U.S. WOMEN TAKE ON ITALY IN SECOND TO LAST MATCH OF 2003: The U.S. Women's National Team arrived in Kansas City, Mo. today to play the first match of a two-game post-Women's World Cup tour on Wednesday night against Italy at Arrowhead Stadium (6:55 p.m. CT on ESPN2) in what is also the USA's first match since the third-place finish at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup. The USA will train in Kansas City on Tuesday afternoon at Arrowhead before facing an always fiesty Italy tomorrow. The Americans had an excellent Women's World Cup tournament, outplaying each team it faced, but ran into a determined German team with destiny on its side and a world-class goalkeeper in the nets, losing in the semifinal, 3-0, with the final two goals coming in stoppage time as a desperate U.S. team pushed forward for a goal. The USA did send its veterans out winners in their final Women's World Cup match, soundly defeating Canada, 3-1, in the third place match on Oct. 11. The USA is 16-2-3 and 2003, losing only to China in China with a stomach virus-ravaged team, and to Germany on Oct. 5 in Portland, Oregon. The USA 2003 season has been highly successful, with 11 of the 16 wins coming against teams in the 2003 Women's World Cup. The U.S. also won two important tournaments in the first part of the year, taking the 2003 Algarve Cup in Portugal (only the second ever Algarve Cup won by the USA) by beating China in the championship game, 2-0, on March 20. The USA won the Four Nations Tournament in China in January, besting a field also featured China, Norway and eventual Women's World Cup champion Germany. The USA's lone loss this year came to China at the Four Nations Tournament, a setback that was avenged in Portugal. The Americans will play one more match in 2003, facing Mexico in Dallas on Nov. 2, then have some time off before beginning preparation in January for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
MILBRETT ONE GOAL FROM 100: Forward Tiffeny Milbrett, who scored the clinching goal in the USA's 3-1 victory over Canada in the third place match of the Women's World Cup, comes into the game needing just one more goal to become the fifth player in the history of international soccer to score 100 goals. Milbrett, who debuted for the USA in 1991, would join Mia Hamm (144 goals), Elisabetta Vignotta (107), Michelle Akers (105) and Italy head coach Carolina Morace (105) in one of international soccer's most exclusive clubs. While Milbrett's scoring has distinguished her on the international stage, her ability to create goals must not go overlooked. With 61 career assists, she is third on the all-time U.S. list and holds the U.S. record with five assists in a match, coming on June 5, 1997, against Australia. Hamm is the all-time leader with 121 career assists, many of them to Milbrett. In fact, Milbrett earned her 100th cap in the same match that Hamm scored her 100th goal, a 4-0 win over Russia on Sept. 18, 1998, in Rochester, N.Y. In that match both Milbrett and Hamm scored twice, with the two forwards assisting on each other's goals. The USA is 91-4-4 in games in which Milbrett scores.
BOXX SCORES 1,000th GOAL: No player has etched her place in U.S. Women's National Team history quicker than Shannon Boxx. The former New York Power midfielder has had a Cinderella start to her U.S. Women's National Team career, getting named to the World Cup roster without ever playing a match for the USA, then scoring in her first three matches, including the Women's World Cup opener against Sweden. She was the first player in U.S. Women's National Team history to score in her first three games. She was named to the first 11 of FIFA All-Star Team and also scored in the third place match against Canada on a spectacular header, which was also the 1000th goal in U.S. history. Tiffeny Milbrett scored the 1001st goal and the USA now embarks on the long trek, perhaps another 18 years, to the 2000th goal.
USA vs. ITALY HISTORY: The USA has a 6-4-0 all-time record against Italy, losing the first three meetings in the 1980s before recording five straight wins, interrupted only by a 1-0 loss in Rieti, Italy, on March 7, 2001, as the U.S. played with a mostly Under-21 side. The last meeting between the two teams was at the 2002 Nike U.S. Women's Cup, a 4-0 victory in which teenager Heather O'Reilly scored her first international goal while Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett also added scores. Italy, which has a long history in women's soccer, is one of the best teams in the world that did not play in the 2003 Women's World Cup. Head coach Carolina Morace, herself a legend with 105 career international goals for Italy, tied with Michelle Akers for third-best all-time, has talented players at almost every position, including leading scorer Patrizia "The Scorpion" Panico (30 goals in 63 matches) and veteran striker Rita Guarino (18 goals in 82 matches).
SOBRERO TO BE HONORED BEFORE ITALY MATCH: U.S. defender Kate Sobrero will be honored in a pre-game ceremony as the 17th player in U.S. history to play 100 times for her country. On Oct. 28 in the third Group A match of the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup against North Korea, Sobrero earned her 100th cap and the USA defeated the Koreans, 3-0. Sobrero, who is getting married next week, broke into the National Team in 1998, and the following year earned a starting spot on the 1999 Women's World Cup Team. She was also a starter on the 2000 Olympic Team and 2003 Women's World Cup Team, and becomes just the fourth full-time defender to play 100 times for the USA. In 2003, she leads the USA in games played (20), starts (19) and minutes (1530).
USA LOOKS TO OLYMPIC QUALIFYING IN COSTA RICA: The U.S. Women's National Team will attempt to qualify for the 2004 Olympic Women's Soccer Tournament next February and March when the team travels to Costa Rica for the qualifying tournament. It will be the first trip to Central America for the U.S. Women. On Sept. 25, CONCACAF announced that the 2004 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualification Final Round would be relocated from Mexico to Costa Rica and would be played from February 25 through March 7, 2003. The U.S. received a bye through the CONCACAF Olympic preliminaries and will play in Group B. The change in venue for the final round gave Costa Rica a bye through preliminaries and a spot in Group A alongside Canada. Mexico will host a preliminary three-team competition with Honduras and Nicaragua from December 10-14, 2003. Costa Rica was originally scheduled to host that round-robin competition. The qualifying preliminaries include two other three-team competitions. Guatemala hosts Panama and Belize from November 19-23, 2003, and the Cayman Islands host Jamaica and U.S. Virgin Islands from December 3-7, 2003. Rounding out preliminary action, Haiti faces the Dominican Republic in a two-game series October 26 and November 9, and Suriname takes on Trinidad & Tobago in a two-games series on November 9 and 12. The five qualifiers from those preliminaries will join Canada, Costa Rica and U.S. in the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Final Round with two berths to the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece at stake.