FOUDY, FAWCETT AND HAMM BOW OUT AFTER 18 YEARS: Women’s soccer pioneers and legends Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett and Mia Hamm make their final appearances for the U.S. Women’s National Team Wednesday night after 18 years of groundbreaking success, which included two Women’s World Cup titles and two Olympic gold medals, as well as helping their sport reach heights never previously thought possible. The three played before the largest crowd ever to watch a women’s sporting event at the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final, which was just one milestone in their amazing legacy. The trio will be honored before, during and after the match with various ceremonies to mark the end of careers in which they have done so much for their sport. The match will also mark the finale of the highly successful 10-game “Fan Celebration Tour.” The USA has gone 7-1-1 on the tour so far, tying and losing to Denmark in the two most recent matches, but the squad is excited and ready to send their legendary teammates out on a high note. For the first time on the tour, all 18 members of the 2004 Olympic champions will be in attendance as UNC’s Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O’Reilly fly in between final exams to play in the match. The USA is led by 24-year-old star Abby Wambach, scorer of the winning goal in the 2004 Olympic gold medal victory over Brazil. Wambach has scored 11 goals in nine “FCT” games so far, including all five of the USA’s scores in the 5-0 win over Ireland on Oct. 23 to tie a U.S. record for goals in a game. She has had two goals and one assist in the tour’s opening match back on Sept. 25 in her hometown of Rochester, N.Y., as the USA pulled off a dramatic 4-3 victory over Iceland. So far the USA has scored 31 goals during the FCT and allowed eight. In addition to seeing Mia Hamm score five goals on the tour to extend her world-record mark to 158, the “FCT” has also seen a bit of history. On Oct. 3 against New Zealand in Portland, Ore., midfielder Kristine Lilly scored the 100th goal of her illustrious career. Lilly added goal 101 in the USA’s a 6-0 win over the Kiwis in Cincinnati on Oct. 10. The USA got its biggest crowd of the tour so far in a 1-0 win over Mexico in Kansas City on Oct. 16 as 20,435 turned out at Arrowhead Stadium. The “FCT” has averaged more than 15,000 fans a game.
USA vs. MEXICO PREVIEW: Amazingly, this will be the fifth meeting between the two teams in 2004, trying a record for second most matches against a single country in a calendar year (the USA played China five times in 1991, Canada five times in 2000 and Norway eight times in 2000). The USA is 14-0-0 all-time vs. Mexico, including four wins in 2004, with the most recent meeting a 1-0 victory in Kansas City on Oct. 16. The USA’s meeting with Mexico in the championship match of the 2004 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament was one for the ages. That clash in San Jose, Costa Rica, was perhaps the most exciting game ever between the two countries. The USA went down 2-0 after just 15 minutes as Maribel Dominguez scored two lighting strikes. Midfielder Lindsay Tarpley pulled a crucial goal back on a header just before halftime and then the U.S. came out after the break on a mission, peppering the Mexican goal with shots until Abby Wambach equalized on a brilliant solo effort just 11 minutes from the end of the game. U.S. captain Julie Foudy then dramatically won the match in the 84th minute, striking a rebound through goalmouth traffic, off the right post and into the net to give the USA the regional title. Mexico is experiencing a high point in its women’s soccer history having qualified for the 2004 Olympics and advanced to the quarterfinals out a group that included Germany and China. Mexico pulled off two great results, tying China 1-1 and losing to Germany, 2-0, to advance, before falling 5-0 to a very talented Brazil team in the quarterfinals. While several of Mexico’s stars are not on the roster, including Dominguez and UCLA forward Iris Mora, who helped the Bruins to the NCAA Final Four last weekend, the young Mexicans showed their talent and pluck in the 1-0 loss in Kansas City. Head coach Leo Cuellar has once again chosen to call in a young group that promises to play a highly competitive match and the growth that Mexico has made since the 1999 Women’s World Cup has been inspirational in women’s sports.
A LOOK AT THE MEXICO: Mexico is one of the most improved women’s soccer countries in the world since becoming the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for a Women’s World Cup in 1999. (Mexico was also the first Spanish-speaking country to qualify for the Olympic women’s soccer tournament). Mexico’s plays an exciting style featuring an extremely united mixture of Mexican-Americans and homegrown talent. Mexico is without its top two goal scorers and will have trouble finding the net without star forward Maribel Dominguez, who put her team on her back and led them to an Olympic berth with an amazing nine goals in qualifying, and UCLA star Iris Mora, who adds some feistiness to the attack. Mexico starting goalkeeper Jennifer Molina was injured in training in Mexico and was forced to miss the match, but the former Colgate star has proven to be the best ‘keeper in her country’s short women’s soccer history. Pamela Tajonar, who played well against the USA in Kansas City in October, should fill in for her. Mexico’s captain is former Notre Dame and Boston Breakers player Monica Gonzalez, who will be Mexico’s most experienced player on the pitch, although the diminutive but skillful Monica Vergara has more caps at 53. With such a young team, as Cuellar has brought mostly U-21 and U-19 aged players, the match may serve as valuable experience for a team that has eight players who would be eligible to play in the 2004 U-19 World Championship in November in Thailand had Mexico qualified. Mexico has always struggled with the USA athletically, and while they have improved, the young Tricolores will be hard-pressed to slow the U.S. attack on what promises to be a chilly night at the Home Depot Center.
PILES OF CAPS: The U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team has four active players with 200 or more caps (Lilly, Hamm, Foudy and Fawcett) and five players with 100 or more caps (Brandi Chastain, Cindy Parlow, Briana Scurry, Christie Rampone and Kate Markgraf), numbers that are never likely to be equaled ever again after the veterans of the 1991 Women’s World Cup retire. The five U.S. players who were members of the 1991 WWC Team (the four 200-cappers and Chastain) have a combined for 1,264 caps.
STATS OF NOTE: The USA has scored 99 goals in its 33 matches so far this year (which includes benefiting from two own goals), while allowing 23. Abby Wambach leads the team in scoring with 29 goals and 13 assists, while young Lindsay Tarpley scored eight goals with three assists while not playing any FCT games prior to tonight. It is the third best scoring performance for a 20-year-old in U.S. history, but just one point behind a then 20-year-old Julie Foudy and nine points behind a then 20-year-old Kristine Lilly. Mia Hamm has 14 goals and a team leading 20 assists, tied for the highest yearly assist total in her career, while Shannon Boxx has found the net seven times with four assists from her defensive midfielder position. Cindy Parlow has 10 goals and eight assists, hitting double figures in goals in a year for the third time in her career. The U.S. defense has been stellar so far this year, allowing just over half a goal a game on average. In 17 matches against teams participating in the 2004 Olympics, the USA has scored 37 goals and allowed 13, or just under a goal a game. Defender Kate Markgraf has started 31 of the 32 games she has played and 32 of the USA’s 33 games, and along with Abby Wambach, leads the team in matches played. Julie Foudy and Shannon Boxx have played in 31 matches each. Until the Australia match before the Olympics, Boxx had started all 24 games in which she had played since starting national team career in 2003. She now has started 39 of 40 games she has played. Foudy will finish her career eighth on the all-time goals list while Fawcett will finish her career at 13th, and as the highest scoring defender in U.S. history. Chastain has 30 goals, but scored some of them as a forward.
2004 USA WNT BY THE NUMBERS:
0.68 Goals allowed per game by the USA in 2004
2 Overtime games played by the USA in 2004, in the Olympic semifinal and final
2.94 Average goals per game for the USA in 2004
3 Decades in which Lilly, Chastain, Fawcett, Foudy and Hamm have appeared for the National Team
5 Number of players on the U.S. Olympic roster from California, or 27%
5 Most yellow cards in 2004, by Mia Hamm
7 Number of goals needed for Kristine Lilly to become the world’s second all-time leading scorer
11 Times in the last 100 matches that the U.S. Women’s National Team has been shutout.
13 Number of U.S. players who have played more than 1,200 minutes in 2004
16 Number of different U.S. players who have scored a goal in 2004
17 Number of U.S. players to record an assist in 2004
18 Number of matches in 2004, out of 33, that the USA has scored three or more goals
18 Years that Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Julie Foudy have been playing international soccer
20 Most assists in 2004, by Mia Hamm
27 Number of players used in a full international match by Heinrichs in 2004
29 Most goals in 2004 and second most-ever in a calendar year, by Abby Wambach
43 Career goals by Abby Wambach, putting her 10th on the all-time list at the age of 24
71 Career shutouts of Briana Scurry
76 Number of minutes in 2004 that Abby Wambach averages a goal every…
142 Career assists for Mia Hamm, a world record
158 Career international goals for Mia Hamm, a world record
290 World record for caps of Kristine Lilly
2,722 Number of minutes played by Kate Markgraf in 2004, most on the team
23,423 Number of minutes played for the USA by Kristine Lilly in her international career, or over 390 hours
140,585 Number of fans to watch the USA so far on the “Fan Celebration Tour”
NIKE-GO PROGRAM SUPPORTS SOCCER IN “FCT” COMMUNITIES: For each ticket sold on the tour, Nike will donate $1 in sports equipment to designated programs in each of the tour’s 10 host cities. The company has already targeted partners in the nine announced locations, which consist largely of local Parks and Recreation programs. The donation of Nike soccer product is designed to support the increase in soccer participation among young girls in each city. Nike has also purchased 50 tickets for each game for youth involved with the recipient organization. More than 140,000 fans have watched the U.S. women play on the “Fan Celebration Tour” so far.
“FAN CELEBRATION TOUR” SEES VETERANS BEGIN TO GIVE WAY TO YOUTH: Wambach, who has a team-leading 29 goals in 2004, 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 WWC that knocked Norway out of the tournament and sent the USA to the semifinal. The “Fan Celebration Tour,” which has included 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, has served 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, has given 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 has also celebrated the gold medal victory and given the fans a chance to see some of the legends of the women’s game for a final time, with the true final appearance coming tonight as team captain Julie Foudy, legendary goal scorer Mia Hamm and “Iron-Women” defender Joy Fawcett retire from international play after this match.
2004 IS BANNER YEAR FOR U.S. WOMEN: The USA won all four tournaments it entered in 2004 culminating with the 2004 Olympics. The U.S. team has lost just twice this year, to Sweden and Denmark, but also beat the Swedes in the first match of the year and defeated Denmark at the 2004 Algarve Cup. The USA’s four ties this year – vs. China, Japan Australia and Denmark – were also coupled with wins over those opponents, meaning USA has defeated every team it played in 2004. With 27 wins and one match left to play in 2004, the USA has set the record for wins in a year, breaking the mark of 26 set in 2000. The U.S. broke the record with a win over Ireland on Oct. 23 and achieved 27 wins in just 31 matches. It took the team 40 matches in 2000 to win 26 games. The record for goals in a year is 124, also set in 2000, when the USA played a record 41 matches, but with increased parity in the world of women’s soccer and strong competition this year, the USA’s 99 goals so far means that the record is safe. The chance to hit 100 goals in a year for just the 3rd time in 20-year U.S. history of the program is within reach as the USA comes into this final match with 99.
HAMM LEAVES HER MARK: While Mia Hamm’s impact on the game of soccer will be felt far beyond the stats page, as she has inspired countless young girls throughout her career and played a major role in promoting women’s sports in so many ways in so many places, she will leave behind some startling numbers as well. Currently at 274 caps, Hamm is the second most-capped player in the history of soccer, men or women. She is U.S. Soccer's all-time leading scorer with 158 goals and 142 career assists (by far a team record) for 458 points. Hamm’s 158 goals are so far ahead of the next best scorer (Elisabetta Vignotto with 107), that it is the equivalent of Hank Aaron being more than 225 home runs ahead of the next best slugger.
FOUDY MAKES IMPACT ON AND OFF THE FIELD: While the impact of Julie Foudy on the field has been monumental, and she will go down as one of the greatest leaders in the history of the U.S. Women’s National Team, her impact off the field might be even greater. Foudy played in every Women’s World Cup and Olympic match ever played by the U.S. Women’s National Team, was a four-time All-American at Stanford University and is a four-time world champion with the USA, but that just scratches the surface. She took over as the president of the Women's Sports Foundation following the 2000 Olympics and finished her term at the end of 2002, cementing her status as one of the most influential female athletes in the United States. She was named to a Presidential Commission on Title IX in 2002 and played the major role stopping any changes to the law. She was named #1 on the list of the Most Powerful Women in Sports by The Sporting News in 2003, ahead of Golfer Annika Sorenstam and WNBA President Val Ackerman, to name of few. She also broke new ground with her work as an in-studio analyst for ESPN's coverage of the 1998 World Cup, drawing rave reviews and making her a highly recognizable personality throughout the country, a role she might reprise in the years to come. Foudy, who was accepted into Stanford medical school before her soccer career took off, made a trip to Pakistan during March of 1997 on behalf of her shoe sponsor to see for herself the business of making soccer balls and assure herself that child labor was not involved. For that, she won the 1997 FIFA Fair Play Award for her work against child labor, the first women and first American to win the award. She is also an active spokesperson for Uniroyal's TOPSoccer Program, a group that creates opportunities for kids with disabilities to play soccer. Look for Foudy to continue to make an impact on the world in some way after she hangs up the cleats.
ULTIMATE SOCCER MOM BLAZED THE TRAIL: Joy Fawcett not only did what many thought was impossible - have a child and return to play at the highest levels of international sport - but she did it three times. Fawcett redefined what it meant to be a “working mother,” bringing her kids on the road with her throughout the USA and the world, and personally helped inscribe the term “Soccer Mom” in the American lexicon. Fawcett played soccer just three weeks after having her first child, and came back even quicker and stronger after the next two, intertwining the birth of her three daughters around playing in six world championships for the USA. Fawcett was perhaps the USA most consistent player over her seven World Championships, playing every minute of the last six – three Women’s World Cups and three Olympics – and appropriately ended her career in the 2004 Olympic gold medal match as her second back surgery of the year prevented her from playing on the “Fan Celebration Tour.” She started her career as a midfielder for the U.S. team, but moved to the back in 1991 and stayed there to this day. She finishes as not only the greatest and most consistent defender in history, but also as the top scoring defender in history, with her dramatic game-winning header against Germany in the 1999 Women’s World Cup quarterfinal perhaps her greatest goal.
U.S. WOMEN WILL END 2004 HAVING PLAYED 34 MATCHES: With the 10-game “Fan Celebration Tour” tacked onto a highly competitive 2004 schedule and the Olympic Games, the U.S. team will play the second most matches ever in a calendar year by the time the tour ends. The 34 matches are second only to the year 2000, when the team played an amazing 41 games, or one match every nine days. The 34 matches averages a game every 11 days, and the USA team heads into the final match having lost just twice this year, that to Sweden at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, and to Denmark on Nov. 6, and currently holds a 27-2-4 record. The USA was 7-1-2 against teams in the Olympics prior to the Games, and with a 5-0-1 record at the Olympics, and the victory over Mexico on Oct. 16, carries at 13-1-3 mark against Olympic opponents this year. The “Fan Celebration Tour” will no doubt feature less-pressure packed matches than the first 24 games of 2004, which saw players competing for spots on the Olympic Team, Olympic preparation matches and the Olympic Games themselves, but the players will be no less motivated to end the year the way they started. As many as 35 players trained in Carson, Calif., for a period of three months in the Olympic Residency Camp at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center before U.S. head coach April Heinrichs named the 18-player 2004 U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team on July 1. The U.S. team started residency on April 5 and trained for almost 60 total days (with numerous “double-day” training session mixed in) in that time at the Home Depot Center, ending on Sunday, July 18, as the team broke camp in Los Angeles. That training period followed a highly successful first three months of the year in which the USA won three major tournaments while spending 58 out of 68 days on the road from January 12 through March 20. The USA won the Four Nations Tournament in China in January, won the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in February/March in Costa Rica, and rolled over Norway in the title game of the Algarve Cup on March 20, winning 4-1 behind three goals from Abby Wambach.
END OF AN ERA: This year marked the third cycle of an Olympics after a Women’s World Cup. In 1995, the USA finished third at the WWC and then won the Olympics. In 1999, the USA won the WWC, then finished second at the Olympics. In 2003, the USA finished third at the WWC, which was perhaps a positive foreshadowing for a successful Olympic campaign. Not only that, but in 1995, the USA was knocked out of the tournament by Norway, a team it defeated in the semifinals at the 1996 Olympics. In 2003, the USA was knocked out of the Women’s World Cup by Germany, yes, the team they defeated in the 2004 Olympic semifinal. These 10 matches will mark the end of an era for the U.S. women, but “era” is almost a misnomer, as the five veterans of the inaugural Women’s World Cup Team in 1991 – Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy and Mia Hamm – have essentially been a part of the entire “era” of the U.S. Women’s National Team, all debuting for the USA in the late 1980s. The USA boasts both the Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken of women’s soccer in the world’s all-time leading scorer Hamm (158 goals) and the world’s all-time appearance leader Lilly (290 caps). Lilly and Foudy have played in all 24 of the USA’s Women’s World Cup games and all 16 of the USA’s Olympic matches. The 2004 Olympics were the last world championship event for Hamm, Foudy and Fawcett, who will retire from international competition after the “Fan Celebration Tour” while Chastain and Lilly have decided to continue on as long as their talented legs will take them.