CHICAGO (Friday, February 21, 2003) â€“ The U.S. Women's National Team will play its first-ever game in the state of Alabama when the USA faces England on Saturday, May 17, at Legion Field. The match, which will kickoff at Noon CT and will be televised live on ESPN, is the second game to be confirmed of the six domestic matches the U.S. Women will play between now and the 2003 Womenâ€™s World Cup, which kicks off September 23 in Shanghai, China.
While the U.S. men have played at Legion Field, and the stadium hosted matches of the 1996 Olympic Soccer Tournament, this will be the first trip for the U.S. women to the state of Alabama and the historic American football stadium that was originally built in 1927. The match could feature a homecoming of sorts for two U.S. players: the worldâ€™s all-time leading scorer Mia Hamm, who was born in Selma, Alabama, and defender Cat Reddick, the only player in the history of the U.S. Womenâ€™s National Team program to earn a cap who hails from Alabama. In fact, Reddick grew up in Birmingham, where she went to high school at Briarwood Christian School, was a four-time all-state selection and was twice the Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama.
â€œThe fans in Alabama were awesome when our men played there and the city really embraced the Olympics,â€ said Reddick, a UNC junior, who has played 26 times for the full national team. â€œThe fans are starting to learn about the other kind of football and soccer is really growing in Alabama. It is a patriotic community and I know the fans will be so excited to see the U.S. women in their town.â€
Tickets ranging in price levels from $16 to $50 go on sale starting this morning (Friday, February 21) at 10 a.m. CT at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Alabama (including Publix, Coconuts and Wherehouse Music), by phone at 1-800-277-1700, and on-line at www.ussoccer.com. Groups of 20 or more can order through the Alabama Sports Foundation at 205-967-4745 [Click here for complete ticket information].
"We are thrilled to play host to the U.S. Women's National Team here in Birmingham for the first time,â€ said Alabama Sports Foundation Executive Director Gene Hallman. â€œThere is no doubt our partnership with U.S. Soccer and these international games at Legion Field is helping us grow the game of soccer in Alabama."
The USA-England match-up is an intriguing one as the English have put a tremendous amount of time and money into the sport in recent years, and have made great strides with their national team and on the club level. England failed to qualify for the 2003 Womenâ€™s World Cup, falling in a two-game playoff series with France, but has numerous young stars including the â€œMia Hamm of English soccer,â€ forward Kelly Smith of the WUSAâ€™s Philadelphia Charge. The USA and England last met at the 2002 Algarve Cup in Portugal, with the USA gutting out a tough 2-0 victory.
Like all matches in 2003, the England game will carry the added significance of Womenâ€™s World Cup preparation for the U.S., as head coach April Heinrichs continues to formulate her final roster for the Fall tournament and has precious few chances to watch her team in action during the WUSA season.
The U.S. Women have played England seven times in their history, and in fact lost the first two meetings in the 1980s, but have since collected five straight wins while allowing just one goal over those matches to compile a 5-2-0 record all-time.