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Supporting cast achieves gold
by Paul Kennedy, August 22nd, 2008 7AM
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[ANALYSIS]With Mia Hamm and the other golden girls in retirement and Abby Wambach injured, the U.S. women's national team didn't have any big-name stars at the 2008 Olympics, but Coach Pia Sundhage put together a winning team with a collection of players who previously played supporting roles.

The best example is Angela Hucles, a reserve for much of her national team career who played every minute at the Olympics and finished as the top scorer on the tournament's highest-scoring team.

Only four starters on the USA's 2004 gold-medal team returned for the Beijing Olympics -- defenders Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf playing in their third Olympics and Shannon Boxx andLindsay Tarpley, starters in 2004 and 2008 in midfield.

Three Americans who played in the gold-medal game were playing college soccer last year -- meaning that the young American team should remain an international force for years to come. For complete player analysis ...

Note:Grades based on Soccer America Report Cards throughout the tournament.

USA-Brazil Game Coverage
USA-Brazil Report Card

Carli Lloyd(6 games, 600 minutes, 2 goals)
Grades:4+7+7+6+6+8=6.33 avg.
Ability to strike from distance won first Japan game and gold-medal game.

Christie Rampone(6 games, 600 minutes)
Grades:6+7+6+6+6+7=6.33 avg.
Captain was the highest rated defender, a steadying force in the middle of the backline.

Shannon Boxx(6 games, 600 minutes)
Grades:5+6+6+7+7+7=6.33 avg.
Struggled against Norway but another player whose performances improved in knockout phase.

Hope Solo (6 games, 600 minutes)
Grades:4+6+5+5+5+7=5.33 avg.
Certainly the player with the most to prove -- and came through with a big game in the final against Brazil.

Angela Hucles (6 games, 600 minutes, 4 goals)
Grades:4+4+6+5+8+4=5.17 avg.
Replaced Abby Wambach up front and scored team-high four goals.

Heather Mitts (6 games, 566 minutes)
Grades:6+7+5+5+6+6=5.86 avg.
Missed out on Women's World Cup in 2007, came back from knee injury to have solid Olympics.

Heather O'Reilly (6 games, 535 minutes, 2 goals)
Grades:5+7+8+7+7+6=6.67 avg.
Finished as the highest-rated U.S. player; athleticism a key to revived U.S. attack.

Kate Markgraf (5 games, 510 minutes)
Grades:4+5+DNP+6+5+7=5.40 avg.
Bad backpass cost USA second goal against Norway; her play improved as tournament went on.

Amy Rodriguez (6 games, 496 minutes, 1 goal)
Grades:4+5+6+6+6+6=5.50 avg.
Earned starting role in first Japan game and kept it.

Lori Chalupny (5 games, 434 minutes, 1 goal)
Grades:4+DNP+6+6+7+6=5.80 avg.
Returned from concussion suffered early in Norway game to show why she's best left back in women's soccer.

Lindsay Tarpley (6 games, 424 minutes, 1 goal)
Grades:3+5+7+5+6+5=5.17 avg.
A hero at 2004 Olympics, up and down in China.

Natasha Kai (6 games, 201 minutes, 1 goal)
Grades:4+NR+5+6+5+5=5.00 avg.
Benched after first game, won Canada game in overtime.

Stephanie Cox (5 games, 189 minutes)
Grades:4+6+5+DNP+NR+NR=5.00 avg.
Filled in for Rampone at left back.

Rachel Buehler (2 games, 97 minutes)
Grades:DNP+NR+6+DNP+DNP+DNP=6.00 avg.
Started for Markgraf in New Zealand game.

Lauren Cheney (3 games, 70 minutes)
Grades:DNP+DNP+DNP+5+NR+5=5.00 avg.
Effective in long spell off bench in final.

Tobin Heath (3 games, 69 minutes)
Grades:NR+5+DNP+5+DNP+DNP=5.00 avg.
Used early in the tournament late in games.

Ali Wagner (1 game, 14 minutes)
Grades:DNP+DNP+4+DNP+DNP+DNP=4.00 avg.
Came back from long layoff to make team.

Nicole Barnhart (0 games)
Backup keeper.

 

 

 



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