US SoccerUS Soccer

Anniversary of First WNT Game


With U.S. Soccer always looking toward the future with World Cups, Olympics and Youth World Championships on the horizon, we’ve gone to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y., to create this section for a chance to pop it in reverse and look back at an interesting or enlightening part of U.S. Soccer’s history that you may have forgotten or possibly never knew. 

In the summer of 1985, about 70 women’s soccer players convened in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the Olympic Sports Festival. It would be the first time women’s soccer was included in the event. Unbeknownst to most of the players, they were heading for a genesis, a moment that would literally start the ball rolling towards the creation of a special group that would grow into the world’s greatest women’s soccer program, and eventually spawn the greatest women’s sporting event in history -- the 1999 Women’s World Cup.

Few of the players knew when they arrived in the Bayou that a team would be chosen from that competition…the first U.S. Women’s National Team. A “paper team” had been picked in 1982, 1983 and 1984, but those squads never got together or played a match. This time it would be different. Then head coach Mike Ryan selected a squad that trained at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University for several days before heading to Europe for a four-team tournament in Italy, dubbed the Mundialito or “Little World Cup.”

On Aug. 18, 1985, the U.S. Women’s National Team played its first-ever match, facing host Italy in Jesolo. Some details of the 1-0 loss are lost in time (although it seems that the USA played in a 4-4-2 formation, Michelle Akers did not play due to an ankle injury and the crowd was at least 4,000, if not more), but the significance of the match lives on. To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the historic game, ussoccer.com tracked down 10 of the 12 players who were on the field at the very beginning, bringing back the voices of the past to relive a vital part of soccer history.

The National Soccer Hall of Fame is located in Oneonta, N.Y., and celebrates the history, honors the heroes and preserves the legacy of soccer in the United States. For more information, log on to soccerhall.org.

DENISE BENDER: Reflections

DENISE BOYER (now Merdich): Reflections

STACEY ENOS: Reflections

LINDA GANCITANO: Reflections

CINDY GORDON: Reflections

TUCKA HEALY: Reflections

LORI HENRY:  Reflections

SHARON McMURTRY: Reflections

ANN ORRISON (now GERMAIN): Reflections

KIM WYANT: Reflections

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