CHICAGO (May 9, 2008) – The U.S. Women’s National Team will travel to Europe for friendly matches for the first time since 2001, facing Norway in Fredrikstad on July 2, followed by an intriguing clash with Sweden in Skelleftea on July 5.
The match in Sweden will mark the return of U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage to her native country and will be the first time she has faced Sweden while coaching the United States.
“Of course, it will be an interesting trip for me personally before and after the Sweden game, but during the match my focus is entirely on the U.S. team and how we can keep improving,” said Sundhage, who played 146 times for Sweden, including two FIFA Women’s World Cups and one Olympic Games. “The most important thing about this trip is that we are getting two excellent games in difficult conditions just a month before the Olympics begins.”
The U.S. women travel to Portugal every March for the Algarve Cup, and of course played in the 2004 Olympics in Greece, but these two games will be the first friendly matches the USA has played in Europe since a game against Italy in 2001. That match was played with a very young team prior to the Algarve Cup that year. The last time a full-strength U.S. squad played friendly matches in Europe was during a two-game trip to Norway in July of 2000 that followed the USA’s participation in a tournament in Germany.
The match in Norway will be played at the brand new 13,000 seat Fredrikstad Stadium, which opened in the spring of 2007. Fredrikstad is located in southeast Norway about 60 miles south of Oslo and just 20 miles west of the Swedish border.
The match against Sweden will be played at Norvalla Stadium, a small venue in northern Sweden which sits on the eastern coast, flush on the Gulf of Bothnia between Sweden and Finland. The stadium, which is home to the Swedish women’s First Division side Sunnana, seats only a few thousand, but will be expanded to hold as many as 10,000 for the match that will be played just 100 miles below the Arctic Circle.
The U.S. team will leave for Europe on June 27, just six days after returning from the Peace Queen Cup in South Korea, and train for a few days in Norway before facing the hosts in what will be just the third-ever match between the two teams in Norway, an amazing stat considering this will be the 43rd meeting between the historic rivals.
This match in Sweden will carry several historic sidebars, not only in that Sundhage is returning to the country she once captained, but it will also be the first-ever match between the teams on Swedish soil.
Norway is currently fifth in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings while Sweden is third.
“We need to play good, tight games before the Olympics to see if our attacking style is good enough to beat top teams like Norway and Sweden,” said Sundhage, who scored 71 goals for her country and was famously featured on a postage stamp. “We also want to have a look at how good our defending is, playing against fast players and how we deal with players who have a great presence in the air and in the box. Both Norway and Sweden are teams that require disciplined defending and we need patience in keeping possession until we find the right timing to penetrate against what are always well-organized defenses.”
2008 Norway/Sweden Tour
|July 2||Norway||Fredrikstad, Norway||Fredrikstad Stadium||TBD|
|July 5||Sweden||Skelleftea, Sweden||Norvalla Stadium||TBD|