Tuesday, April 10, 2007

US Women's National Team Head to Foxboro

Fresh off the capture of their fifth Algarve Cup, the US Women’s National Team will arrive in Foxboro this week in preparation for its match vs. Mexico on Saturday afternoon. The team, which was recently awarded the number 1 spot in the FIFA World rankings after their success in Portugal, will be playing a series of friendlies and send-offs during the coming months, all in preparation for the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in China, taking place from September 10-30.

Saturday will mark the first time the club has played in Foxboro-area in over three years. The last time the club graced the now-absent Gillette Field grass was October 1, 2003, when they defeated Poland 1-0 during the Women's World Cup quarterfinals at Gillette Stadium.

For those of you unfamiliar with some of the players, here's who to watch for come Saturday.

Carli Lloyd: Perhaps the player who achieved the most individual success during the Algarve Cup tournament, Lloyd, who was previously held to one goal in 24 caps, went on a goal-scoring heist, tallying four goals in four games, making her one of the most dangerous players on the US side.

Aly Wagner: One of the most skilled players on the squad, Ally has been a consistent performer since her arrival in 1999, after having witnessed the success of Pasadena. The 26-year-old midfielder recently tallied her 100th cap in a friendly vs. Canada on July 30, 2006. The creative 111-cap midfielder has been an integral part of the team’s successes since their USA ’99 coming out party, and continues to help anchor one of the best midfields in the world.

Hope Solo: The heir apparent to legendary WNT keeper Briana Scurry, Solo has performed remarkably well during the past two seasons, including a ridiculous 1,054 minute goal-less streak set back in 2006. Additionally, she had a particularly impressive Four Nations tourney back in January, in which she was named Best Goalkeeper after allowing only one goal. Nevertheless, trying to fill the shoes of Scurry is a monumental task - a task that Solo has proven she can undertake.

Kristine Lilly: Talk about longevity and consistency and you are bound to mention the name. The crafty vet only seems to get better with age, as the club captain recently notched career goal number 119 during the Algarve Cup proceedings. A native New Englander (Wilton, CT), Lilly also starred for the Boston Breakers during the initial incarnation of the WUSA from 2001-2003.She is also one of the last key members of the '99 WC-winning squad that still currently playing.

Abby Wambach: Perhaps one of the best players in the world, Wambach has scored an astonishing 68 goals in 88 career caps with the WNT. Her best year came in 2004, when she not only scored 31 total goals, but scored the game-winner in extra time vs. Brazil during the gold medal game in during the 2004 Summer Olympics. She was named was named U.S. Soccer's Female Player of the Year for 2003.

Additionally, the club is guided by manager Greg Ryan, who has yet to lose in regulation since taking over as gaffer in 2005.

Granted, this is not the same legendary team led by Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Michelle Akers that throngs of the sports-viewing public became so familiar with after their amazing 1999 World Cup triumph. But don't be fooled; although many of the "name" players have retired, this squad is not only supremely talented, but collectively young enough to where its success can be forecasted for years to come as well.

The WNT match vs. Mexico, which will kick off at 5:00pm, is the first game of a soccer doubleheader taking place at Gillette Saturday. In what promises to be an eventful evening filled with top-notch soccer all being played on the same turf, the Revolution will continue the festivities by squaring off against MLS-expansion team Toronto FC at 7:30pm.

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