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!