Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
USA looks past Wambach absence
by Ridge Mahoney, August 5th, 2008 7AM



The ultimate tests for an Abby Wambach-less U.S. women won't come until later in the Olympic soccer tournament, but starting out against traditional rival Norway in Qinhuangdao on Wednesday in may be a stiff enough challenge to a team abruptly deprived of its most potent weapon.

Regardless of how successful head coach Pia Sundhage has been in her quest to wean the team off from its reliance on her, and instill a more flowing, fluid attack, not until the 30th minute of its final tune-up match July 16 against Brazil had any real urgency set in. A clumsy challenge left Wambach with a fractured leg and the U.S. gold-medal hopes damaged as well.

Now the American women have no choice but to step forward, collectively and individually, to prove they can overcome yet another major injury. Already ruled out of the Olympics are midfielder Leslie Osborne and defender Cat Whitehill; it can be argued the U.S. has lagged behind Brazil and Germany with those players, logically, how can one assume the Americans will do better without them?

The answer is: Winning a gold medal depends on being the better team on the day once the knockout round begins. Rankings, reputations, and past results mean nothing. "Abby is a big loss for us, but we've also lost two other players with a lot of experience," says captain Christie Rampone. "We've been able to bounce back and work on new things. We've been changing our system and style all throughout the year in case something like this happened."

For the Americans, steeling themselves for what lies ahead begins in the group phase. They have three competitive games to work Wambach out of their play and their minds, and while Norway has slipped from its previous status as one of the world's top teams, it can be formidable with a rugged defense, tenacious midfield, and opportunistic counterattack.

"It's a good team, it's a team that is well organized and the set pieces are pretty good as well," says Sundhage. "One thing for sure we have to deal with well are their counter-attacks. For our attack, we have to mix it up a little bit. We will face an organized team and that is challenging."

The goalscoring has been spread around this year: Wambach tops the charts with 13 goals, yet Natasha Kai has hit 11, and Lindsay Tarpley is next with 10. Carli Lloyd has scored seven from her central midfield spot and her prowess at shooting from distance can help loosen up Norway, which packs players behind and around the ball.

On paper, the U.S. should romp, having beaten Norway twice this year by 4-0 scores, including a thumping in Fredrikstad in early July. Wambach scored two of those eight goals; netting one each were Kai, Lloyd, Tarpley, Heather O'Reilly, Amy Rodriguez and Angela Hucles. The U.S. has swept the last 10 meetings dating back to a 3-2 defeat at the 2002 Algarve Cup that marked the fourth straight time Norway had come out on top.

How the times have changed!

Lauren Cheney replaced Wambach on the roster; replacing her spirit, determination, aerial strength, and thirst for goals is a collective duty.

Nicole Barnhart (Gilbertsville, Pa.)
Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.)

Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.)
Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.)
Stephanie Cox (Elk Grove, Calif.)
Kate Markgraf (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.)
Heather Mitts (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.)

Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.)
Tobin Heath (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
Angela Hucles (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.)
Heather O'Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.)
Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.)
Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.)

Lauren Cheney (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Natasha Kai (Kahuku, Hawaii)
Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif.)


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Daily
What They're Saying: Bruce Arena    
"For the most part, the competition part of it is somewhat useless. I guess the part ...
Business Report: Michael Bradley signs with Puma    
U.S. national team midfielder Michael Bradley signed a long-term contract with Puma to wear its latest ...
USA-Mexico: Who's got the edge at each position    
Soccer is a team game, a collective test of 11-v-11, and in one of the biggest ...
NBC Deportes will air all 52 Under-17 World Cup games    
NBC Deportes will air all 52 games from the Under-17 World Cup, which kicks off Oct. ...
What They're Saying: Jason Kreis    
"I think that this is a tremendous challenge that we've embarked on and I'm not ready ...
What They're Saying: Stephen Flamhaft    
"They have not in any shape or form condemned Blazer. That's offensive to me. I'm a ...
Fox Sports and Univision ready for Concacaf Cup    
Saturday's USA-Mexico for the Concacaf Cup, on the docket for more than two months, will draw ...
Honduras stands in way of U.S. Olympic berth    
The USA, which failed to qualify for two of the last three men's Olympic soccer tournaments, ...
Video Pick: How the U.S. U-19s lost 8-1 to Germany    
It was a rough outing indeed for the U.S. defense and goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann in the ...
Video Pick: England coach impresses with ball puncture    
During England's preparations for Friday's European Championship qualifier against Estonia, goalkeeper coach Dave Watson impressed Joe ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives