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BEIJING 2008 : WOMEN'S SOCCER

Loss to Norway doesn't faze U.S.

August 08, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

Shannon Boxx and her U.S. Olympic soccer teammates have been to China enough times so that some of them have absorbed a Mandarin phrase or two.

"We learned xiexie, wo bu yao," the Redondo Beach midfielder and 2004 gold medal winner said the other day, "which means 'No, thank you.' So stop trying to sell me things!"

It will be Boxx who will have to do the selling Saturday as she and a handful of other veterans on the U.S. team try to make sure that an opening-game loss to Norway is not followed by a second-game loss to Japan.

Chances are, the Americans will rebound. The 2-0 defeat in Qinhuangdao on Wednesday did not leave them downcast. Rather, it seemed to fire them up, and they would have played Japan right there and then if they could have.

"Our heads are up," defender and team captain Christie Rampone said on U.S. Soccer's website. "We have to take away the positives from that game and move on. . . . I have confidence in this team and know we'll bounce back."

Kate Markgraf, a 10-year veteran of the national team, was quick to let the youngsters, some of whom were still preteens when she won a world championship in 1999, know that an early loss means little.

"Norway lost in the first game in 2000 and came back and won in the final," defeating the U.S. in overtime at Sydney, the three-time Olympian said. "We just have to take care of business and have great games against Japan and New Zealand. We believe we can do it."

Statistics showed that after giving up two goals in the first five minutes against Norway, the U.S. fought back hard, especially in the second half. It ended up outshooting the Norwegians, 20-12 overall and 11-6 in shots on target. The U.S. also forced four corner kicks compared to only one for Norway.

Coach Pia Sundhage said there was cause for optimism.

"Despite the fact that we gave up two bad goals in the beginning . . . I think the team did a great job coming back and creating chances," she said Thursday.

Sundhage said she was unlikely to change the starting lineup much, although one change could be forced upon her if injured defender Lori Chalupny has not recovered from a slight concussion.

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Jones reported from Los Angeles.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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