CHICAGO (Sept. 21, 2004) – The U.S. Women’s National Team, fresh off its historic and dramatic gold medal victory at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, begins its 10-game “Fan Celebration Tour” on Saturday, Sept. 25, at Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y. at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Appropriately, the tour begins in front of a sold-out crowd in the hometown of Olympic hero Abby Wambach, who scored the winning goal in the USA’s 2-1 victory over Brazil in the Olympic title match.
The tour continues with another match against Iceland on Sept. 29 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (7:30 p.m. ET), in the first ever appearance of the U.S. women in that city, and then finishes its first leg on Oct. 3 at PGE Park in Portland, Ore., (5 p.m. PT), which hosted matches at the 1999 and 2003 Women’s World Cups, as the USA takes on New Zealand.
Wambach will lead a group of 16 gold medal winners who will participate in the tour, as young stars Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O’Reilly, who scored in the Olympic final and semifinal respectively, have commitments to the nation’s number-one ranked college team at the University of North Carolina.
Wambach, who has a team-leading 18 goals in 2004, is just 24 years of age, but has already scored several of the most important goals in U.S. history. The reigning Chevrolet U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year led the USA in scoring at the 2003 Women’s World Cup (three goals) and the 2004 Olympics (four goals), tallying the lone score in the 1-0 quarterfinal win at the 2003 Women’s World Cup that knocked Norway out of the tournament and sent the USA to the semifinal.
The “Fan Celebration Tour,” which will include seven two-time gold medallists in goalkeeper Briana Scurry, defenders Joy Fawcett and Brandi Chastain, midfielders Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly and forwards Mia Hamm and Cindy Parlow, is serving multiple purposes.
First and foremost, the 10-game tour spread across 10 cities in nine states against five different countries in three different time zones, will give the U.S. players a chance to thank the fans which have been tremendous supporters of the team over the years as well as give fans across the nation the opportunity to cheer on the current world champions. The tour will also celebrate the gold medal victory and give the fans a chance to see some of the legends of the women’s game for a final time as team captain Foudy, legendary goal scorer Hamm and iron-women defender Fawcett play what will be their last matches in a U.S. uniform.
“We’ve always seen the bigger picture,” said Foudy about being able to thanks the fans one last time. “That’s what I have always loved about this group. It wasn’t just about soccer. It was about reaching our fans and loving the game and caring about other issues. Winning was always important, but there was something else to it. We always felt like there was a purpose behind our winning…That’s what I feel like will be our strongest legacy. We weren’t just good soccer players, but we were good people that cared and loved the game and never felt like we were entitled to anything else except for having a ball out there and enjoying it.”
Not all of the players will be able to participate in all 10 matches due to prior commitments. Lilly, the world’s most capped player with 282 games played, and star defensive midfielder Shannon Boxx will miss the first match in Rochester, N.Y., while Mia Hamm will not play against Iceland in Pittsburgh.
Lilly was second on the team in scoring at the Olympics, pounding in three goals in consecutive games, all the key first scores in the final group game, the quarterfinal and the semifinal. The USA won its final three games at the Olympics by 2-1 scores, the final two in 120-minute overtime matches, showing tremendous character and heart, especially against a wildly talented Brazil team in the championship game.
“When I look at this group of players and the way that we have been a part of the team for so long it is an extremely conscientious group,” said Hamm, who will retire at the world’s all-time leading scorer, currently sitting at 153 career goals. “Every day we stepped out on the field, whether it was in practice or a game, we understood that there was a bigger cause out there. Whether it was the things that we saw or heard growing up in terms of opportunities to play and compete or it was the excitement of seeing our crowds grow over the years and our opportunities increase, we wanted to continue to open doors for kids out there, but especially young girls. That’s one of the things that I’ll be extremely proud to have been a part of.”
Ticket information for all “Fan Celebration Tour” matches is available online at www.ussoccer.com. Details on two of the 10 matches are still being hammered out. Yet to be confirmed are the Nov. 6 game against Denmark in a city to be named and one match in December, with a city and opponent to be named.
2004 U.S. WNT “Fan Celebration Tour” Schedule
2004 U.S. WNT “Fan Celebration Tour” Roster
* will not appear on Sept. 25 in Rochester / ** will not appear on Sept. 29 in Pittsburgh
GOALKEEPERS (2): Kristin Luckenbill, Briana Scurry; DEFENDERS (6): Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Kate Markgraf, Heather Mitts, Christie Rampone, Cat Reddick; MIDFIELDERS (5): Shannon Boxx, Julie Foudy, Angela Hucles, Kristine Lilly, Aly Wagner; FORWARDS (3): Mia Hamm, Cindy Parlow, Abby Wambach.
Head Coach: April Heinrichs Gainesville, Va.
Assistant Coach: Tracey Leone Phoenix, Ariz.
GK Coach: Phil Wheddon Monroe, Conn.
General Manager: Nils Krumins Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Doctor: Dr. Sandy Glasson Virginia Beach, Va.
Medical Trainer: Julie O'Connell Chicago, Ill.
Massage Therapist: Scott Street Chicago, Ill.
Equipment Coordinator: Mindy Hammond Columbus, Ohio
Team Security: Mark Pharris Atlanta, Ga.
Press Officer: Aaron Heifetz Hermosa Beach, Calif.