The 2001 NIKE U.S. Women's Cup marks the first tournament competition for the United States since the kickoff of the WUSA. The tournament will be an early test for U.S. head coach April Heinrichs as she begins to formulate plans for next year's CONCACAF qualifying round for the 2003 Women's World Cup to be held in China.
"This will be the first time our players will come together after playing in a pro league for six months," said Heinrichs. "The most exciting aspect is that they will enter the tournament in peak physical and technical condition after having trained daily, and competed in games weekly, while having their competitive edge sharpened. We will come together as a team at a higher level than ever before. We certainly have to get used to playing together again and playing at that speed, but we will the hit the ground running faster than we've ever had for a world class event."
After Germany and Japan open the tournament on Friday, Sept. 7, at a venue to be determined in Chicago, the first of three doubleheaders involving the U.S. women will take place on Sunday, Sept. 9, at Soldier Field. The USA will face Germany (Noon CT) in a match broadcast live on ESPN, followed by long-time Asian rivals China and Japan (2:30 p.m. CT). The tournament will then move to Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, site of matches at NIKE U.S. Women's Cup '99. China and Germany will play at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, followed by the USA playing Japan at 9 p.m. in a match broadcast live on ESPN2.
The tournament concludes on Sunday, September 16, with a crackling doubleheader as the USA faces China at Noon CT in a game broadcast live on ESPN. That match will be followed by an MLS contest featuring the defending champion Kansas City Wizards vs. the Colorado Rapids in Kansas City's regular season finale. The USA-China match marks the first time the two teams have met on American soil since the historic 1999 Women's World Cup Final, won by the USA in dramatic fashion on penalty kicks.
Tickets for the 2001 NIKE U.S. Women's Cup go on sale online and at Ticketmaster on Friday, June 8. Ticket prices for the USA-Germany and China-Japan doubleheader at Soldier Field range from $18-45 and can be purchased at all Chicago area Ticketmaster outlets or fans can order by phone by calling 312/559-1212. Tickets for the doubleheader in Columbus featuring China vs. Germany and the USA vs. Japan range from $18-40 and can be purchased at all Ohio Ticketmaster outlets (614/431-3600) and the Columbus Crew Stadium ticket office. Fans can also call 877/CREWFAN for more ticket information. Tickets for the doubleheader in Kansas City, Mo. range from $13-28 and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets in the Mid-America region and at the Arrowhead Stadium ticket office. Fans can charge by phone by calling 816/931-3330. Group discounts are also available for the tournament doubleheaders. Fans can get more detailed information on NIKE U.S. Women's Cup tickets by logging onto www.us-soccer.com.
The USA has faced Germany at Soldier Field before, winning 4-2 on June 28, 1998, in a friendly match. The next time the two teams met it produced one of the greatest games in U.S. Soccer history as the Americans came from behind twice to defeat Germany, 3-2, in the 1999 Women's World Cup quarterfinals.
The two teams last met on July 22, 2000, in Braunschweig, Germany, as the USA recorded a 1-0 victory in the DFB Jubilee Tournament on a goal from Tiffeny Milbrett. Germany will be coming off the 2001 European Women's Championships taking place in Germany from June 23-July 7 as they try to win their third consecutive continental crown.
"Germany will come to the U.S. Cup very played in as a national team as all of their players will have come straight off their league into the European Championships," said Heinrichs. "We could easily have the European championships in this event."
The USA has a score to settle with Japan as the last match between the two teams yielded a 1-1 draw in the USA's final game of 2000 after 13 consecutive wins for the Americans over the Japanese. Atlanta Beat star Homare Sawa scored for her country while the Bay Area CyberRays Brandi Chastain had the USA's lone goal.
"After our game against Japan following the Olympics, one of the things I'm convinced of is that they are a harder team than they were in the Women's World Cup," added Heinrichs. "They are more assertive and certainly more dangerous and confident in the attacking third. They could be a surprise team that upsets one of the other three teams."
The USA has to go back eight matches to find the last time it beat China in regulation as Tisha Venturini scored the winning goal in stoppage time for a 2-1 victory in Hershey, Pa on April 22, 1999. The USA lost, 2-1, three days later at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. The next meeting was the Women's World Cup Final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. China defeated the USA 1-0 at the Pacific Cup in Australia on May 31, 2000, but the USA rebounded to win the tournament after China lost to Canada on penalty kicks in group play.
The USA and China played to 1-1 ties at both the DFB Jubliee Tournament in Germany in July of 2000 and in the opening round of the 2000 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. The two teams placed twice in January in China, as a young U.S. team performed extremely well, giving up a last minute goal in a 1-0 loss in Panyu before tying the powerful Chinese 1-1 in Hangzhou.
"China is a better team now than they were in the Olympics," added Heinrichs. "They've replaced some of their older players, but it's astounding how quickly their younger players are stepping in at a high level without skipping a beat."
Heinrichs is expected to name her NIKE U.S. Women's Cup roster in August as the WUSA season comes to a close. The rosters of Germany and China are expected to be dotted with their country's WUSA stars while Sawa, Japan's most legendary female player, is expected to represent her country as well.
The USA has had success on the field and in the stands at three of the 2001 NIKE U.S. Women's Cup venues. The USA has played three matches at Soldier Field, including the historic 7-1 trouncing of Nigeria in front of a sold-out crowd at the 1999 Women's World Cup, and have averaged 34,463 fans over those four games. At Columbus Crew Stadium, the USA is 1-1, having defeated South Korea at the 1999 NIKE U.S. Cup, but suffered a shocking loss there to Canada at the end of 2000, 3-1. The USA averaged 15,835 fans over the two games. The USA has played just two games in Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium, a 6-0 victory over Finland in 1999 and a 1-1 tie with Canada in August of 2000, but averaged 28,826 fans over the two matches.
The winner of the 2001 NIKE U.S. Women's Cup will be determined by total points; three for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss. The USA is 10-3-1 vs. Germany, 13-0-1 vs. Japan and 11-7-9 vs. China all-time in its history.
|Date||Opponent||Location||Kickoff / TV||Tickets|
|Sept. 7||Germany vs. Japan||Chicago, Ill.||TBD||TBD / Ticketmaster|
|Sept. 9||USA vs. Germany |
China vs. Japan
|noon CT |
2:30 p.m. CT
|Sept. 11||China vs. Germany|
USA vs. Japan
|Columbus Crew Stadium |
|6:30 p.m. ET |
9:00 p.m. ET
|Sept. 16||USA vs. China |
Wizards vs. Rapids (MLS)
Kansas City, Mo.
|Noon CT |
2:30 p.m. CT