CHICAGO (Wednesday, April 23, 2003) - U.S. Soccer announced today that the U.S. Women's National Team will play Canada this Saturday (April 26) at 12 p.m. ET at RFK Stadium, after Nigeria was unable to clear proper travel visas for their trip into the United States. The USA-Canada match will be televised live on ESPN2 and is part of a WUSA doubleheader featuring the host Washington Freedom and the Atlanta Beat at 2:30 p.m. ET.
The U.S. Women were originally scheduled to play Nigeria in the international exhibition on Saturday, but the African nation's inability to properly clear their travel visa in a timely fashion has resulted in the opponent being switched. Canada had been scheduled to play Nigeria in two international matches in the United States last week, but was forced to cancel those games when the Nigerian's were unable to clear visas for that event as well.
"We gave Nigeria every opportunity to process their paperwork with the U.S. Consulate in Lagos," said U.S. Soccer Secretary General Dan Flynn. "They've had more than six weeks to make the proper travel arrangements since we first announced the match in early March, but their delay in the procedure has precluded them from traveling in a timely way for such an important match in our Women's World Cup preparation.
"Although we have given Nigeria every opportunity to make this game happen, and it is a game we very much wanted to play as part of our preparation, it is our good fortune that the match can still go on as scheduled with Canada traveling into D.C. on short notice."
The match against Canada will mark the second meeting between the two nation's in 2003, after the countries battled to an exciting 1-1 draw in the opener of last month's Algarve Cup in Portugal, a tournament eventually won by the U.S. In total, the U.S. has played Canada 30 times, amassing an impressive 24-3-2 record. However, in their last seven meetings, the U.S. is just 3-2-2 against their northern neighbors, who have developed recently into one of the world's top teams, behind the play of forwards Charmaine Hooper (Atlanta Beat) and Christine Sinclair (University of Portland), defender Sharolta Nonen (Atlanta Beat) and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc (Boston Breakers).
"Every time we play Canada we know we are going to be challenged to the extreme," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs. "The most important thing for us in looking at our Women's World Cup preparation is to play games, and there is no question that any game against a World Cup opponent like Canada will be great preparation for our players. We don't feel like we played our best against them in the tie in Portugal, so this will be a great chance to improve on that game."
Tickets for the doubleheader ranging in price levels from $20 to $40 are still on sale at all Washington-Baltimore area Ticketmaster outlets, at the RFK Stadium box office, on-line at ussoccer.com, and by phone at 202-432-7328 (Washington), 410-481-7328 (Baltimore), 703-573-7328 (Northern Virginia) and 800-551-7328 (out-of-state). Washington Freedom full season ticket packages (which include a ticket for the doubleheader) and group discounts are available through the Freedom at 202-547-3137.
The game will be the fifth appearance for the U.S. Women at RFK Stadium, home of the WUSA’s Freedom and D.C. United of Major League Soccer. Long a popular venue for the U.S. men, this will be the first U.S. Women’s match at RFK since 1998, when the USA defeated New Zealand, 5-0, in the first part of a doubleheader that also featured the send-off match for the U.S. men to the 1998 World Cup. The U.S. WNT has won all four of their matches at RFK Stadium, playing there for the first time on Aug. 6, 1995, a sudden death overtime victory over Norway in the Nike U.S. Women’s Cup, which was also the first-ever live television broadcast of a domestic women’s match.