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U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. Gets Win in FCT Opener


WAMBACH SCORES TWICE, HELPS ON TWO OTHERS FOR 4-3 WIN IN FRONT OF 14,870: The U.S. Olympic hero Abby Wambach put on a dazzling display in front of a sold-out crowd in her hometown, scoring two first half goals on trademark headers and playing a part in the two other scores while leading the USA to a surprisingly dramatic 4-3 victory over Iceland in the opening game of the "Fan Celebration Tour." The win didn't come easy, as Iceland stormed back from a 3-0 deficit and stunned the home team and the crowd with three goals in a span of six minutes to tie the match in the 72nd minute. It took a tap-in goal from defender Heather Mitts after a goalmouth scramble in the last minute of stoppage time to decide the outcome. The crowd of 14,870 was the largest ever to watch a soccer game at Frontier Field and the entire evening was a tribute to the 24-year-old Wambach, who did not disappoint with her 19th and 20th goals of the year (in the 25th and 42nd minutes). During the USA’s next goal, Wambach received a ball from Hamm and backheeled it into her path, where No. 9 crushed a left-footed shot into the upper corner to make it 3-0 in the 52nd minute before Iceland staged its stunning comeback on a rebound goal and two impressive long-range blasts. The game-winning goal came off a last chance corner kick by 57th-minute substitute Shannon MacMillan from the left side. Wambach aggressively jumped high to head the ball down toward goal, where it fell at the feet of captain Julie Foudy, who pushed it towards the goal for Mitts to tap it in between two defenders. Wambach's 20-goal year is only the fifth in U.S. Women's National Team history, each by a different player. She joins a Hall of Fame-caliber group of Michelle Akers (39 in 1991), Mia Hamm (20 in 1998), Kristine Lilly (20 in 1999) and Tiffeny Milbrett (21 in 1999). She is the youngest player to accomplish this feat at 24 years, 3 months, 23 days. With two more goals, Wambach will log the second-highest scoring year in U.S. history.  Her 20-goals this year have come over the last 21 matches.
2004 U.S. WNT “Fan Celebration Tour”
Game    Date                    Match-up / Result          Venue                            City                               Kickoff (local)
   1        Sat., Sept. 25      USA 4, Iceland 3           Frontier Field                 Rochester, N.Y.            7:30 p.m. ET
   2        Wed., Sept. 29   USA vs. Iceland             Heinz Field                     Pittsburgh, Pa.               7:30 p.m. ET
   3        Sun., Oct. 3        USA vs. New Zealand    PGE Park                      Portland, Ore.               5 p.m. PT
   4        Sun., Oct. 10      USA vs. New Zealand    Paul Brown Stadium      Cincinnati, Ohio             4 p.m. ET
   5        Sat., Oct. 16       USA vs. Mexico            Arrowhead Stadium       Kansas City, Mo.           5 p.m. CT
   6        Wed., Oct. 20    USA vs. Ireland             Soldier Field                   Chicago, Ill.                   7:30 p.m. CT
   7        Sat., Oct. 23      USA vs. Ireland              Reliant Stadium              Houston, Texas              5 p.m. CT
   8        Wed., Nov. 3    USA vs. Denmark           Giants Stadium               East Rutherford, N.J.     7:30 p.m. ET
   9        Sat., Nov. 6       USA vs. Denmark          Lincoln Financial Field    Philadelphia, Pa.             4 p.m. ET ESPN2
   10      TBD                  TBD                               TBD                              TBD                              TBD

SIMUTENKOV PROVIDES GAME WINNER IN 95TH MINUTE, SECOND TITLE FOR WIZARDS: Igor Simutenkov's golden goal gave the Kansas City Wizards a 1-0 victory against the Chicago Fire in the final of the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and with the triumph on Sept. 22 at Arrowhead Stadium, they honored the club's investor-operator for which the tournament is now named. Simutenkov's free kick goal gave the Wizards the first Open Cup title and second overall championship (along with the 2000 MLS Cup) in the club's history. After an even match in regulation, the deciding goal came on a restart, as Kansas City pushed forward and earned a free kick 19 yards out on the far left side of the Fire goal after Evan Whitfield fouled Wolff who had received the ball on the break.  Simutenkov stepped up and hit a low rocket that streaked through the wall and surprised Ring, who could not get a full hand on the ball. The ball went off his hands, careened off the underside of the crossbar and bounced off his head before rolling over the goal line to give the Wizards possession of the Dewar Trophy and $100,000 in prize money.
Open Cup Final
#       Date            Result
39     Sept. 22      Kansas City Wizards (MLS) 1, Chicago Fire (MLS) 0 (OT)

PHILADELPHIA TO HOST U.S. WOMEN ON NOV. 6; TICKETS ON SALE NOW:  U.S. Soccer announced last week that the U.S. Women’s National Team’s highly anticipated “Fan Celebration Tour” will travel through Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday, Nov. 6, as the team meets Denmark at 4 p.m. ET.  Tickets ranging in price levels from $15 to $40 went on sale to the public on Sept. 25 through ussoccer.com, at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout the Delaware Valley (including Strawbridge's and Tower Records) and by phone at 215-336-2000. Tickets are available for purchase at the Lincoln Financial Field ticket office beginning today from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.  Philadelphia has hosted the U.S. Women just once before, when the U.S. crushed Nigeria 5-0 in the opening round of the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Sept. 25, 2003 in front of 31,553 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.  The U.S. has a 6-2-0 record in the state of Pennsylvania, having played previous games everywhere from Hershey to Bethlehem to Oakford. The U.S. has a 9-3-1 all-time record against Denmark that dates back to 1985, the first year of the U.S. Women’s National Team program.  The Danes were undefeated in the first three matches (a 2-0-1 record), but over the last 10 years the U.S. has owned the edge with a 9-1 record.

-- U.S. MNT WORLD CUP QUALIFYING UPDATE --

U.S. SITS ATOP GROUP 1, PLAYS FINAL ROAD MATCH ON OCT. 9 IN EL SALVADOR: Halfway through the six-game semifinal round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the U.S. Men’s National Team is sitting in first place in Group 1 with an undefeated 1-0-2 record.  Although they’ve done it in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion, the U.S. MNT has accomplished its goals in earning valuable points with two 1-1 road draws in Jamaica (Aug. 18) and Panama (Sept. 8).  In its lone home match, the U.S. dominated El Salvador 2-0 behind goals from forwards Brian Ching and Landon Donovan on Sept. 4 in Foxboro, Mass.  In its last match, the U.S. benefited from a case of déjà vu, overcoming a shaky second half to tie the game in the final minutes and earn an important point on the road, tying Panama 1-1 at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in its third match of the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The important point for the U.S. came via second-half substitute Cobi Jones, a veteran of three World Cups for the United States, who tied the game in the 92nd minute by poking home a miskicked shot from Donovan from eight yards out. The draw was similar to the U.S. MNT’s first road qualifier, in which forward Brian Ching headed home the equalizer in the 88th minute to draw with Jamaica 1-1 on Aug. 18. The draw extended the USA’s unbeaten streak to a team-record 10 games, besting two nine-game streaks for the United States previously recorded in 1991 and 1998. The U.S. is 6-0-4 during the streak and 6-1-5 overall in 2004.
MNT FIFA World Cup Qualifying Results
Date         Opponent     Venue; City                                                               Result     U.S. Goal Scorers
Aug. 18    Jamaica        National Stadium; Kingston, Jamaica                          1-1 T     Ching
Sept. 4     El Salvador   Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, Mass.                               2-0 W   Ching, Donovan
Sept. 8     Panama        Estadio Rommel Fernandez; Panama City, Panama     1-1 T     Jones
MNT FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule
Date        Opponent      Venue; City                                                        Kickoff (local)
Oct. 9      El Salvador   Cuscatlan Stadium; San Salvador, El Salvador     7 p.m. MT  
Oct. 13    Panama        RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C.                         7:30 p.m. ET  
Nov. 17   Jamaica        Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio                           7:30 p.m. ET  
Group 1 Standings
Teams            GP   W     L     T    GF   GA   GD    Pts.
USA               3      1      0     2      4      2      +2      5
Jamaica           3      1      1     1      5      3      +2      4
Panama           3      1      1     1      4      4        0      4
El Salvador     3      1      2     0      2      6       -4      3

– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

RONGEN NAMED HEAD COACH FOR CLUB DEPORTIVO CHIVAS USA: Former U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen was presented as the first coach for Club Deportivo Chivas USA, one of the two MLS expansion teams that will begin play in 2005, last Thursday (Sept. 23). It won’t be the first MLS stint for Rongen as the Dutch-born coach has held three coaching positions in six seasons, dating back to the league’s inaugural campaign in 1996 with Tampa Bay, where he led the Mutiny to a 20-12 record. A year later, he moved on to the New England Revolution for two seasons before replacing current U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena as head coach for D.C. United, where he led them to their third championship in his first of three seasons with the club. Under Rongen since Dec. 26, 2001, the Under-20 MNT produced an impressive showing at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. won their group for the first time ever and advanced all the way to the quarterfinals, coming within minutes of pulling off a huge upset against Argentina, falling in overtime 2-1.

U.S. PARALYMPIC TEAM COMPLETES PLAY AT 2004 ATHENS PARALYMPICS: The U.S. Men’s Paralympic Soccer team completed play at the 2004 Athens Paralympics with a 4-0 loss to Ireland on Saturday (Sept. 25) at the Helliniko Olympic Complex in Athens, Greece. The loss doomed the U.S. team to a tough last-place finish in the eight-team tournament. The lone bright spot of the tournament came in the 6-1 loss to the Netherlands, when Michael Peters scored the United States’ only goal of the tournament. The U.S. qualified for the 2004 Athens Paralympics, the premiere tournament for paralympic athletes, by finishing sixth at the Paralympic World Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina in October 2003. Paralympic soccer is played seven-a-side by athletes with cerebral palsy, who have survived a stroke or sustained traumatic brain injury.
Paralympic Team Schedule
Date          Opponent         Result    U.S. Goal Scorers
Sept. 19    Brazil                0-4 L    ---
Sept. 21    Russia               0-3 L    ---
Sept. 23     Netherlands     1-6 L    Michael Peters
Sept. 25    Ireland              0-4 L    ---

*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***

PEAK PERFORMER: Abby Wambach didn’t disappoint her hometown fans this past Saturday by scoring two goals and playing a part in the U.S. Women’s National Team’s other two goals as they squeaked out a 4-3 victory over Iceland in Rochester, N.Y., in the opening game of the “Fan Celebration Tour.” Wambach's two strikes give her 20 goals this year in 21 matches, joining just four other players to reach the 20-goal plateau in one year. With two more goals, Wambach will log the second-highest scoring year in U.S. history.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP: Site of FIFA Women’s World Cup games in both 1999 and 2003, PGE Park in Portland, Ore., will once again host the U.S. Women’s National Team, this time as part of the “Fan Celebration Tour,” as they will face New Zealand this Saturday, Oct. 3 at 5 p.m. PT. The match will be the WNT’s first at PGE Park since their 3-0 loss to Germany in the semifinals of the 2003 World Cup.

SOCCER SHOCKER: You’ve got to assume there were a few fans at Frontier Field on Saturday that left their seat for a hotdog or soda with the U.S. WNT ahead 3-0 only to return to find Iceland had tied the game with three goals in six minutes (67th, 68th, 72nd) during the second half. The three strikes, one off a rebound and two from long distance, were the quickest three goals scored against the U.S. WNT and only the 12th time three goals were scored against the U.S. in 334 all-time matches.

QUOTABLE:  "I was like every other girl my age. I had Mia's poster tacked to my bedroom wall. I wanted to grow up and be like her. She inspired me to dream."
          -- Abby Wambach after her two-goal performance against Iceland in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y., on Saturday in the U.S. WNT's 4-3 victory talking about how Mia Hamm, who also scored in the game off a Wambach assist, influenced her soccer career.

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