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U.S. to Open Women's World Cup Qualifying on Sunday at CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup


SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Thursday, October 24, 2002) - The U.S. Women’s National Team arrived in San Diego Monday for five days of training in preparation for the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, the most important tournament for the U.S. Women since the 2000 Olympics as the squad will be competing for a berth at the 2003 Women’s World Cup in China. The USA will head to Los Angles on Friday and open the tournament against Mexico on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. PT.  The top two finishers in the Women’s Gold Cup will earn this region's two automatic berths to the 4th Women’s World Cup, which will be held in China from Sept. 24 - Oct. 11, 2003.  It will be the second Women’s World Cup hosted by China after staging the inaugural event in 1991.  To earn its slot, the USA must advance to the Gold Cup championship game by virtue of finishing in the top two in its group and then winning its semifinal match. U.S. head coach April Heinrichs has chosen 18 players to represent the United States as they enter the third Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament in the program’s history, with the first two being the CONCACAF Qualifying competitions in Haiti in 1991 and in Montreal in 1994.

 
WOMEN’S GOLD CUP MATCHES LIVE ON FOX SPORTS WORLD: All 16 of the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup matches will be broadcast live on Fox Sports World, meaning fans across the country can watch the USA’s qualifying campaign for China ‘03.  Additionally, 13 of 16 Women's Gold Cup matches will also be shown live on Fox Sports en Espanol, with the remaining three matches being aired on tape delay.  Fans can also follow all of the USA's matches live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics.
 
U.S. WOMEN’S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING SCHEDULE: The 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup Tournament will be held from Oct. 27-Nov. 9 at four venues on the West Coast of the United States and Canada with the championship match at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. on Saturday, Nov. 9.  The eight-team tournament, which features two groups of four teams each, will take place at Titan Stadium in Fullerton,Calif., at Centennial Stadium in Victoria, Canada and at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wash., as well as at the world-famous Rose Bowl, site of the 1984 Olympic Final, the 1994 World Cup Final and the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final.  All of the group matches will be played as doubleheaders.
 
14 DAYS TO CHINA: The U.S. will open the tournament on Sunday, Oct. 27, against Mexico at the Rose Bowl, before taking on T & T on Tuesday, Oct. 29 at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif.  The USA’s third group match will be played on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Safeco Field in Seattle against Panama. Should the U.S. qualify for the semifinals, the team will stay in Seattle, as both semifinals will be played as a doubleheader at SAFECO Field on Wednesday, Nov. 6.  Those semifinal matches will decide the two automatic CONCACAF berths at the 2003 Women’s World Cup.

ROSE BOWL REVISITED: The Women’s Gold and third-place games will be played on Saturday, Nov. 9 at the world famous Rose Bowl, which has previously hosted the 1984 Olympic Soccer Final, the 1994 World Cup Final and the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final.  The opening match of the tournament against Mexico will be the first appearance at the Rose Bowl for the U.S. women since the historic 1999 Women’s World Cup Final on July 10, 1999.
 
EIGHT YEARS BETWEEN QUALIFYING MATCHES: The U.S. women will have to do something in 2002 that they have not had to do since 1994 -- qualify for a Women’s World Cup. As the host of the1999 event, the USA got an automatic berth. But even as the reigning Women’s World Cup champions, the USA will still have to qualify as there is no automatic berth allotted to defending world champions.  The U.S. women have not played a Women’s World Cup qualification match since Aug. 21, 1994, when the Americans downed Canada, 6-0, to win the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Montreal.  The USA had earned its berth to the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sweden with an 11-1 thrashing of T&T in the semifinals.  Of the 18 players named to this 2002 CONCACAF Qualifying roster, seven played on that 1994 team: Briana Scurry, Joy Fawcett, Tiffany Roberts, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm and Tiffeny Milbrett.  When the USA kicks off against Mexico, it will end a stretch of more than eight years and 182 matches between qualification games.
 
USA IN WOMEN’S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: The USA holds a 9-0-0 record all-time in Women’s World Cup qualifying, but in a somewhat unique circumstance in international soccer, the match against Mexico on Oct. 27 will be the first ever qualifying match for the U.S. women on home soil. The USA played five matches in 1991 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to qualify for the 1991 Women’s World Cup. The USA had to win that tournament in Haiti in order to earn its berth, and did so with 5-0 win over Canada in the championship game as Michelle Akers had a hat trick.  Kristine Lilly and April Heinrichs scored the other two goals. The USA won its first four matches of that tournament by double-figures, notching two 12-0 wins and two 10-0 wins to outscore their opponents by 49-0 total.  In 1994, the USA had to finish in the top two to qualify for the 1995 Women’s World Cup in Sweden, and did so easily, winning the tournament while scoring 36 goals and allowing one.
 
CHASTAIN NETS FIVE IN FIRST EVER QUALIFYING GAME: Brandi Chastain accomplished a feat in her first ever Women’s World Qualifying match that is likely never to be repeated.  Not only did she score five goals against Mexico on April 18, 1991, but she did it after coming on as a substitute, and the goals were the first five of her international career.  Chastain scored two more goals in the tournament, both off the bench, upping her career total to seven goals in three WWC qualifying games, but she has never started a Women’s World Cup qualifying match.
 
ALL-TIME LEADING SCORERS IN WWC QUALIFYING: Michelle Akers is the USA’s all-time leading scorer in Women’s World Cup Qualifying with 17 goals, 11 in 1991 and six in 1994. Mia Hamm is second with 11, five in ‘91 and 6 in ‘94.  Carin Gabarra is right behind her with 10, five each in both previous qualifying tournaments while U.S. head coach April Heinrichs is fourth, scoring all eight of her career qualifying goals in ‘91. Kristine Lilly has seven, 2 in ‘91 and 5 in ‘95, while Brandi Chastain also has seven, all in ‘91.
 
FAWCETT TO GET 200th CAP: During the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, U.S. defender Joy Fawcett should become just the fourth player in the history of international soccer to play 200 times for her country.  Fawcett is just two caps away from 200, a number she would reach should she play against both Mexico and T&T, with the 200th coming in Fullerton, Calif., just a short distance up the freeway from her hometown of Huntington Beach, Calif.  Fawcett, who took time off from the national team in three separate blocks to have three daughters, should join teammates Lilly, Hamm and Foudy in the ultra-exclusive 200-cap club.

MILBRETT RETURNS: After missing the last two events while resting after a grueling WUSA season, two-time Chevrolet Female Athlete of the Year Tiffeny Milbrett is back in the fold.  Milbrett, who has 88 career goals and is just 12 shy of the magical 100 mark, is the only change in the 18-player roster from the 2002 NIKE U.S. Women’s Cup, as she replaces Abby Wambach.
 
THE O’REILLY FACTOR: Seventeen-year-old Heather O’Reilly, who attends East Brunswick High School in New Jersey, is by far the youngest player on the roster, but will not be the youngest ever to play for the USA in qualifying.  That distinction belongs to Tiffany Roberts, who was 17 years, 3 months and eight days old when she played her first qualifier against Mexico on August 13, 1994.  O'Reilly, born January 2, 1985, is already several months older. O’Reilly, as part of the “new Triple-Edged Sword,” was one of the stars of the USA’s 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship team, scoring four goals and recording seven assists as the USA won the historic inaugural world championship.  O’Reilly performed well enough in her three events this year to earn one of the coveted spots on the qualifying roster.  She has scored 18 goals in 18 Under-19 internationals, but scored her first full international goal against Italy in the clinching match of the 2002 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup, running onto a pass from Julie Foudy to half-volley her shot from close range and open her account on the senior level.  One of the stars of the future and possessing world-class speed and work rate, O’Reilly is a highly entertaining striker with a thirst for goals who should provide some excitement for the fans during the Women’s Gold Cup.

STAT OF NOTE: The USA has scored a total of 85 goals in nine WWC qualifying games and allowed just one, that in 1994 to Trinidad & Tobago (in an 11-1 victory), its opponent in the second match of the 2002 Women’s Gold Cup.

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