U.S.-Sweden Showdown Set For Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Saturday, Sept. 20, 2003) - It has been four years since Brandi Chastain nailed the winning penalty shot of the 1999 Women's World Cup, ripped off her jersey and became a cultural icon. In less than 24 hours, Chastain and the rest of the U.S. Women's National Team embark on another journey as the USA takes on Sweden in its opening match of the 2003 Women's World Cup at RFK Stadium. Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. and the match will be televised live by ABC and TeleFutura. The U.S. women held a spirited 45-minute training session at RFk this morning and selected players met with the media in the afternoon. Check out today's notes on the U.S. WNT and read quotes from head coach April Heinrichs, Mia Hamm, Briana Scurry, Cat Reddick, Tiffeny Milbrett and Chastain.
Sep. 20, 2003
U.S. WOMEN’S WORLD CUP FIRST-ROUND SCHEDULE
Date Venue Opponent Kickoff / TV
Sept. 21 RFK Stadium Sweden 12:30 p.m. ET/ ABC, TeleFutura
Sept. 25 Lincoln Financial Field Nigeria 7:30 p.m. ET/ ESPN2, Galavison
Sept. 28 Columbus Crew Stadium North Korea 3:45 p.m. ET / ABC, TeleFutura
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP TEAM HAS 12 ’99 VETERANS: April Heinrichs named the 2003 U.S. Women’s World Cup Team on Tuesday, Aug. 26. Leading the way are four players who are poised to play in their fourth Women’s World Cup in team captains Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett, the world’s all-time leading scorer Mia Hamm (142 goals) and the world’s all-time appearance leader Kristine Lilly (255 caps). Hamm, Lilly and Foudy have played in all 18 of the USA’s Women’s World Cup games. Overall, Heinrichs selected 12 players who were on the USA’s historic 1999 WWC Team and 13 that were on the USA’s 2000 Olympic Team. Of the 20-player roster, four are set to play in their third Women’s World Cup tournament (Brandi Chastain, Tiffeny Milbrett, Tiffany Roberts and Briana Scurry), four made their second Women’s World Cup Team (Shannon MacMillan, Cindy Parlow, Christie Pearce and Kate Sobrero) and eight players will be Women’s World Cup debutantes (Shannon Boxx, Kylie Bivens, Angela Hucles, Siri Mullinix, Cat Reddick, Danielle Slaton, Aly Wagner and Abby Wambach).
MIRMacULOUS: U.S. forward Shannon MacMillan made a somewhat miraculous comeback from ACL surgery to make her second Women’s World Cup Team. MacMillan tore the ACL in her right knee playing for the San Diego Spirit on May 18. The forward was playing some of the best soccer of her life and had scored four times against Canada on April 26 to move her career goals total to 58. MacMillan had surgery two days after the injury and worked extremely hard in her rehabilitation, suffering no setbacks. Her hard work paid off when Heinrichs named her to the 2003 Women’s World Cup Team and on Sept. 1 she played 20 minutes against Costa Rica just 102 days after surgery. MacMillan made the Women’s World Cup team three months after her surgery from an injury that generally takes at least six months to heal. MacMillan served as the team nanny for Joy Fawcett’s three daughters, Maddie, Carli and Katey, on the two national team trips while she rehabbed her knee, but is now back and ready to contribute to the USA’s Women’s World Cup run.
ONE MORE TIME: Although U.S. Women’s National Team legends Carla Overbeck and Michelle Akers retired from international play in 2000, all the pre-1999 Women’s World Cup and pre-2000 Olympic talk of a mass exodus by the national team veterans was just talk, as the five remaining active players from the 1991 Women’s World Cup team are poised to make a run at their third Women’s World Cup title. Brandi Chastain (34), Joy Fawcett (35), Julie Foudy (31), Mia Hamm (31) and Kristine Lilly (31) should form the core of the team that will attempt to win the 2003 Women’s World Cup in what will surely be their last attempt. When the Women’s World Cup was moved, the U.S. veterans lost out on what might have been an emotional chance to finish where they started as the five first stamped their mark on international soccer in China, winning that inaugural WWC in 1991. Briana Scurry (31), Tiffeny Milbrett (30), Christie Pearce (28), Kate Sobrero (27), Tiffany Roberts (26) and Cindy Parlow (25) are also a part of a group of veterans who have done it all at the international level and will give the USA loads of experience at the WWC.
MILBRETT CLOSES IN ON 100 CAREER GOALS: The U.S. Women’s National Team features three of the top 10 scorers in the history of international women's soccer in Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Tiffeny Milbrett. Although the U.S. WNT schedule has been greatly reduced due to the WUSA, both Milbrett and Lilly have a shot at hitting the 100-goal mark achieved by just four other women’s players in history. At 30, and in her prime, Milbrett has a good chance to not only reach 100 career goals, but perhaps even catch Elisabetta Vignotto of Italy (107) to become the second greatest international scorer in history behind Mia Hamm. Currently at 239 caps, Hamm is the second most-capped player in the history of soccer, men or women. She is U.S. Soccer's all-time leading scorer with 142 goals and 116 career assists (by far a team record) for 400 points.
U.S. TEAM WILL TRAVEL TO PHILADELPHIA ON SUNDAY NIGHT: Following the match against Sweden on Sunday, Sept. 21, the U.S. team will travel to Philadelphia. The USA is scheduled to train, weather permitting, on Monday, Sept. 22, and Tuesday, Sept. 23, both at 11 a.m., at Talbot Field at the Chestnut Hill Academy; 500 Willow Grove Ave.; Philadelphia, PA; 19118; Tel. 215.247.4700. (The training at Chestnut Hill Academy is a change from the originally announced site at LaSalle College). There will be approximately 30 minutes of player and coach availability to the media following each training session. For an up-to-the minute update on the USA's training schedule and media availability, please call the voicemail of U.S. press officer Aaron Heifetz at 619/278-3182.
2003 USA WNT BY THE NUMBERS:
0.40 -- Goals allowed per game allowed by the USA in 2003
2 -- Number of goals needed for Tiffeny Milbrett to reach 100
2.53 -- Average goals per game in 2003
3 -- Decades in which Lilly, Chastain, Fawcett, Foudy and Hamm have appeared for the National Team
5 -- Number of U.S. players to score 60 or more career goals
6 -- Most goals in 2003, by Shannon MacMillan and Mia Hamm
7 -- Most assists in 2003, by Aly Wagner
8 -- Number of players on the USA’s 20-player roster that have scored in a Women’s World Cup
9 -- Number of players on the U.S. roster from California
12 -- Times in the last 100 matches that the U.S. Women’s National Team has been shutout.
12 -- Number of players on the USA’s 20-woman roster who have played in a Women’s World Cup
13 -- Most starts in 2003, by Kate Sobrero
15 -- Number of Women’s World Cup matches won by the US
16 -- Years that Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Julie Foudy have been playing international soccer
47 -- Career international caps of U.S. head coach April Heinrichs
61 -- Career shutouts of Briana Scurry
116 -- Career assist for Mia Hamm, a world record
142 -- Career international goals for Mia Hamm, a world record
255 -- World record for caps or Kristine Lilly
258 -- Career points of Kristine Lilly, who is second all-time
20,437 -- Number of minutes played for the USA by Kristine Lilly in her international career, or over 338 hours
U.S. Head Coach April Heinrichs
On whether the veterans are thinking about this being their last World Cup…
"Julie (Foudy) has established the tone and did it long ago. She didn’t want this to be all about the veterans last hurrah, but rather about the World Cup, this team and these players. I think when your captain sets the tone like that it doesn’t have an effect."
On whether Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach will start up front…
"I think we have a lot of combinations we can put up front. Cindy Parlow and Tiffeny Milbrett are a good combination. Shannon MacMillan and Mia are a good combination. We played the University of Virginia men’s team about five days ago and our best attacking scheme was with MacMillan and Tiffeny Milbrett up front, so I like all the combinations we have. Certainly, Mia and Abby have good chemistry, which you can never underestimate. They understand where each other is going to be after playing together with the Washington Freedom."
On how she will choose the starting 11…
"We have a lot of different players that can play at different positions depending on our needs. We may need a more athletic background, a more defensive background, or maybe a backline that needs to get forward. We’ve got various players to put in to fit any situation."
Forward Mia Hamm
On how important the opening game against Sweden is…
"I think it is extremely important. Depending on the result, you can put yourself in a good position or put yourself behind the eight ball. The first game sets the tone for the tournament. It doesn’t mean if you take a hit you can’t rebound in the second game, but it puts a lot more pressure on you. At the same time, for us we just need to look at it one game at a time and Sweden is going to be a true test for us."
On controlling your emotions…
"I remember walking into the stadium during the 1996 Olympics and looking up to see my sisters in the stands and all of them were crying. Now, I’m walking out for the first game and I’m crying. I’m like, ‘what the heck is going on.’ That’s not the way I want to walk onto the field. You want to use it to your advantage, but at the same time you don’t want those emotions to overwhelm you."
On scoring the first goal in the 1999 World Cup…
"It was great for a lot of reasons in terms of my confidence and for the team. There were a lot of expectations. We were in a stadium with 60,000 plus people in the stadium and you don’t want to disappoint. To get the goal when we did allowed the team to just play after that. We calmed down a bit more and knocked the ball around better. It took some pressure off."
On if the tournament is going to be more competitive than years past…
"I think it is going to be a lot more competitive. Every team has improved, and invested more resources and time into their teams. You see that with regards to the level of play out there. Just the results across the world when you hear about teams like North Korea beating China it’s not as much as a surprise. Four years ago, we would have been going, ‘Wow, what happened to China.’ But, now the parody is there and every game is highly contested."
On possibly playing up front with Abby Wambach…
"Right now we don’t know who’s starting, but regardless of whose is up there, I think the players that go out there will do their best. If it’s Abby, she’ll bring that same passion, love and pride she plays with every game. If it is the two of us then we will try to do what we can to help our team win. I feel very fortunate to play with her for the past two years (in WUSA). Now that she’s on the national team it gives us another huge weapon."
On the improvement of other country’s women’s national teams over the years…
"It shows the progress of the game in the world. It shows that federations are seeing the value in the women’s game and not only in their women’s national team, but their youth national teams as well. The girls are getting high level international experience at a younger age that they will bring into the national team. When you are in a World Cup, you want to see a high level from every competitor you play and you are going to see that in this World Cup. That’s what so exciting about it."
Midfielder Kristine Lilly
On getting ready for Sweden…
"We know Sweden is a great team. They are very technically sound, very organized and as a team they are going to be strong. We just need to go back to our team and focus on what we need to do to win."
On the better quality of teams this year and what the U.S. will need to do to win…
"We have to play good soccer. We have to finish our chances and play like we always do. This World Cup is not any different than the other years. The teams have always been great, but I think women’s soccer has grown worldwide and that’s what is making this World Cup even more exciting for fans. The teams are even better and it is better for the sport."
Defender Catherine Reddick
On what the emotion of the team is like…
"When we got into D.C., the emotions just went up. I feel like tomorrow we are going to get to that peak and I’m not sure what the emotion will be because I’ve never actually experienced a World Cup. But, I do know that the emotions will be so high, we’ll be so excited and it will be a lot of fun."
On how she is feeling…
"I’m just excited to be here. I never thought that in my lifetime another World Cup would actually be in the U.S. My first World Cup experience will be right here in the nation’s capital. I don’t think we could be anymore ready as a team and I we’re all excited to play."
On being the youngest player on the team…
"As a kid I looked up to these girls. I wore number 11 just like Julie Foudy did, because I just loved her and she was one of my favorite players on the team. Now I am playing with her. I don’t get to wear number 11 because I’m playing with Julie, but it is just amazing. It’s such an incredible experience and has taught me so much. My soccer has matured so much more while I’ve played with these girls. They are so professional in the way they handle everything and how they play. It is a different level."
Defender Brandi Chastain
On this being her last World Cup…
"People have been asking about this being our last World Cup and how we are feeling. That’s great to talk about, but let’s talk about it after. We are here to enjoy this World Cup, to enjoy each other. Thinking about it before it is over is premature. That is the attitude of this team."
On how this core group of players has stuck together over the years…
"I don’t know the answer to how it has happened. We’ve just been incredibly fortunate. The timing has been really good."
On the veterans being able to stay so competitive…
"I think most people would find it surprising, but I know the character and the competitive nature of these individuals and it’s what drives them. Whether it’s playing cards or dancing to Mia’s cardio-salsa video. It doesn’t matter; everyone wants to be the best. I think we’ve all found our niche, where we can truly challenge ourselves and at the end of a hard days work we can feel better than we started."
Goalkeeper Briana Scurry
On what your reaction will be if you start tomorrow…
"There will be some emotion tomorrow if I’m starting. I’ve been working at this for the better part of two years now and my goal was to be on the field on Sept. 21 for our first game against Sweden. It that happens tomorrow it will be incredible."