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Lilly is invited to training camp, ready to earn 300th cap.
U.S. coach Greg Ryan will assemble 28 players January 3 for a week-long training camp at Home Depot Center in preparation for the trip. The Americans will take 20 players to face Norway January 18, France January 20 and China January 22 in the Four Nations' round-robin format. All U.S. games will kick off at 3 a.m. (ET) and will be played at Guangdong Olympic Center built in 2001.
The trip marks the fifth time the Americans have traveled to China in January for the Four Nations tournament, winning in 1998, 2003 and 2004, while also participating in 2002. The event always features four of the top teams in the world and this tourney is no exception. In the current rankings by world governing body FIFA, the U.S. is second, Norway third, France fifth and China ninth.
Including two exhibitions in 2001, the Americans will have traveled to China in six of the last nine years after their January excursion.
The Americans' Four Nations opener against Norway January 18 provides Lilly a chance to reach her milestone. She already is the world leader in international matches played for women or men with 299. She made her first appearance at age 16 in a 2-0 victory over host China on August 3, 1987.
Should Lilly earn her 300th cap in the Four Nations opener, it will mark the 30th time she has played against the Norwegians, who defeated the U.S. on the way to the Women's World Cup title in 1995 and the Summer Olympics gold medal in 2000. The Americans downed Norway to win the 1991 Women's World Cup (in Guangzhou) and in 1996 en route to Olympic gold.
Lilly, who has started every U.S. match in the four Women's World Cups and three Olympic Games, has 104 career goals, fifth best all-time for women. She has started 288 of her 299 international games.
Of the 28 players invited to the training camp, nine were members of the 2004 Olympics gold-medal side, including goalkeeper Briana Scurry and defender Christie Rampone, both of whom return after a year away from the national team. Rampone took the year off to have her first child in October. Scurry, the U.S. starter five of the last six world championship (WWC or Olympics) tournaments, pondered retirement after the 2004 Olympics, but now wants to play in the 2007 Women's World Cup.
The training roster also features the three top American scorers from 2005 -- strikers Christie Welsh (seven goals, one assist), Abby Wambach (four goals, five assists) and Danielle Fotopoulos (four goals -- as well as forward Tiffeny Milbrett, who has 100 career goals.
The U.S. went 8-0-1 in 2005 and did not concede a goal, extending its shutout streak to 928 minutes, dating back to December 2004.
The other 2004 Olympic gold medalists are midfielders Shannon Boxx, Lindsay Tarpley and Aly Wagner, striker Heather O'Reilly and defender Heather Mitts. Boxx was in Zurich, Switzerland, earlier this week for the FIFA World Player Gala where she was honored for finishing third in the balloting for "Women's World Player of the Year." The award was won by Germany forward Birgit Prinz for the third year in a row.
Twelve of the 28 players are 23-years-old or younger, including defenders Amy LePeilbet, 23, and Lori Chalupny, 21, both of whom played their first significant minutes for the U.S. in 2005.
Several young midfielders are also looking to challenge veterans Lilly, Boxx and Wagner for playing time. Tarpley, along with Leslie Osborne and Carli Lloyd, are up and coming.
Ryan also called in three players from the 2005 NCAA Division I champion University of Portland -- defender Stephanie Lopez, midfielder Angie Woznuk and forward Megan Rapinoe. All three were members of the U.S. team that finished third at the 2004 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship in Thailand.
In addition to Rapinoe, Ryan called in three other players seeking their first cap, Women's United Soccer Association veteran midfielder Stacey Tullock and two college stars -- defender Kendall Fletcher (North Carolina) and striker India Trotter (Florida State).
Marci Miller, a defensive midfielder who made her first two international appearances in 2005, was also named to the roster.
Additionally invited were Jill Oakes, who anchored a UCLA back-line that racked up 18 shutouts in 2005 and Tina Frimpong, who scored 42 goals for University of Washington in her college career, but is being converted to defense.
Ryan summoned four goalkeepers, including Hope Solo, who posted seven of the nine U.S. shutouts in 2005.
In their last meeting, the U.S. dropped Norway 4-1 in the 2004 Algarve Cup championship game in Portugal. The fifth straight win over the Norwegians evened the all-time series at 18-18-2 and provides the Americans an opportunity to take the lead in the series for the first time since 1990, when the U.S. held a 3-2 advantage.
The U.S. last faced France in 2005, winning 1-0 in the opening game of the 2005 Algarve Cup on a goal from Welsh. The Americans have won all nine confrontations with the French.
The U.S. last met China August 1, 2004, winning 3-1 in the final match before departing for the 2004 Olympic Games The Americans lead the all-time series 14-8-10, but are 2-3-5 in China.
The U.S roster for the January 3-9 training camp at Home Depot Center:
Goalkeepers (4): Nicole Barnhart (Gilbersville, Pa.), Jenni Branam (Placentia, Calif.), Briana Scurry (Minneapolis), Hope Solo (Richland, Wash.).
Defenders (8): Lori Chalupny (St. Louis), Kendall Fletcher (Cary, N.C.), Tina Frimpong (Vancouver, Wash.), Amy LePeilbet (Crytsal Lake, Ill.), Stephanie Lopez (Elk Grove, Calif.), Heather Mitts (Cincinnati), Jill Oakes (west Hills, Calif.), Christie Rampone (Point Pleasant, N.J.).
Midfielders (9): Shannon Boxx (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Carli Lloyd (Delran, N.J.), Kristine Lilly (Wilton, Conn.), Marci Miller (St. Charles, Ill.), Leslie Osborne (Brookfield, Wisc.), Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Stacey Tullock (Phoenix), Aly Wagner (San Jose, Calif.), Angie Woznuk (San Diego).
Forwards (7): Danielle Fotopoulos (Altamonte Springs, Fla.), Tiffeny Milbrett (Portland, Ore.), Heather O'Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), Megan Rapinoe (Redding, Calif.), India Trotter (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Abby Wambach (Rochester, N.Y.), Christie Welsh (Massapequa Park, N.Y.).
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