CHICAGO (Tuesday, March 30, 2004) — U.S. Soccer announced today that the U.S. Women’s National Team will take on Australia at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., on Wednesday, July 21. The match, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. CT, will mark one of the team’s final matches prior to the 2004 Athens Olympics in August.Advance tickets ranging in price levels from $20 to $50 will be available for purchase starting tomorrow with a private sale to U.S. Soccer’s registered fan membership group via ussoccerfan.com (free registration available at ussoccerfan.com).
Tickets go on sale to the general public next Thursday, April 8 at 10 a.m. CT at all Minnesota and Wisconsin area Ticketmaster outlets, including Rainbow Foods, Dayton’s, Hy-Vee Foods, Marshall Field’s and Mervyn’s California. Tickets are available by phone by calling one of the following numbers – 651-989-5151 (Minneapolis); 218-727-2121 (Duluth); 507-625-7919 (Mankato); 507-252-1010 (Rochester); 320-253-3131 (St. Cloud) – or visiting ussoccer.com. Groups of 20 or more can get a $2 discount and avoid per ticket convenience charges by calling the National Sports Center at 763-785-5601. [Click here for complete ticket information].
Blaine, Minn., has played an important part in the history of the U.S. Women’s National Team, hosting 12 matches, the most of any city in the country, including the first seven domestic matches ever played by the U.S. WNT. The USA last played at the NSC in July 2002, notching a rousing 4-0 win over Norway that started the current five-game winning streak against the reigning Olympic champions. The USA has not lost in Blaine since 1987, posting an undefeated 5-0 mark at the NSC.
The match in Blaine will likely mark the return of U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry to her home state. Scurry, a native of Dayton, Minnesota, is far and away the most successful women’s soccer player in the history of the state. She has played in 133 matches for the USA and holds virtually every goalkeeping record in U.S. history, while started at the 1995, 1999 and 2003 Women’s World Cups as well as in the 1996 Olympics.
"It's going to be great coming back to my home state," said Scurry, who was a high school All-American at Anoka Senior High School. "This will be the first time that my parents have seen the team play in person since the 1999 Women's World Cup and the fans in the Twin Cities have always been very supportive of the national team. We're excited to bring to team to Minnesota and once again get to play at the wonderful National Sports Center complex."
The match will serve as important Olympic preparation for both the USA and Australia, who punched its ticket to Athens after scoring 17 goals while allowing zero over two qualifying matches against Papua New Guinea and Fiji in early March. The only team which got an easier path to Athens was perennial South American champion Brazil, the USA’s April 24 opponent in Birmingham, Ala., who got a free pass to the Olympics after the South American confederation choose not to stage a qualifying tournament.
Australia, qualifiers for the last three Women’s World Cups, features several former WUSA players including captain Joanne Peters and hard-nosed defender Dianne Alagich.
The USA has had great success against “The Matildas,” winning all 14 matches ever contested between the two teams, most recently at the 2002 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup, a 4-0 win in Cary, N.C. Australia has scored more than one goal against the USA just once in those 14 matches.
The U.S. qualified for Athens 2004 by posting a perfect 5-0 mark at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Costa Rica. After rolling through Group B play, the U.S. Women earned their berth with a 4-0 semi-final win over the host nation. In the tournament final, the U.S. found themselves down 2-0 to Mexico after 15 minutes, but battled back to claim the regional championship 3-2. The trophy was the team’s second of the year, having picked up the top hardware at the Four Nations Tournament in China.
Just 10 days ago, the U.S. Women earned its third trophy in as many months, posting a 4-0 win over Norway on March 20 to claim the 2004 Algarve Cup, a 12-team annual tournament in the southern region of Portugal. With the tournament title, the U.S. improved its record to 10-1-1 in 2004.