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U.S. women begin World Cup preparations tonight in Omaha

Still got the international soccer itch? Scratch it tonight as the U.S. women’s national team (ranked 1st in the current FIFA women’s rankings) take on Sweden (ranked 4th) at Creighton University’s Morrison Stadium in Omaha, Neb. The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. tonight.

The two teams will also play Saturday night in Hartford (6:30 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel). The games are a chance for U.S. coach Pia Sundhage to make player evaluations as the team prepares for CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualification in October.

The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup is in Germany and will begin next year on June 26.

USA vs. Sweden Fast Facts:

These two teams last met in March of this year in the third and final group match at the 2010 Algarve Cup … The 2-0 victory saw two goals from Lauren Cheney and put the USA in the championship game, where it defeated Germany in sloppy conditions … The two teams met in the championship game of the 2009 Algarve Cup, a 1-1 tie that went directly to penalty kicks where the USA fell 4-3 … Sweden has several world class players and four that are current playing in the WPS in Jessica Landstrom of Sky Blue FC, Kosovare Asllani of the Chicago Red Stars, and Caroline Seger and Sara Larsson of the Philadelphia Independence … Three of the last six meetings have been one-goal wins for the USA … This will be the fourth and fifth meetings for Sundhage against Sweden and the USA is 2-0-1 in the games so far … The USA has one player who has played club soccer in Sweden in goalkeeper Hope Solo who for played for Kopparbergs/Göteborg in 2004 … Sweden will be without one of the world’s best wingers/forwards in Lotta Schelin, who plays her club ball in France with Olympique Lyonnais but is injured … Sweden has won five of its six 2011 Women’s World Cup qualifiers so far, while drawing one, and is in excellent position to win the group and earn a spot in the UEFA WWC qualifying playoffs … Sweden does have a tricky match left at the Czech Republic, a team they tied 0-0 during the qualifier in Sweden, and then a game to finish group play against Wales … Landstrom has scored six goals during those qualifiers, Seger has six and Asllani has two, meaning 14 of the Sweden’s 30 goals in its WWCQ campaign so far have been scored by players in WPS …Those numbers are a bit inflated by a 17-0 victory over Azerbaijan.

US Women’s Roster

GOALKEEPERS (3):

Nicole Barnhart (FC Gold Pride), Jill Loyden (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Atlanta Beat)



DEFENDERS (8):

Rachel Buehler (FC Gold Pride), Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt), Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Kate Markgraf (Chicago Red Stars), Heather Mitts (Philadelphia Independence), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Meghan Schnur (Sky Blue FC)



MIDFIELDERS (8):

Shannon Boxx (FC Gold Pride), Sarah Huffman (Washington Freedom), Kristine Lilly (Boston Breakers), Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Allie Long (Washington Freedom), Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Chicago Red Stars)



FORWARDS (5):

Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (California), Kelley O’Hara (FC Gold Pride), Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom)

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