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U.S. Faces Costa Rica in Semifinal to Determine Berth to 2012 Olympic Games

The U.S. Women’s National Team did its part by winning Group B play of the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament. But all the chips are on the table when the USA faces Group A runner-up Costa Rica in a semifinal match on Friday, Jan. 27, at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET). The winner earns a place in the 2012 London Olympics.

© Thomas Eisenhuth/isiphotos.com

Abby Wambach

IN THE IMAGE: Abby Wambach (r) of team USA celebrates during the FIFA Women’s World Cup at the FIFA Stadium in Dresden, Germany on June 28th, 2011.

USA, COSTA RICA VYING FOR OLYMPIC BERTH: The U.S. Women’s National Team did its part by winning Group B play of the 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament. But all the chips are on the table when the USA faces Group A runner-up Costa Rica in a semifinal match on Friday, Jan. 27, at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET). The winner earns a place in the 2012 London Olympics. The match will be broadcast live on Universal Sports Network. Fans can also follow the game via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, on Twitter @ussoccer_wnt and via online video at universalsports.com and CONCACAF.com. The U.S. rolled through the group stage, outscoring the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Mexico by a combined 31-0 margin over three victories.

CANADA, MEXICO MEET IN SEMIS: Following the USA’s match against Costa Rica on Friday, Group A winner Canada and Group B runner-up Mexico battle in the other semifinal match to determine who will be the second qualifier for the 2012 London Olympics. The tension-filled match is expected to draw a large crowd. Mexico knocked Canada out of the 2004 Olympics during CONCACAF Qualifying and Canada did the same to Mexico for the 2008 Olympics. Canada is coming off a 5-1 victory against Costa Rica on Monday to win Group A. The semifinal winners advance to the championship game on Sunday, Jan. 29 (5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET), at BC Place which will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network with a re-air on the Universal Sports Network (delayed 11 p.m. ET). Individual event tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster.

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

Group B / Semifinals / Championship

* The U.S.-Costa Rica semifinal winner will play either Canada or Mexico in Sunday’s final

ON USSOCCER.COM: Read about the USA’s 4-0 victory against Mexico and watch the players’ post-game remarks.

GOALKEEPERS (2): Nicole Barnhart (out of contract), Hope Solo (out of contract)
DEFENDERS (6): Rachel Buehler (Atlanta Beat), 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)


  • The U.S. Women’s National Team has scored 31 goals in its first three matches against the Dominican Republic (14-0), Guatemala (13-0) and Mexico (4-0) to win Group B of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament. 
  • There are seven players on the roster with 100 or more caps, led by Christie Rampone’s 247, good for fourth all-time in U.S. history. 
  • After Abby Wambach (129), the U.S. player on this roster who has the most career goals is Heather O’Reilly with 34. Carli Lloyd has 33 and is coming off a hat trick against Mexico on Tuesday. There are 15 U.S. women who have reached the 30-goal mark. 
  • Wambach has played just 160 minutes so far in the tournament and should be well-rested for the semifinal. 
  • Goalkeeper Hope Solo and Christie Rampone are the only players who have played every minute of all three games so far.


  • Abby Wambach is the most successful American woman in Olympic qualifying history with 12 total goals. She is also the only player on the roster to score in all three Olympic qualifying tournaments in 2004, 2008 and 2012. 
  • The USA has never lost an Olympic qualifying match (10-0-1). 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. 
  • The USA is 81-2-5 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 has 34 career goals and 33 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.


0 Number of goals allowed by the U.S. in 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying

1 World ranking of the U.S. Women’s National Team

5 Number of goals scored in a game by Sydney Leroux (Jan. 22, 2012), Amy Rodriguez (Jan. 20, 2012), Abby Wambach (Oct. 23, 2004), Tiffeny Milbrett (Nov. 2, 2002), Michelle Akers (Nov. 24, 1991) and Brandi Chastain (April 18, 1991)

6 Number of multi-goal efforts by U.S. players in 2012 (Wambach has a pair of two-goal games)

11 Number of players who have recorded a goal in 2012

31 Number of U.S. goals in 2012 over three games

40 Number of U.S. goals in 2011 over 20 games (this number does not factor in an own goal vs. Brazil)

55 The current unbeaten streak for the USA in domestic matches in which they are 49-0-6

100 Number of minutes Wambach averages between goals

129 Career goals by Wambach, putting her third on the USA’s all-time list at age 30 and fourth all-time in world history – she is three goals behind Kristine Lilly (130)

130 Number of minutes that Mia Hamm averaged between goals

194 Players who have earned a cap for the U.S. Women’s National Team since the program’s inception in 1985, the most recent being Whitney Engen, who earned her first cap against Norway at the Algarve Cup on March 4

216 Number of goals scored during head coach Pia Sundhage’s 84 games as U.S. WNT head coach


  • Friday marks the seventh matchup between the U.S. and Costa Rica, and it has been a lopsided series as the USA has a 7-0-0 record and has outscored Costa Rica 34-0 over the years. 
  • The two teams first met on June 25, 2000, and the USA posted a dominant 8-0 victory during the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky. Midfielder Nikki Serlenga got the start and produced a hat trick as the team rested five of its regular starters. 
  • The past four appearances between the USA and Costa Rica have all been during either Olympics or World Cup qualifying. 
  • The U.S. topped Costa Rica 4-0 on March 3, 2004, to qualify for the Olympics in Athens, Greece. Kristine Lilly had a goal and an assist, and the USA out-shot Costa Rica 20-1. Costa Rica did not put a shot on goal. 
  • The USA posted a 3-0 win against Costa Rica on April 9, 2008, in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. The two teams were scoreless heading into halftime, but Natasha Kai turned things around with two second-half goals and an assist on Heather O’Reilly’s score. 
  • In 2010, the U.S. Women posted a 4-0 win over Costa Rica to win Group B at CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Nov. 1, then topped Costa Rica 3-0 on Nov. 8 in the third-place match at the World Cup Qualifying Tournament. It was the latter win that set up the USA’s two-game playoff against Italy and eventually a berth in the World Cup.

USA: The U.S. posted three straight shutouts in group play to secure first place in Group B. USA 14, Dominican Republic 0: The USA trounced the Dominican Republic on Jan. 20, setting a U.S. record for goals scored in a game. The previous record was 12, set in 1991 during back-to-back 12-0 wins against Mexico and Martinique. Amy Rodriguez posted a second-half, five-goal effort in the USA’s group opener to tie an individual game record set previously by Brandi Chastain (1991), Michelle Akers (1991), Tiffeny Milbrett (2002) and Abby Wambach (2002). Heather O’Reilly contributed three goals and three assists, Lauren Cheney had four assists and Wambach had two goals. The record-setting night had a bitter taste, however, as U.S. defender Ali Krieger suffered a torn ACL and MCL and is expected to miss at 6-8 months … USA 13, Guatemala 0: The U.S. Women blanked Guatemala on Jan. 22. Vancouver native Sydney Leroux earned her second cap (she played just five minutes in her first) and produced five second-half goals in her 45 minutes of work as the USA clinched a spot in the qualifying semifinals. Wambach had the USA’s first two goals in the 12th and 14th minutes to increase her career goals total to 129, surpassing Germany’s Birgit Prinz for third all-time behind only USA legends Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly … USA 4, Mexico 0: The USA earned first place in Group B with a win against Mexico on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Carli Lloyd netted a hat trick, and O’Reilly added an eighth-minute goal.

COSTA RICA: Costa Rica’s road to Friday’s semifinal dates back to last year, as the U.S., Canada and Mexico were automatic qualifiers for this competition. On Oct. 6, 2011, Raquel Rodriguez Cedeno netted three second-half goals to lead Costa Rica to a 5-2 win against Guatemala that sent the Ticas to the finals of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament for a third straight time. Costa Rica 2, Cuba 0: On Thursday, Jan. 19, Saudy Rosales and Wendy Acosta each tallied a goal to open qualifying with three points in Group A play. Rosales tallied the first Costa Rica goal in the 12th minute, and Acosta gave the Ticas some wiggle room with a 54th-minute goal for a two-goal lead … Costa Rica 2, Haiti 0: On Saturday, Jan. 21, Acosta continued to produce on the offensive end as she tallied two second-half goals to pace Costa Rica to a win and guarantee a semifinals appearance in the qualifiers. Acosta gave the Ticas a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute with a 20-yard, left-footed strike. She then added a header goal in the 57th minute … Canada 5, Costa Rica 1: On Monday, Jan. 23, Canada halted Costa Rica’s momentum as it suffered a loss on Tuesday, Jan. 24, to settle for second place in the group. Canada tallied four straight goals, then benefited from a Costa Rica own goal in the 50th minute to take a 5-0 lead. Fernanda Barrantes finally got Costa Rica on the scoreboard with an 89th-minute goal past Canada goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc.

LONDON CALLING: The U.S. is 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.

PIA SUNDHAGE FACT FILE: 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 71-5-9, with 216 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.

Federacion Costarricense de Futbol / Costa Rican Football Federation
Founded: 1921 (Joined FIFA in 1927)
Head Coach: Karla Aleman
Best FIFA World Cup Finish: Has not qualified
Best Olympics Finish: Has not qualified


  • Wendy Acosta leads Costa Rica with three of the team’s five goals during the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament. She singlehandedly produced the offense for a 2-0 win over Cubs on Jan. 19. 
  • Costa Rica’s Katherine Alvarado did not play against Canada after suffering a concussion in the team’s second group-stage game against Haiti. 
  • Daniela Cruz was unavailable against Canada because of a knee injury.

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1- Julieth Arias, 18-Erika Miranda
DEFENDERS (7): 5-Diana Saenz, 6-Karol Sanchez, 8-Daniela Cruz, 12-Lixy Rodriguez, 14-Marianne Ugalde, 19-Fabiola Sanchez, 20-Wendy Acosta
MIDFIELDERS (5): 2-Saudy Rosales, 3-Yendry Villalobos, 7-Mariela Campos, 15-Cristin Granados, 16-Katherine Alvarado
FORWARDS (5): 4-Fernanda Barrantes, 9-Carolina Venegas, 10-Shirley Cruz, 11-Raquel Rodriguez, 17-Adriana Venegas

EXTRA TIME IN VANCOUVER: Studio 90 Extra Time is covering the WNT in Vancouver as the team looks to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London. ussoccer.com’s popular video series gives a unique look at the team with interviews and off-the-field fun. Extra Time has already put up seven segments while in Canada, including a memorable snowball-throwing contest between Shannon Boxx and Christie Rampone as well as the debut of a game show called “Who Knows Megan Best?” Be sure to watch Studio 90 Extra Time throughout the tournament in Vancouver and follow @studio_90 on twitter.

Studio 90 Extra Time in Vancouver
Abby Wambach: Pt. 1 – Interview | Pt. 2 – Childhood Memories
Shannon Boxx: Pt. 1 – Interview | Pt. 2 – Snowball Throwing Contest
Lori Lindsey Megan Rapinoe:Pt. 1 – Interview | Pt. 2 – Who Knows Megan Best?
Christie Rampone: Pt. 1 – Interview | Pt. 2 – Reece Race

BEHIND THE CREST IS BACK: ussoccer.com’s one-of-a-kind look at the U.S. National Teams has returned in 2012. After debuting last summer during the Men’s National Team’s run through the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Women’s World Cup in Germany, “Behind the Crest” is back to follow the WNT through its qualifying tournament in Canada. The first episode goes behind the scenes of the team’s preparations for the first game against the Dominican Republic, with the players eager to begin 2012 on the right foot with the goal of making it to London.

Behind the Crest: WNT in Vancouver
Ep. 1: Ready to Compete
Ep. 2 Staying Focused
Ep. 3 (airs Jan. 27)

On the field for USA:
Jan. 24, 2012 – BC Place Stadium – Vancouver, Canada – CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying
USA    4    Carli Lloyd, 7, 59, 86; Heather O’Reilly, 8
MEX    0

USA: 1-Hope Solo; 19-Rachel Buehler, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 6-Amy LePeilbet; 9-Heather O’Reilly, 10-Carli Lloyd, 7-Shannon Boxx (16-Lori Lindsey, 77), 8-Amy Rodriguez (14-Sydney Leroux, 46), 12-Lauren Cheney; 20-Abby Wambach (15-Megan Rapinoe, 61)
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 5-Kelley O’Hara, 13-Alex Morgan, 17-Tobin Heath, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head coach: Pia Sundhage

MEX: 1-Cecilia Santiago; 3-Marlene Sandoval, 4-Alina Garciamendez (8-Marylin Diaz, 73), 5-Bianca Sierra, 6-Natalie Garcia Mendez; 13-Jennifer Ruiz, 15-Rosario Saucedo, 10-Dinora Garza (7-Teresa Noyola, 66), 17-Veronica Perez; 9-Maribel Dominguez (capt.), 11-Monica Ocampo (18-Christina Murillo, 59)
Subs not used: 2-Arianna Romero, 12-Anjuli Ladron De Guevara, 16-Anisa Guajardo, 19-Monica Alvarado, 20-Chrystal Martinez
Not eligible: 14-Renae Cuellar


Related Topics

U.S. Women

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