U.S. Women Face Scotland for First Time on Sunday in Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Friday, September 6, 2002) - The U.S. Women’s National Team has played 10 matches in 2002, but only three so far in the United States, those being a 7-0 victory over Mexico to open the year on January 12, a 3-0 win over Finland on April 27 in a match that saw the first ever full international goal from Abby Wambach, and a 4-0 win over Norway on July 21. The U.S. women are in their 18th year of competition and have played 277 full international matches. The USA has scored 903 goals over that span. The 900th goal was scored by Cindy Parlow against Norway in the USA’s last match. U.S. head coach April Heinrichs brought 23 players to Columbus for five days of training before she choose today’s roster of 18 players. The USA is 6-2-2 on the year with both losses coming to archrival Norway, 1-0 in Huadu, China on January 23 and 3-2 on March 5 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. Heinrichs will be using today’s match and this week of training as major testing grounds for choosing her team for the USA’s next event, the 2002 NIKE U.S. Women’s Cup, being held Sept. 29-Oct. 6 in Uniondale, N.Y. and Cary, N.C.
USA vs. SCOTLAND BROADCAST LIVE ON ESPN: The USA’s first-ever meeting with Scotland will be broadcast live on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET. Rob Stone, who came into soccer fans’ living rooms nightly during the 2002 World Cup on World Cup 2Nite and former U.S. international and 1991 Women’s World Cup champion Wendy Gebauer, will call the action.
FAIR ON THE VERGE OF 100: Midfielder Lorrie Fair will likely become the 14th U.S. player, and second youngest, to play in 100 games for her country if she steps on the field against Scotland on Sunday. Fair debuted on February 4, 1996, against Norway, and was a five-year member of the U.S. U-20 National Team before becoming a full-time player on the senior level. Her twin sister Ronnie, who plays for the New York Power, has three career caps.
SHE’S BAAAAAAACK… After missing four national team events, spanning nine matches, due to injury and her recovery from meniscus surgery on her left knee in late February, striker Mia Hamm returned to the national team for the USA’s match against Norway and played the second half, getting her 130th goal in the last minute of the game. The last time Hamm pulled on the U.S. jersey before that match, she scored twice in a 4-1 win over Germany on Sept. 9, 2001, in the first game of the 2001 NIKE U.S. Women’s Cup that would be cut short by the events of September 11. Hamm’s return to the Washington Freedom lineup at midseason sparked the team to a run to the WUSA championship game. She is the U.S. and world all-time leading scorer in women’s international soccer with 130 goals 109 assists in 220 games. She is one of only four women to have scored 100 or more international goals in their careers. Even more amazing, and often overlooked, is Hamm’s passing ability. Her 109 assists are 42 more than her closest U.S. teammate, Kristine Lilly.
MacGOALS: The USA has pumped in 24 goals in 10 games in 2002 and forward Shannon MacMillan has 11 of those. Cindy Parlow and Tiffeny Milbrett are tied for second in scoring this year with two goals each. The “Mac Attack” scored her first career hat trick on Jan. 12 vs. Mexico, went two games of the Four Nations Tournament in China without scoring, then tallied in five straight matches, scoring against some of the world tops teams in China, Sweden England, Norway (2) and Denmark (3). MacMillan scored an amazing seven of the eight U.S. goals at the 2002 Algarve Cup, with the other score notched by 19-year-old Kelly Wilson. MacMillan had her streak snapped on April 27 as she failed to scored in a 3-0 win over Finland at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif. and was also held goal-less in the USA’s 4-0 victory over Norway on July 21. This year, MacMillan has upped her career international goal total to 46, and moved into seventh place on the U.S. all-time scoring list. Throw in her 41 career assists and MacMillan’s 133 points puts her behind only scoring machines Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett and Carin Garbarra. While MacMillan has struggled a bit during her WUSA season with the San Diego Spirit, the USA will be looking to her for scoring punch to return as the team heads into two important tournaments this fall.
WORLD CHAMPIONS MAKE ANOTHER RUN: Although U.S. Women’s National Team legends Carla Overbeck and Michelle Akers have retired from international play, all the pre-1999 Women’s World Cup and pre-2000 Olympic talk of a mass exodus by the national team veterans has been put to the rest as the five remaining active players from the 1991 Women’s World Cup team are poised to make a run at their fourth Women’s World Cup. Brandi Chastain (34), Joy Fawcett (34), Julie Foudy (31), Mia Hamm (30) and Kristine Lilly (31) should form the core of the team that will attempt to qualify for the 2003 Women’s World Cup to be held in China. Should the U.S. navigate the relatively docile waters of CONCACAF qualifying, those players may have a chance to win a third Women’s World Cup in what surely will be their last attempt.
FAWCETT AND MILBRETT SIT THIS ONE OUT: Defender Joy Fawcett and forward Tiffeny Milbrett, two mainstays in the U.S. starting lineup, will both skip this match due to WUSA off-season commitments. Both should be back on the roster for the 2002 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup.
THE ROSTER: Of the 23 WUSA players called in by Heinrichs, only 11 are veterans of the 2000 Olympic Team, and that includes Christie Pearce and Siri Mullinix, two Olympic starters who both received their first call-ups of the year. The U.S. roster can loosely be divided into three groups: wily veterans, young professionals and rising stars still in college. Following is a look at the U.S. roster, broken down by positions.
THE ‘KEEPERS - The USA has gone “back to the future” with the return of Briana Scurry, who saw her first action since before the Olympics against Norway last July 21. Combine the wonderfully talented and experienced Scurry (104 caps) with LaKeysia Beene (24 years old), Hope Solo (21), and Olympic starter Siri Mullinix (24) and the USA just might have the best quartet of goalkeepers in the world. None of them tower over the opposition (Scurry and Solo are 5-9 while Beene and Mullinix are 5-8), but all play big in the penalty area. All are tremendously brave, have great hands and athletic ability and have the ability to make the big save. Solo, who has one of the best kicking games of any goalkeeper in the history of the U.S. National Teams program, is a senior this season at Washington and sure to be a high pick in the WUSA Draft. Beene, Mullinix and Solo each started for a U.S. Under-21 Nordic Cup championship team, showing that the USA’s youth teams are doing a fine job of producing talent for the full team. Beene, the All-WUSA First-Team goalkeeper in 2001, played a major role in helping the Bay Area CyberRays to the 2001 WUSA championship, saving Sun Wen’s penalty kick in the shootout to help win the championship. Mullinix was stellar this past WUSA season as her play was a key factor in the Washington Freedom’s run to the championship game.
THE BACKS - The USA’s back line for this event is led by two veterans in Brandi Chastain and Kate Sobrero, both starters in the 1999 Women’s World Cup and the 2000 Olympics. Olympic starter Christie Pearce gets her first call-up since suffering an ACL tear at the end of the WUSA season. At 26, Sobrero is just entering her prime and already has two world championship tournaments under her belt. Chastain has been the USA’s first-choice left back since 1996, but has also played in the middle of the defense of late and gives the USA tremendous depth and experience. Outside backs Jenny Benson and Heather Mitts, both 24, had excellent seasons for the Philly Charge where they play on opposite sides and add similar offensive and defensive qualities. Both will be looking to make an impact to move into the pack of talented defenders. This is Benson’s third call-up. Mitts has two caps, but could not play against Norway on July 21 after getting injured in a scrimmage, which caused her to miss several WUSA matches. The roster also features 28-year-old Thori Bryan, a member of the 1995 Women’s World Cup Team and an alternate on the 1996 Olympic Team. She has 59 caps and debuted for the USA way back in 1993. Also getting called back to the full National Team is Nandi Pryce, perhaps the most talented young defender in the country. The 5-foot-10 Pryce, whose brother Trevor is an All-Pro defensive lineman for the Denver Broncos, was a key player on the USA’s U-21 Nordic Cup championship team this summer (along with Solo) and has eight caps. She will play her junior season for UCLA this fall after missing almost all of her freshman year with a broken leg. Heinrichs has also called in San Jose CyberRays mainstay Kelly Lindsey, a rugged defender who earned all three of her caps in 2000.
THE MIDDIES - The marshal of the midfield, as always, will be Julie Foudy, along with her midfield buddy of the last 14 years, Kristine Lilly, perhaps the most complete midfielder in women’s soccer history, who returns to the fold after missing the July 21 Norway game due to commitments with the Boston Breakers. Olympic starter Lorrie Fair, who may become the 14th U.S. player to earn 100 caps today, has 99 caps at age 24. Angela Hucles, one of the revelations of the WUSA, is a player trying to work herself into the mix for the 2003 Women’s World Cup. She is fast and skillful and became one of the all-time leading scorers in Virginia history where she played for Heinrichs. Veteran Tiffany Roberts, who captained the Courage to the WUSA championship this year, gets another call-up. The 1995 Women’s World Cup, 1996 Olympics and 1999 Women’s World Cup veteran has 81 caps and six goals and first played for the USA at the age of 17 back in 1994. Jena Kluegel, the third pick in the 2002 WUSA Draft by the Boston Breakers, had a solid rookie season and her value is increased by her ability to play flank midfield and flank defender. Stacey Tullock is the only uncapped player on the roster. The first-round pick of the Philly Charge, she did not join the team until the summer after completing her studies at Arizona State and had a stellar rookie campaign, earning her first call-up to the full national team.
THE STRIKERS - While two-time U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year Tiffeny Milbrett is not at this camp, the Americans still have plenty of world-class forwards to throw at Scotland. Combine Mia Hamm with Shannon MacMillan and Cindy Parlow, the USA has perhaps three of the most dangerous strikers in the world. All are capable of exploding for multiple goals and have an understanding developed and nurtured while playing for the last seven years together on the national team. Parlow gives opponents at different look than the darting strikers, but her strength, skills and ability in the air make her just as difficult to contain. 2002 WUSA Rookie of the Year Abby Wambach also adds tremendous size and strength to the U.S. front line, as well as deft ball skills and great passing ability. With Wambach (5-foot-10) and Parlow (5-11), the USA has two of the biggest strikers in the world, both adept at playing back to goal and scoring with their heads.
FLEETING LEADS SCOTLAND: Scotland’s top player is captain Julie Fleeting, a talented forward who has scored more than 50 goals for her country despite being just 21 years old. Fleeting, who plays for the San Diego Spirit in the WUSA, the finest female player in Scotland’s history. A rising women’s soccer nation in Europe, Scotland recently won Group 5 in European Women’s World Cup Qualifying play. In the past, 16 top European teams would be divided into four groups to compete for a spot in the Women’s World Cup, while a lower tier of four more groups would compete to earn promotion into the upper tier. UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, recently voted to expand the upper tier to 20 teams, and Scotland, which took 15 points from its six qualifying games and edged Belgium on goal difference to win Group 5, earned promotion to this upper tier, thereby enabling them to attempt to qualify for the 2007 Women’s World Cup.
UP NEXT - AUSTRALIA, ITALY & RUSSIA IN THE 2002 NIKE U.S. WOMEN’S CUP: The prestigious annual Nike U.S. Women’s Cup kicks of in Uniondale, N.Y., on Sept. 29, and will include a pair of doubleheaders in Raleigh, N.C., on Oct. 2 and Oct. 6. The tournament, a four-team, six-game competition, will feature the U.S. Women’s National Team, as well as Australia, Italy and Russia. In the tournament’s opening match, the U.S. will take on Russia at the Mitchel Athletic Complex, the home of the WUSA’s New York Power, on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 4 p.m. ET (TV broadcast to be determined). The match will mark the third time that the U.S. Women have played at the 10,102-seat, Uniondale, N.Y. venue, having played a pair of matches (a 5-0 win over Denmark and a 2-0 win over China) there in the Goodwill Games in late July 1998. Tickets for the tournament opener, which is presented by Philips Electronics, range in price levels from $22 to $55 and are available starting tomorrow (August 23) at 12 noon ET at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the area (including The Wiz, Compact Disc World, Tower Records, HMV Record Stores and Filene’s) or by calling 631-888-9000 (Long Island) or 212-307-7171 (New York City). Tickets are also available on-line at www.ticketmaster.com. Groups of 20 or more can call the New York Power at 1-866/769-7849. From there, the tournament heads south to North Carolina, where the U.S. Women’s National Team will play two games as part of doubleheaders at the recently opened SAS Park, the home of the WUSA champion Carolina Courage, in Cary, N.C. The U.S. Women will take on Australia on Wednesday, Oct. 2 (presented by Chevy) at 7:30 p.m. ET live on ESPN2, and finish the tourney against Italy on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 2 p.m. ET live on ESPN2. Although the U.S. women have previously played matches in Charlotte, Davidson and Greensboro, N.C., the two October doubleheaders will mark the team’s first-ever international games in the Raleigh-Durham area and the first time that the team has played at the 7,000-seat, state-of-the-art venue. Tickets for the N.C. doubleheaders, which range in price from $18 to $55, are now available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas (including Kroger, Hecht's and FYE), by calling 919-834-4000 or going on-line at www.ticketmaster.com. For groups of 20 or more, call 312-528-1249. The U.S. Women will be using the 2002 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup as preparation for the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, which is set to take place at four venues along the West Coast from Oct. 27-Nov. 9 and will serve as the region’s qualifying for the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China next summer.
NIKE U.S. CUP OPPONENTS: The U.S. has a winning all-time record against all three of its U.S. Women’s Cup opponents, including a 13-0-0 mark over Australia in which the U.S. has outscored their Oceania counterpart 51-8. The U.S. is also undefeated against Russia, holding a 4-0-1 record and outscoring them 22-2. The U.S. has a storied history with Italy, including the U.S. Women’s National Team’s first ever match, a 1-0 loss on August 18, 1985. The U.S. holds a narrow 5-4-0 edge in nine all-time meetings, having lost the first three times the two teams met from 1985-1988. The U.S. dominated all five match-ups in the 1990s and 2000, outscoring the Europeans 15-1, but Italy handed the U.S. a 1-0 loss in their last meeting in March 2001 in Reiti as the USA field a team of mostly U-21 players.