SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Thursday, June 12, 2003) - The U.S. Women's National Team arrived in Salt Lake City on Monday night and held their first training on Tuesday afternoon at the University of Utah's women's soccer field. Blustery winds and scattered showers greeted the U.S. team, as well as about 800 fans, many of which braved the chilly conditions for autographs after training. The U.S. team was treated to a spectacular sunny day for their morning training on Wednesday, held amid beautiful scenery and the postcard-like panoramic mountain view from the Utah campus. With temperature climbing near 90-degrees, at least 1,000 fans watched the U.S. training, creating a Women's World Cup-like buzz. The fans even played a part in the end-of-training penalty kick competition, as they were encouraged to shout, scream, and cheer by U.S. head coach April Heinrichs to create a game-like atmosphere as the U.S. players took their penalty shots. Without six players who were playing midweek WUSA games, the USA trained with just 17 players for the first three days in Utah. The remaining six players arrived today and went on a light jog and stretch in the afternoon. Today's training at Rice-Eccles Stadium was the first on the FieldTurf surface for the U.S. team, and overall, the pitch got good marks from the U.S. players, several of whom play on the same surface for their WUSA clubs. The USA will also train at Rice-Eccles tomorrow. Heinrichs informed the U.S. team of the Women's World Cup venues before training today (Boston Breakers players Kristine Lilly, Kate Sobrero and Angela Hucles were particularly excited about Gillette Stadium) and Heinrichs and captain Julie Foudy hopped on the media conference call via cell phone immediately after practice.
USA vs. IRELAND ON ESPN2: The USA vs. Ireland match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 on Saturday, June 14 (7 p.m. MT / 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET) in what serves as important Women's World Cup preparation for the U.S. women. The is the second-to-last match before U.S. Women's National Team head coach April Heinrichs picks her 2003 Women's World Cup Team. JP Dellacamera and Wendy Gebauer will call the action on ESPN2. Fans can also follow the game on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
SLC OFFERS A GAME OF FIRSTS: Having been in existence since 1985, having played 297 full international matches and having won almost everything there is to win in international women's soccer, it is not often the U.S. Women's National Team encounters a first. The match against Ireland however will mark two firsts: the first-ever game for the USA in the state of Utah and the first-ever match on FieldTurf, the artificial surface at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
USA vs. IRELAND HISTORY: There's not much. The two teams have met just once, that coming on Sept. 4, 1999, in a Nike Victory Tour match after the 1999 Women's World Cup. The USA won 5-0 on goals from Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy and Tiffeny Milbrett (who tallied twice). Ireland is currently competing in Group 5 of qualifying for the 2005 European Women's Championship and is leading the group after a fine start. In their first three matches, the Irish defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-0, tied Croatia 0-0, and most recently thumped Romania 19-0.
WEDNESDAY GAMES, THURSDAY ARRIVAL: Six U.S. players arrived in Salt Lake City today after playing with their WUSA clubs last night. Those players are Mia Hamm of the Washington Freedom, Tiffeny Milbrett and Christie Pearce of the New York Power, Lorrie Fair of the Philadelphia Charge and Tiffany Roberts and Danielle Slaton of the Carolina Courage. Abby Wambach was originally schedule to arrive today, but a red card ejection in her match last weekend suspended her from the midweek match and allowed her to join the national team earlier in the week.
USA LOOKING TO EXTEND 20-GAME HOME UNBEATEN STREAK: The U.S. women are riding a 20-game unbeaten streak on home soil (18-0-2), dating back to a 3-2 win over Mexico on Dec. 10, 2000, which was preceded by the USA's last loss at home, a 3-1 setback to Canada on November 11, 2000. The USA has defeated Canada three times since then, including a 6-1 victory on April 26 at RFK Stadium. Saturday will mark the 298th full international match for the U.S. women and the USA has scored 970 goals over that span. Cindy Parlow scored the 900th goal against Norway on Sept. 8, 2002.
MILBRETT THREE AWAY FROM 100 GOALS: Tiffeny Milbrett has 97 career goals and with three more, will become just the fifth player in the history of international soccer to score 100 goals. Mia Hamm (139), Italy's Elisabetta Vignotto (107), Italy's Carolina Morace (105) and Michelle Akers (105) are the only four to have accomplished the feat.
STAT OF NOTE: Kristine Lilly has started 241 of her 251 career games for the U.S. Women's National Team.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: U.S. captain Julie Foudy on the world's most capped player Kristine Lilly:
"She brings it hard every day, regardless of if it's the World Cup final or an intra-squad scrimmage."