U.S. to Send Two Youth National Teams to 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg
CHICAGO (Tuesday, June 29, 1999) - The United States will be represented at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, by two of its top Youth National Teams, the Under-23 Men's National Team and the Under-18 Women's National Team. The U-23 men's squad will be trying to recapture the gold medal the Americans won in 1991, while the U-18 women will take part in the debut of women's soccer at the Pan American Games.
The men's squad hopes to improve on the performance of the 1995 team that lost all three games and was held scoreless the entire tournament. The American men will play the opening match of the tournament when they take on Cuba on July 23. The remainder of the first round will see the U.S. face Honduras (July 25), Jamaica (July 29) and Uruguay (July 31) in their five-team group. The men's tournament is scheduled for the Winnipeg Soccer Complex and is open to players under the age of 23.
The top two teams from each group in the 10-team competition will advance into the semifinals, which are scheduled for Aug. 3 and Aug. 4. The winners will meet in the championship game on Aug. 7, while the losing teams will face off in the bronze medal game on Aug. 6.
As for the U-18 women, the team will make history in Winnipeg when women's soccer debuts at the Pan American Games. U.S. Women's teams have had unprecedented success at inaugural tournaments in the past, winning the initial Women's World Cup in 1991 and the first-ever women's soccer Olympic gold medal in 1996. The tournament is limited to players under the age of 20.
The American women kick off their tournament against Costa Rica on July 23 and will follow that with first round matches against Mexico (July 25), Trinidad & Tobago (July 29) and Canada (July 31). All four opening-round matches will be played at Red River College in Winnipeg.
The women's semifinals will feature the top four teams in the five-team tournament squaring off on Aug. 2 at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex. The women's bronze medal game will be played on Aug. 4 with the gold medal match to be played on Aug. 5.
The U.S. won its only Pan American soccer gold medal in 1991 in Havana, Cuba, topping Mexico 2-1 in overtime on a spectacular free kick from Joe-Max Moore. The only other time the U.S. has earned a medal at the Pan-Am Games came in 1959 when the U.S. placed third in Chicago with a 4-2 record.
Current U.S. Men's National Team players who have participated in past Pan-Am Games include Claudio Reyna, Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel, Eddie Pope and Cobi Jones. The U.S. has compiled an all-time record of 17-29-5 since participating in their first Pan-Am Games tournament in 1959. Since that time, the U.S. has participated in the quadrennial event 10 consecutive times.
The Pan American Games are second in size only to the Olympics and are held every four years during the summer preceding the Summer Olympiad. An estimated 5,000 athletes from 42 nations will compete in 41 different sports at the 1999 games. Rosters for both U.S. teams will be announced next week.