U.S. Women’s National Team’s head coach April Heinrichs has named the 18-player roster that will face Mexico on Sunday, May 9, at University Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M., in the USA’s second domestic match of 2004 and the second of six games across the country before the team leaves for Greece in early August. The match will be broadcast live at 1 p.m. MT (3 p.m. ET) on ESPN2.
Heinrichs will bring the same 18 players to New Mexico that were on the final roster for the USA’s 5-1 win over Brazil on April 24 in Birmingham, Ala., in the first domestic match of 2004. This will be the first-ever match for U.S. Women’s National Team in New Mexico and will mark the 30th state, along with the District of Columbia, that has hosted a U.S. women’s game.
The U.S. roster, chosen from 30 players currently in Olympic Residency Camp in Los Angeles, features the usual mix of veterans and young, emerging talent. U.S. captain Julie Foudy, who scored her 44th career goal against Brazil on April 24, leads the way along with Kristine Lilly, the world’s most capped player, 68-career goal scorer Cindy Parlow, and Women’s World Cup and Olympic gold medal-winning goalkeeper Briana Scurry. Shannon Boxx, a member of the 2003 Women’s World Cup All-Star Team, was also named to the roster along with midfielder Aly Wagner.
Mia Hamm, the world’s all-time leading scorer, continues to terrorize opposing defenses as she has added four goals in 10 games this year, increasing her career total to 148. The second-most capped player in history behind Lilly with 255 games played, Hamm has also upped her career assist total to 131 with nine assists so far this year.
Wambach has been on a torrid scoring run in 2004 having pounded in a team-leading 11 goals in her last 10 matches, a streak exceeded only by a then 25-year-old Michelle Akers, announced yesterday as a new Soccer Hall of Fame inductee, who scored 39 goals in 26 games in 1991. Wambach scored twice in the USA’s 5-1 win over Brazil in the USA’s most recent match.
Heinrichs also named Tarpley, who is the USA’s second-leading scorer in 2004 with seven goals, her first scores for the full Women’s National Team. Lori Chalupny (20 years old) and Heather O’Reilly (19), Tarpley’s teammates with USA’s 2002 Under-19 World Champions and part of the “next generation” of U.S. women’s stars, were also named to the roster. Also named was forward Christie Welsh, a former Hermann Trophy winner from Penn State, who has 13 goals in 22 caps for the full National Team after scoring against Brazil on April 24 in her first game for the USA since April of 2002.
Heinrichs named five defenders to the roster in veterans Brandi Chastain, Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf, as well as rising stars Cat Reddick and Heather Mitts, who has started nine of the USA’s 13 matches so far this year, the most of any defender behind Reddick and Markgraf. Goalkeeper Kristin Luckenbill, who earned her first career cap against Brazil on April 24, joins Scurry as the two goalkeepers on the roster.
Mexico is experiencing a high point in its women’s soccer history, having qualified for the 2004 Olympics with an emotional 2-1 win over Canada in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament played in Costa Rica in March. Mexico rode two goals from superstar Maribel Dominguez, and some scrappy defense late in the match, to pull the stunning result against Canada, which was 15 minutes away from playing in the 2003 Women’s World Cup Final last October. The win ended the Canadians’ dreams of Athens and sent Mexico to its first Olympics.
The USA is 12-0-0 all-time vs. Mexico, but the most recent meeting in the championship of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Tournament was perhaps the most exciting game ever between the two countries. The USA went down 2-0 to Mexico after just 15 minutes as Dominguez, formerly of the Atlanta Beat in the WUSA, scored two lighting strikes. Twenty-year-old midfielder Lindsay Tarpley pulled a crucial goal back on a header just before halftime and then the U.S. came out after the break on a mission, peppering the Mexican goal with shots until Abby Wambach equalized on a brilliant solo effort just 11 minutes from the end of the game. U.S. captain Julie Foudy then dramatically won the match in the 84th minute, striking a rebound through goalmouth traffic, off the right post and into the net to give the USA the regional title.
Mexico is one of the most improved women’s soccer countries in the world since becoming the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for a Women’s World Cup in 1999. (Mexico is also the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for the women’s soccer tournament in an Olympics). Mexico’s plays an exciting style featuring an extremely united mixture of Mexican-Americans and homegrown talent. Dominguez, who put her team on her back and led them to an Olympic berth with an amazing nine goals in qualifying, is Mexico’s most dangerous player, but UCLA star Iris Mora also adds some feistiness to the attack. Goalkeeper Jennifer Molina has proven to be one of the best in her country’s short women’s soccer history. Mexico’s captain is former Notre Dame and Boston Breakers player Monica Gonzalez, who marshals a physical rugged defense that features Elizabeth Gomez and Rubi Sandoval. Head coach Leonardo Cuellar, who was a star for the Mexican National Team and in the North American Soccer League, has gotten the team fitter and playing with more confidence, meaning the match between the two Olympic-bound teams should be entertaining and competitive.