Tonight US Soccer is replaying another classic USWNT friendly, this one from summer 2006 — it will stream on YouTube and Facebook starting at 7 pm CT, with a special pre-game chat with Kristine Lilly and Cat Whitehill starting at 6:30 pm CT. Below are a few of the Keeper’s Notes on the game. Be sure to watch this game all the way through to the end! It’s a nailbiter. And note that there are spoilers below.
This friendly was part of the USWNT preparations for the fall 2006 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, the tourney that served as qualifying for the 2007 Women’s World Cup. After a sparse 2005 schedule (only nine matches), the USWNT played a total of 20 matches in 2006 before the Gold Cup. This game versus Sweden was the first USWNT home match that year.
This era represented a fairly quiet time for women’s soccer in the USA, due to the retirements of several ’99ers in 2004 and 2005, plus the lack of a professional league. The WUSA had folded at the end of the 2003 season and the first season of WPS did not kick off until 2009. That’s a big reason why this game is played at a small venue, at the National Training Center in Blaine, Minnesota (see NERD NOTES below).
Sweden has been one of the most common opponents for the USWNT — the teams have faced off 40 times, including six times at the World Cup and twice at the Olympics. Sweden is the only team that has defeated the Americans in the group stage of a World Cup (2011), and was the only team to score more than one goal against the USWNT in 2006.
• Every member of this USWNT roster went on to play in the WPS, except for unused subsitute Marci Miller, who retired after the 2007 Women’s World Cup. Thirteen have played in the NWSL, with only Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd still active as of this season.
• This game marked the first USWNT home match for Christie Rampone (Pearce) after the birth of her first child in 2005. It was also the first home game for Cat Whitehill using her married name (maiden name Reddick).
• Look for a young (and likely brunette) Megan Rapinoe on the bench for this game. She did not take the field in this match, but went on to earn her first USWNT cap a week later against Ireland. Rapinoe missed out on the 2007 Women’s World Cup and 2008 Olympics due to two separate knee injuries.
• Kristine Lilly served as captain in this game … and scored the very late game-winner. Only Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd and Mia Hamm have recorded more game-winning goals than Lilly.
• Wambach scores the opening goal in this match – she did that 55 times in her USWNT career.
• At this point Hope Solo had started all but three of the USWNT’s 19 matches since Greg Ryan took over as head coach in early 2005, allowing just 3 goals in her previous 15 games.
• This roster represents a transitional era for Sweden, following a streak of reaching the semifinals of the 2003 Women’s World Cup (finished second to Germany), the 2004 Olympics (losing to Brazil in the semis) and the 2005 Euro (losing to Norway in the semis). Half of this game’s roster was part of the 2003 World Cup team that recorded the world highest finish in Swedish history (male or female).
• #11 Victoria Svensson was Sweden’s leading scorer at the 2003 Women’s World Cup, earning the Silver Ball.
• Look for #15 Therese Sjögran. She retired as Sweden’s all-time cap leader (214) after the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
• Four players from this Sweden roster would go on to play in the WPS: Carolina Jonsson (Chicago 2009), Sara Larsson (St. Louis 2009, Philadelphia 2010, Caroline Seger (Philadelphia 2010, Western NY 2011) and Sjögran (Sky Blue 2011).
• Coach Thomas Dennerby was in charge of Sweden from 2005 through the 2012 Olympics. He was head coach of Nigeria at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
• All but the first goal in this match are scored unassisted.
• Mia Hamm‘s 150th international goal was scored at this venue in 2004, in a friendly against Australia.
• “Blaine, Minnesota” may not sound like a soccer city but this suburb of Minneapolis plays host to the largest annual soccer tournament in the Western hemisphere. It can also boast about playing host to the first NINE home games for the USWNT, from 1986 to 1990. The women played four more matches at this venue (after the facility had been upgraded) between 2001 and 2006, but have not played there since. The field was once grass, but is currently artificial turf.
• The USWNT recorded its first-ever win at this venue, a 2-0 victory over Canada in July 1986. Marcia McDermott, current technical director for Sky Blue FC, scored the game-winning goal.