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U.S. Women’s National Team Set to Kick Off CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Against the Dominican Republic

The U.S. Women’s National Team will, for the first time, open a calendar year with qualifying matches for a world championship when it faces the Dominican Republic on Friday, Jan. 20, at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada.

© Perry McIntyre /isiphotos.com

Christie Rampone U.S. Soccer

IN THE IMAGE: The U.S. WNT is ready to kick off Olympic Qualifying in Canada, seeking a place at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The U.S. Women’s National Team will, for the first time, open a calendar year with qualifying matches for a world championship when it faces the Dominican Republic on Friday, Jan. 20, at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada. It will be the USA’s first meeting ever with the island nation and 14 th meeting with a team from the Caribbean, of which seven have been with Trinidad Tobago. All the U.S. group matches can be seen live on Universal Sports Network. U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage chose a 20-player roster for the competition after an extended training camp in December and a week of training in January, both at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The USA is hoping to play five matches in 10 days throughout the 2012 Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament that runs from Jan. 19-29, and fans can also follow the games via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and via online video at UniversalSports.com and CONCACAF.com.

All the matches in the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament will be held at BC Place, the first time this competition has been held indoors. The tournament will send its top two finishers to the 2012 Summer Olympics. The competition will feature two groups of four teams each, with the top two finishers in each group “crossing-over” for the all-important semifinals on Friday, Jan. 27. The winners of those semifinal matches will earn the region’s two berths to London. The USA was drawn into Group B and will open the tournament against the Dominican Republic, squaring off against the Caribbean nation for the first time ever on Friday, Jan. 20, at 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. ET. The USA will then face Guatemala on Sunday, Jan. 22 (4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 ET) and finish group play against Mexico on Tuesday, Jan. 24 (7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 ET). The championship game will be played on Sunday, Jan. 29. Host Canada heads Group A, which also features Costa Rica, Cuba and Haiti. Individual event tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster.

U.S. WNT Schedule – 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying
Group B

LEROUX RETURNS HOME: In a twist of fate more apt for the Hollywood screen, U.S. forward Sydney Leroux returns to her hometown – a hometown in Canada – to represent the USA in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. The 21-year-old Leroux made a qualifying roster for the first time at the senior level after excellent performances at training camps in December and early January and now returns to her hometown in hopes of helping the USA earn a berth to London. Born in Canada to a Canadian mother and an American father, Leroux played for Canada as a 14-year-old in the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup before coming to the United States for high school and to pursue her dream of earning a college scholarship and playing for the United States. Leroux switched international affiliations in 2008 and played in two FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups for the USA, scoring 10 goals over those two tournaments to become the all-time leading scorer for the USA at the U-20 level and in U-20 Women’s World Cups. She won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot in 2008 in Chile as the best player and top scorer at the tournament. She has just one cap for the full U.S. National Team, earned against Sweden in January of 2011 at the Four Nations Tournament in China. Leroux was taken first in the WPS Draft on Jan. 13 by the Atlanta Beat.

GOALKEEPERS (2): Nicole Barnhart (out of contract), Hope Solo (out of contract)
DEFENDERS (7): Rachel Buehler (Atlanta Beat), Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt), Amy LePeilbet (Atlanta Beat), Heather Mitts (out of contract), Kelley O’Hara (Atlanta Beat), Christie Rampone (out of contract), Becky Sauerbrunn (Sky Blue FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx (out of contract), Tobin Heath (out of contract), Lori Lindsey (Western NY Flash), Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (out of contract), Amy Rodriguez (out of contract)
FORWARDS (4): Lauren Cheney (out of contract), Sydney Leroux (Atlanta Beat), Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash), Abby Wambach (out of contract)


  • Of the 20 players on the Qualifying roster, 19 were on the 2011 Women’s World Cup Team. The only exception? Forward Sydney Leroux. 
  • Defender Ali Krieger is the only player on the roster who plays her club soccer outside the United States. Krieger plays for one of the strongest clubs in the world in FFC Frankfurt, although the team is currently in fourth place in the German Women’s Bundesliga. 
  • Just half the roster currently is affiliated with clubs (nine WPS and one in Germany) while the other half is waiting to work out their clubs’ contract status for this year. 
  • Forward Sydney Leroux is the only player on the roster who played college soccer this past fall. She was the top pick in the WPS Draft by the Atlanta Beat on Jan. 13. 
  • The U.S. Women’s National Team has gone 20-3-4 all-time in the first game of a calendar year dating back to the first-ever game in 1985. Until last January, the USA hadn’t lost an opener since 2001, a 1-0 setback to China in Panyu, China, but fell to Sweden in the 2011 opener by a 2-1 score at the Four Nations Tournament in China. The Americans still ended up winning the tournament. 
  • Forward Sydney Leroux and newly converted defender Kelley O’Hara are the only two U.S. players to make their first qualifying roster for a world championship at the senior level (Olympics or a World Cup). 
  • There are seven players on the roster with 100 or more caps, led by Christie Rampone’s 244, good for fourth all-time in U.S. history.
  • On Sept. 22, 2011, Lauren Cheney received her 50th career cap against Canada on Sept. 22 in Portland, Ore., making her the 40 th U.S. player to achieve that mark. She currently has 51. 
  • After Abby Wambach (125), the U.S. player on this roster who has the most career goals is Heather O’Reilly with 30. Carli Lloyd has 28. 
  • The USA’s 41 goals in 2011 were scored by 11 different players: Wambach (8), Lloyd (6), Morgan (6), Cheney (5), Amy Rodriguez (4), Heather O’Reilly (3), Rapinoe (3), Lindsay Tarpley (2), Boxx, Buehler and Heath (plus one own goal by Brazil in the Women’s World Cup). 
  • Five players scored their first Women’s World Cup goals this summer in Germany: Buehler, Cheney (2), Lloyd, Morgan (2) and Rapinoe.


  • Abby Wambach is the most successful American woman in Olympic qualifying history with eight total goals. Her five from 2004 is the most for a single tournament. She is also the only player on the roster to score in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic qualifying tournaments. 
  • Wambach’s 125 career goals puts her just five short of Kristine Lilly’s 130, which is second only to Mia Hamm’s 158 in U.S. history. 
  • The USA has never lost an Olympic qualifying match (8-0-1). The tie was in the championship game of the 2008 tournament that ended 1-1 through regulation and overtime before the USA prevailed over Canada in penalty kicks. 
  • Prior to the USA’s final match of the year against Sweden on Nov. 19, 2011, Abby Wambach had scored in six consecutive games: the final four during the Women’s World Cup and the two matches against Canada in September. That streak tied her all-time best (February to March 2004), but as she didn’t find the net against Sweden, she fell short of the team record held by Michelle Akers, who scored in nine consecutive games in 1991. 
  • Under Pia Sundhage, the USA is 19-1-2 against CONCACAF opponents, having scored 65 goals and allowed seven. 
  • The USA is 79-2-5 all-time when Wambach scores a goal. The most recent of those two losses came in the Women’s World Cup against Sweden. 
  • Heather O’Reilly’s career has 30 goals and 30 career assists, making her one of just ten 30-30 players in U.S. history. The others? Julie Foudy, Carin Gabarra, Shannon MacMillan, Cindy Parlow, Michelle Akers, Tiffeny Milbrett, Abby Wambach, Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm.



  • Friday marks the first matchup between the USA and the Dominican Republic. Heading into this tournament, the U.S. has yet to face DR and Cuba, who are competing in Group A. 
  • The Dominican Republic is in search of its first Olympic qualification.

RECAPPING 2011: The USA opened 2011 with a 2-1 loss to Sweden at the Four Nations Tournament in Chongqing, China, and finished the year with a 1-1 draw against the long-time European power. In between it was quite a dramatic year for the U.S. women. The U.S. team had a 13-3-4 record overall in 2011, and the year included the dramatic run to the World Cup Final in Germany. The losses came in the first game of the year to Sweden, in an April friendly to England and in the Women’s World Cup to Sweden. Two ties came in the Women’s World Cup as the USA’s penalty kick win over Brazil and penalty loss to Japan both count officially as ties. The USA’s two post-Women’s World Cup matches against Canada in September – a 1-1 tie and a 3-0 win for the USA – featured the Women’s World Cup roster.

LONDON CALLING: The U.S. will be attempting to qualify for a fifth consecutive Olympic Games and finish in first place at CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying for the third consecutive time . In 2008, the USA won the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico and went on to win the gold medal in Beijing. In 2004, the U.S. won the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Costa Rica and went on to win gold in Athens, Greece. The U.S. qualified for the 1996 Atlanta Games as host and for the 2000 Sydney Games as a top-seven finisher at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The USA was the lone CONCACAF representative at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, the first two that featured women’s soccer. Mexico qualified along with the USA for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, while the Canadians claimed the second spot behind the U.S. in 2008 in Beijing.

NINE IN, THREE TO GO: Nine teams have already qualified for the 12-team Olympic Football Tournament: host Great Britain; Japan and North Korea from Asia; Cameroon and South Africa from Africa; Brazil and Colombia from South America; and Sweden and France from Europe. New Zealand will likely earn Oceania’s lone berth, which leaves just the CONCACAF entrants to be decided.


  • Head coach Pia Sundhage is in the midst of her fourth full year in charge of the U.S. Women’s National Team. Below are some of her accomplishments as a player and coach. 
  • Sundhage is the sixth official coach and second female coach in the history of the U.S. Women’s National Team program. 
  • Sundhage’s record as head coach of the Women’s National Team is 68-5-9, with 185 goals for and 43 against. 
  • As a player, Sundhage was one of the game’s best-ever players, finishing sixth in the voting for FIFA Women’s Player of the Century. A legendary player in Sweden, she played for her country in the 1991 and 1995 Women’s World Cups and 1996 Olympics. She scored four goals for Sweden at the 1991 Women’s World Cup, helping the Swedes to a third-place finish. She scored one goal in the 1995 Women’s World Cup (against Germany) and played every minute of all three matches at the Atlanta Olympics. 
  • Sundhage started her coaching career while still playing, serving as player-coach for Hammarby from 1992-1994. She also coached Sweden’s Youth National Teams for 11 years from 1990-2001, coaching the U-16s, the U-19s and U-21s. 
  • After her retirement from the international game in 1996, she became head coach of the Sweden Under-19 Women’s National Team, leading the team to one gold medal and two bronze medals at the European Championships. She served as a scout for Sweden during the 1997 European Championships, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2000 Olympics. Sundhage has also worked for FIFA on its Technical Study Group staff for the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand. 
  • Since taking over as head coach, Sundhage has given 18 players their first senior team caps.

FIRST-EVER GAMES IN B.C.: During the Olympic qualifying tournament, the U.S. women will be playing their first-ever games in Vancouver and, in fact, have played very few matches in Canada since the inception of the program. Even though the USA has played Canada 50 times, only four of those matches have taken place IN Canada. Twenty-eight games have been played in the USA, with the rest of them on neutral grounds around the world. The last time the USA played in Canada was May 25, 2009, a 4-0 U.S. victory in Toronto in what was the first match for now ex-coach Canadian coach Carolina Morace.

GAMES INDOORS: The U.S. team has played a handful of matches indoors over the years, the first coming on June 21, 1993, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., in what was a test run for the indoor grass that would be used a year later for the 1994 World Cup. The most recent game inside for the USA also came in Detroit, but this was at the spectacular Ford Field on Dec. 17, 2008, a 1-0 victory over China.

Federación Dominicana de Fútbol / The Dominican Football Association
Founded: 1953 (Joined FIFA in 1958)
Head Coach: Rufino Sotolongo
Best FIFA World Cup Finish: Never qualified
Best CONCACAF Championship finish: Qualified for finals in 2012


  • This is the first time the Dominican Republic has qualified for the CONCACAF finals of Olympic Qualifying. 
  • The Dominican Republic qualified by winning its Caribbean Zone A group without allowing a goal, defeating Dominica by a 3-0 score, Bermuda 1-0 and TT 1-0. 
  • The Dominican Republic posted a 17-0 victory over the British Virgin Islands in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying on Oct. 5, 2007. The 17-goal advantage ranks third all-time behind Cuba’s 21-0 pasting of the British Virgin Islands just two days prior on Oct. 3, 2007, and behind Guatemala’s 18-0 rout of Belize on Nov. 19, 2003. 
  • Ana Frias is tied for fourth in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying for having scored four goals in a game on Oct. 5, 2007. Three other teammates had hat tricks in the Dominican Republic’s 17-0 victory that day: Yohana Martinez, Raynelsa Peralta and Olivia Santana. 
  • Following Friday’s match, the Dominican Republic faces Mexico on Sunday, Jan. 22, followed by Guatemala on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Isairis Isabel Minaya (Universidad OM), 12-Heidy Salazar (Barcelona FC)
DEFENDERS (6): 5-Ana Odaliza Diaz (Bayaguana), 6-Yesenia Sencion De Maria Lopez (Barcelona FC), 2- Carmen Miguelina Polanco (Valverde Mao), 14-Amanda Rodriguez (El Seybo), 4-Lissi Maria Sanchez (El Seybo), 3-Denny Vargas (Barcelona FC)
MIDFIELDERS (9): 7-Loida Michel De Jesus (Nueva Generacion), 20-Ana Brenda Frias (San Cristobal), 16-Katherine Rodriguez, 13-Leonela Mojica (Universidad OM), 19-Gabriela Peña (Moca), 15-Jocelyn Raquel Rodriguez (Barcelona FC), 8-Diana Elizabeth Santana (El Seybo), 18-Oliva Santana (Universidad OM), 17-Johanna Santelis (Barcelona FC)
FORWARDS (3): 9-Anajaira Maciel Caudio (La Vega), 10-Yaqueisi Alexandra Nuñez (Nueva Generacion), 11-Betzaida Ubri Mateo (Universidad OM)

On the field for USA:
Nov. 19, 2011 – University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Ariz. – International Friendly

USA   1   Tobin Heath, 81
SWE   1

USA: 18-Nicole Barnhart; 11-Ali Krieger (2-Heather Mitts, 46), 19-Rachel Buehler, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (14-Stephanie Cox, 74); 9-Heather O’Reilly, 10-Carli Lloyd, 7-Shannon Boxx, 8-Amy Rodriguez (17-Tobin Heath, 46), 12-Lauren Cheney; 20-Abby Wambach (13-Alex Morgan, 74)
Subs not used: 6-Amy LePeilbet, 16-Lori Lindsey, 21-Jill Loyden
Head coach: Pia Sundhage

SWE: 12-Kristin Hammarström; 2-Emma Berglund, 3-Linda Sembrant, 4-Annica Svensson, 6-Sara Thunebro; 17-Lisa Dahlkvist, 18-Nilla Fischer (capt.), 14-Johanna Almgren (22-Louise Fors, 61); 10-Sofia Jakobsson (20-Susanne Moberg, 87), 9-Jessica Landström (16-Madelaine Edlund, 75), 8-Lotta Schelin
Subs not used: 1-Hedvig Lindahl, 5-Marina Pettersson Engström, 7-Sara Larsson, 13-Emmelie Konradsson, 19-Jessica Samuelsson
Head coach: Thomas Dennerby

CAPTAIN CHRISTIE: Point Pleasant, N.J., native Christie Rampone is in her fourth year as captain for the USA and will now begin the final stretch of her brilliant international career, which will end following the 2012 Olympics, should the Americans qualify. The 36-year-old mother of two has announced that she will retire from international soccer after London, and the U.S. players would love nothing more than to send her out on top. She led the team out of the tunnel for the first time as captain on Jan. 16, 2008, against Canada in Pia Sundhage’s first game as head coach and has worn the captain’s armband 64 times (including once when she got her 100 th cap), leading the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics and to the championship game of the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Rampone is fourth all-time in caps for the USA with 244 and passed Joy Fawcett last summer in Germany. She missed a few games at the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010 due to pregnancy and recovery from the birth of her second daughter. She is just the fifth women to captain the USA in a Women’s World Cup following April Heinrichs (1991), Carla Overbeck (1995 1999), Julie Foudy (2003) and Kristine Lilly (2007).


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