SEATTLE, Wash. (Friday, November 1, 2002) - The U.S. faces Panama in its third and last Group 1 match of the 2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup on Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m., with a win or a tie enough to earn the U.S. women a spot in the semifinals. The top two finishers in the tournament earn this region's automatic berths to the Women's World Cup, making the semifinal of this tournament one of the most important matches the U.S. women have ever played. The top two teams in each group will "cross over" with the first place team in Group 1 playing the second place team in Group 2 and vice-versa. The only way the USA would not qualify for the semifinals would be to lose to Panama by a large margin, an unlikely prospect, combined with a Mexico win over T&T in the opening game of Saturday's doubleheader. Should the USA qualify for the semifinals, it will play the first game of the doubleheader at 7 p.m. at Safeco Field on Nov. 6. All of the Women's Gold Cup matches are being broadcast live on Fox Sports World, while all the U.S. matches will also be featured live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
U.S. WOMEN EXPERIENCING SEATTLE: The U.S. team arrived in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon after traveling from Southern California where it played its first two Gold Cup games and quickly took advantage of much of what the city has to offer, hitting the downtown shopping district and numerous coffee shops and restaurants. The U.S. team had its first training on a brisk Thursday morning at Seattle University and will experience daytime temperatures in the mid-50s with nighttime temperatures dropping into the 30s for the next week, a large drop from the temperate Los Angeles climate. In the afternoon, about half the team went to renowned Pike Place Market to watch goalkeepers Briana Scurry and LaKeysia Beene, and midfielder Aly Wagner, throw and catch some very large salmon at the famous outdoor fish market. All three U.S. players successfully executed not only the catch, but also the throw of the large, silmy beasts, earning cheers from their teammates, TV cameras and a large crowd that had assembled. Strikers Mia Hamm, who has recovered well from a hard knock on the shin in the match vs. T&T, and Tiffeny Milbrett, who together have 224 international goals, made a late afternoon tour of the local TV news stations, doing two live shots and one taped segment. Members of the U.S. team are scheduled today to visit a children's hospital in the morning before getting their first look at Safeco Field tomorrow evening during training. The infield at the home of the Seattle Mariners has been covered with sod and should provide a great pitch for the four matches to be played there.
"Even when we don't play on a traditional soccer field, when the fans get into the stadium in Seattle and they are cheering for us, it won't make any difference," said U.S. defender Brandi Chastain. "Seattle has a great soccer community and it will be a soccer stadium once we arrive."
WOMEN'S GOLD CUP TOP SCORERS: Heading into the second round of Group 2 matches tonight in Victoria, B.C. featuring Haiti vs. Costa Rica and Canada vs. Jamaica, Canadian striker Christine Sinclair leads the tournament in scoring after hitting for four in her country's 11-1 opening match win over Haiti. Sinclair, a sophomore at the University of Portland, won the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot at the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship, signifying the MVP and top scorer, as she pounded in 10 goals in six games, but fell to the USA in the title match, 1-0. Following are the top scorers in the Gold Cup so far:
Player (Team) - Goals
Christine Sinclair (CAN) - 4
Amarelis DeMera (PAN) - 3
Charmaine Hooper (CAN) - 3
Monica Gonzales (MEX) - 2
Cindy Parlow (USA) - 2
Silvana Burtini (CAN) - 2
Megan Chavez (CRC) - 2
13 with one goal
STAT OF NOTE: The U.S. Women's National Team has played 283 full international matches in the last 18 years, but has never faced Panama. In fact, the U.S. women have played a Central American country just once, that being an 8-0 victory over Costa Rica at the 2000 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
U.S. goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene before catching her fish at the world-famous Pike Place Market:
"I was nervous. I saw Aly (Wagner) catch her fish, and I was like, 'If a midfielder can catch that thing, I better not drop it.'"