be a nice birthday present for Carli? A goal vs. Canada on Sunday. However, even playing would be nice as well as the USA's Olympic hero (one of the many) missed the last Canada game on May 25 after suffering a fluky and gruesome gash on her kneecap during training. The cut has healed and Carli will be ready to go.

Rolling Into Rochester


The players of the U.S. Women's National Team have been arriving in Rochester, N.Y. all day and of course that means the return of the WNT Blog. A few of the West Coasters came in late last night as it would be tough to make the 5 p.m. training today if they left this morning (and who wants to take those REALLY early AM flights anyway?). As the team hasn't been together for almost two months since the 4-0 victory over Canada in Toronto in late May, the first hours were spent catching up, chatting about their WPS seasons and just being plain happy to be together as a National Team again. Of course, the players have been seeing quite a lot of each other during the WPS season, but as the post-games usually feature a winner and a loser, that's not the time for chit-chat. With everyone on the same team now, the players reveled each other with the ups and downs of a pro season while getting ready for the first training this afternoon. The team will train once a day leading up to Sunday's clash with Canada at 3 p.m. ET at Marina Auto Stadium live on ESPN.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy 10-Year Anniversary!

According to tradition, tin is the gift to give for a 10-year anniversary, and since 10 years ago today the U.S. Women's National Team lifted the shiny, metallic Women's World Cup Trophy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., we'll consider that appropriate. It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since that magical moment when Brandi Chastain nailed the fifth and decisive penalty kick against China in front of 90,185 fans and 40 million more watching on TV in the United States. We shouldn't forget that the teams battled through 120 tense minutes to get to that shootout on a stifling hot day, taking everyone who was watching on the roller-coaster ride of their sporting lifetimes. On this very special anniversary of what is still the greatest women's sporting event in history, we'll let the pundits across the country describe what it means to them and those who bore witness. Please click on these special ussoccer.com features and some articles from across the USA.







You can also go to ussoccer.com's special Remembering '99 page to read the memories of numerous WPS players who watched the 1999 WWC or attended matches.






There is also this cool photo gallery on usatoday.com. And a the USA Today story.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

See you in Rochester

After an excellent performance against Canada on Memorial Day, playing under the adverse conditions of a hard turf field and 10,000 hostile Canadian fans (ok, they weren't hostile. Canadians are actually really nice folks), the U.S. players have returned to their WPS clubs, where they shall stay until mid-July when the team regroups for another two matches against Canada. The first should be extra-fun as Abby Wambach (should she get called up and we think that's a pretty good bet) will be going for her 100th career goal in front of her hometown fans in Rochester, N.Y. on July 19 in front of a live television audience on ESPN. (Do you remember that Mia Hamm scored her 100th goal in Rochester in 1998? Also her 101st). Hmmm...Are the Soccer Gods trying to tell us something? There is sure to be some buzz that week in Rochester with this amazing coming together of circumstances. And we here at the WNT Blog can't wait. But we must. And so must you. We'll start up again when the team arrives in Rochester around July 15 and at that time we'll post the all_access video of the sit-down we did with Abby and Canadian Christine Sinclair, who is also on 99 goals. Until then, enjoy the WPS action.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Abby Goes for 100


Today's match against Canada marks a unique moment in time for women's soccer as both Abby Wambach and Canadian captain Christine Sinclair will be shooting for their 100th career international goals in the same game, something that has never happened before. Keep checking ussoccer.com later today for a special video as we sat down the two goal scorers to talk about their upcoming milestones. For now, you can read about Abby's career as well as get a goal-by-goal breakdown of her first 99 scores, and some interesting and fun Abby goal scoring facts by clicking here. A reminder, you can watch the players' quest for 100 live on Fox Soccer Channel at 7 p.m. ET or follow on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, or if you are so inclined and technologically savvy enough, do both. And if you haven't read the ussoccer.com feature "Abby is Back from Her 'Break'", and you have a few minutes (it's sort of long), click here.

Boxx Talks WPS

With the USA preparing to play its first-ever match during a WPS season, U.S. midfielder and team leader Shannon Boxx sat down with ussoccer.com to discuss coming back into the national team from the WPS, the challenges and the positives. Read what Boxxy's had to say here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dinner and a Game


U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage was kind enough to move up the USA's pre-game meeting tonight so the squad could go to a local sports bar and watch the WPS match between the Los Angeles Sol and FC Gold Pride. (Of course, Pia wanted to watch the game too...). Almost the entire team took in the Sol's 2-0 win, a great victory on the road any way you slice it as they played without four starters (two Americans, two Canadians) that are here in Toronto for the match tomorrow. While the whole team enjoyed the match and the ooooohs! and aaaaaaahs! were frequent, no one lived and died with each kick like the players for the Sol (Shannon Boxx and Brittany Bock) and the Gold Pride (Rachel Buehler and Nicole Barnhart). Huge kudos to back-up Gold Pride GK Allison Whitworth for a fantastic performance, but in the end the Sol picked up the three points to solidfy its lead atop the WPS standings. Tomorrow, 17 WPS players for the USA and six for Canada will lace'em up at BMO Field in a match that can be seen live on Fox Soccer Channel at 7 p.m. ET

Last Training in Toronto

The U.S. team trained this morning on turf at Allan Lamport Stadium, going about 90 minutes in its final practice before facing Canada tomorrow. Following the game, the players will head back to their WPS clubs (or in the case of the college players, summer vacation!) and the national team will not come together until mid-July for two more games against Canada. A reminder that fans can watch the game live on Fox Soccer Channel at 7 p.m. ET and follow online with ussoccer.com's MatchTracker if you don't happen to be in a place that carries FSC. Fortunately, the WPS matches are carried in Canada and a bunch of U.S. players are heading to a sports bar tonight after dinner and the pre-game meeting to watch the L.A. Sol take on FC Gold Pride from Santa Clara, Calif. The result of the match may determine if Shannon Boxx and Brittany Bock or Rachel Buehler and Nicole Barnhart pay for the hot wings and spinach dip.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Matriculating to the WNT





We don't know how much PT they will get on Monday, but props to the four collegiate players that U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage has called in four this event, all of whom have represented the USA at a FIFA youth Women’s World Cup. The players have just 17 caps between them, but 16 of those belong to Lauren Cheney, one of the top forwards in the country at UCLA and a member of the gold medal-winning 2008 Olympic Team. Cheney, who has scored 53 goals in three seasons for the Bruins, was a late addition to the Olympic roster, replacing Abby Wambach after she suffered a broken leg in the final pre-Olympic match. Midfielder Christine Nairn, a Penn State freshman and a member of the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup champions last fall in Chile, gets her second call up after training with the USA in January, but is looking for her first senior team cap. Sundhage also called up forward Casey Nogueira, a member of the USA’s 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Team in Russia, who had a fantastic junior season at North Carolina last year, pounding in 25 goals with eight assists including both scores in the NCAA title game victory against Notre Dame. She picked up a slew of national player of the year awards after the season. Nogueira earned her lone cap at the 2007 Four Nations Tournament in China, playing the first half against England. Goalkeeper Kelsey Davis from the University of Portland also gets a call up, earning the opportunity to train alongside veterans Hope Solo and Nicole Barnhart. A long-time veteran of the USA’s youth national teams, Davis was the back-up goalkeeper at the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Thailand and the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Russia and was a member of the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team that won the 2007 Nordic Cup in Finland. No matter how much these players get to play against Canada, with the Women's World Cup two years away, the time is now to invest in young players to see if they can make an impact down the road.

Lloyd Hurt: Gruesome, but Not Serious


U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd suffered a laceration to her left knee today in the USA's scrimmage and will not be available for the match against Canada on Monday. The injury, which was much worse looking than it actually was, occurred when she skidded on the ground after trying to cross a ball. She suffered a deep, 2.5 inch gash almost directly on the front of her kneecap. No one could figure out if it was a cleat that opened the wound, a rock, or just friction on the ground, but suffice it to say it was pretty gross. So much so that the WNT Blog has decided against posting a picture of it. But to give you visual image, it looked as if a small shark or a barracuda had chomped on her knee. She should be able to make up some good stories with the scar after she is all healed up. "So, I was snorkeling in Bermuda, and out of nowhere, a giant squid grabbed my leg!" Carli is fine, and in good spirits, but once again amazed at the freakishness of injuries she has suffered with the WNT, which includes a broken wrist after she lost her balance hitting a shot early in her career, and a broken nose. The U.S. medical staff, which did a great job cleaning, stitching (it took 5-6 stitches to close that sucker) and dressing the wound on the field, estimates about two weeks until she can get back on the field after the cut has healed and closed up well.

Turf Monsters


The USA's match on Monday against Canada will be played on the FieldTurf, but the Americans should be somewhat used to it by now, having played two matches on the fake stuff in the latter part of 2008 and three games total on plastic last year. No soccer player likes to play on an artificial surface, but the U.S. team has trained on it this week in Canada and finished its domestic schedule last year at Ford Field in Detroit inside the massive dome there. As far as we can figure, the USA has never lost a match on an artificial surface, although they did tie a game in Tromso, Norway in 2000 that was played on a real grass, plastic grass hybrid. You couldn't tell to look at it, but if you bent down, you could see the plastic blades among the real ones. Makes it more durable, which is needed in a place like Tromso where it’s totally dark for half the year. But we digress...If the USA has to play on an artificial surface, it's great to be playing in a fantastic soccer venue like BMO Field. Toronto FC won it's MLS match today against the New England Revolution, so the Canadians fans will be primed and ready for another good performance from their team come Monday. A crowd of 10,000 is possible, which would make for a great environment for the USA's first match in Canada since 2001.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Goal for the Ages

Here at the WNT Blog, we've unearthed a gem from the archives and we just had to share it with you. When Pia Sundhage was hired to coach the U.S. Women's National Team, part of her long soccer biography was the fact that in the 1984 European Women's Championships, she scored a goal for Sweden against England in Gothenburg in the first leg of the two-game Final. Sweden won that match, 1-0, and although they lost the return leg in England, 1-0, Sweden won on PKs to take its first and thus far only European crown. Sundhage scored the winning PK in that shootout. But back to Sundhage's goal. As you will see, it was a brave diving header that rivals anything Abby Wambach has produced in her 99 goals and Abby has scored some nasty goals for sure. Sundhage scored 71 goals in her 146 international matches, but this goal was perhaps one of her best and surely one of her most important. It also gives you a glimpse of why she finished sixth in the voting for FIFA Women's Player of the Century back in 2000. Keep in mind, this goal was scored 25 years ago! Yikes! So now, we're Gonna Fly Now. Well, Pia is.

video

Ghosting Past a Defender?

The U.S. team trained today at Allan Lamport Stadium in Toronto, a small venue (seats just under 10,000) that was built in the mid-1970s. The stadium, named after a former mayor of Toronto from the 1950s, was built on the site of the infamous Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women, i.e, a prison. The prison opened in 1872 with the idealistic promise of a "homelike" atmosphere for its inmates, but in it's almost 100 years of existence earned a dark and dastardly reputation, and in 1969 it was closed and demolished. There has to be some irony that the site which was not a happy place for women would one day host the top-ranked women's soccer team in the world? While some of the players were told that the stadium was haunted, no ghosts were spotted...at least not yet. The team will train there once more before the match against Canada on Monday.



Lori Chalupny just misses cutting off a pass from Lindsay Tarpley to Amy Rodriguez at Allan Lamport Stadium, former site of an infamous women's prison.

Cast Aways


When you are a soccer player, it goes without saying that you'd rather hurt your hand than your foot (unless you are a goalkeeper). We're not sure what caused the rash or wrist/thumb/arm/hand injuries on the U.S. Women's National Team, but as you can see, Shannon Boxx and Marian Dalmy both are sporting some protection for injuries. Nicole Barnhart is a GK so they always are taping something, right? You can always use some extra support for the thumbs when you are fielding shots from Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd. Boxx took a ball off the arm in a WPS training (although she says she's fine and it's looks WAY worse than it is) and Dalmy fell on her hand during a WPS practice and tore a thumb ligament. We think the U.S. team will be fine as long as Boxxy and Dalmy aren't called up to be emergency goalkeepers.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hungry, Hungry Hippo


The U.S. team trained far from its hotel this afternoon and in rush hour traffic, it took over an hour to get to the field. While the trip back wasn't nearly as long, as the bus pulled into downtown Toronto, the players were famished and Megan Rapinoe commented that she was hungry enough to "eat my arm." She was then asked if she was a Hungry, Hungry Hippo and she responded that indeed she was. The mention of the popular kids game brought back some fond childhood memories for Marian Dalmy. Said the U.S. defender: "I beat the heck out of those hippos!" Yeah, that was one fun, frantic marble munching game.

Same hair stylist?

Amy LePeilbet and Megan Rapinoe showed up at national team camp with remarkable similar haircuts. Amy's has a bit more reddish tint to it, but both are using the classic pre-wrap hairband to keep the wispies in check. Truth be told, it's not only cute, but very functional for a professional soccer player who is in the sun all the time and constantly sweating. We are feeling a shampoo endorsement for these two.

Cutting it Close

Just over a week ago, when the USA's two matches against Japan in Texas and Utah were changed to one match against Canada in Toronto, U.S. goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart realized that her passport was expired. Whoops! Yes, you need a passport to travel to Canada. In the words of Forrest Gump..."It's this whole other country." Barnhart had a week to get a new one, but being the conscientious Stanford grad that she is, got right on it. Problem was, she couldn't get an appointment at the ridiculously busy San Francisco Passport office. When she finally got through to a living, breathing human, they said to call back 48 hours before her flight, which she did, and finally got an appointment. Problem was, after dropping off her paperwork, she couldn't get back to San Francisco from the South Bay Area to pick it up, so she hired a courier service to bring it to her. However, when the service went to pick it up the night before she was to travel to Canada, they couldn't get it. Paperwork snafu! Barnhart made calls, resent the paperwork and threatened the courier service with bodily harm (ok, Barnie would never do that). The next morning the service got the passport, drove it back down the peninsula and delivered it to Barnhart after FC Gold Pride training and just an hour before she was going to leave for the airport. Phew! Stressful? Yes, but Barnie made it to Canada, as you can see by the photo below. There is a silver lining. Barnhart said she really needed a new passport photo. That last one was like 10 years old...

Welcome to Tex...Toronto

After some big-time shuffling last week following Japan dropping out of its North American tour, all systems are go for the USA's match against Canada on Monday night in Toronto. Kudos to the behind-the-scenes U.S. Soccer and Canada Soccer staff and officials for the juggling act that brings the U.S. women to Canada for the first time since 2001 in a match that will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel at 7 p.m. ET on Memorial Day. Most of the U.S. players are arriving in Canada today, although the four West Coast-based players arrived late last night as they might not have been able to make it in for afternoon training today had they left early this morning. Those players are of course Rachel Buehler and Nicole Barnhart from FC Gold Pride and Shannon Boxx and Brittany Bock from the Los Angeles Sol. Poor Boxx and Bock flew through Denver and arrived without their bags (wonderful airport Denver, but why are bags always getting lost there?), but they'll get their stuff this morning well before training which is scheduled for 5 p.m. The U.S. team is scheduled to train once a day leading up to the match at BMO Field which will be played on the FieldTurf surface.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sports Envoys in Bolivia

Former U.S. Women’s National Team player Amanda Cromwell and former U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team coach Jay Miller traveled to Bolivia for a series of soccer clinics around the South American country as part of the first Sports Envoy program of 2009. Cromwell and Miller departed for South America last week, before returning stateside earlier this week.
Launched in 2006, the Sports Envoy program pairs U.S. Soccer with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs on a sports initiative that sends players and coaches from U.S. Soccer’s National Teams as State Department Sports Envoys to conduct clinics and spark a dialogue with local children around the world. Each program includes one male and one female Sports Envoy.
Cromwell and Miller arrived in La Paz, conducting clinics with local boys and girls in the Bolivian capital for four days. After working with historic clubs, including Boliva and the Strongest, Cromwel and Miller headed to Santa Cruz, the largest city in the country. The coaches conducted a few more clincs with local children at various soccer academies before coming back to the U.S. yesterday. Check out more information from the trip by visiting the embassy's Facebook page.