SAN JOSE, Calif. (Wednesday, April 24, 2002) - The U.S. Women's National Team has played eight matches in 2002, but only one so far in the United States, that being a 7-0 victory over Mexico to open the year on January 12. The USA returns to home soil again on Saturday night, April 27, facing Finland at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif. at 7 p.m. ET in a match broadcast live on ESPN2. The match will follow the WUSA clash between the San Jose CyberRays and the Carolina Courage at 4:30 p.m. PT. The San Jose-Bay Area weather has been more than accommodating as the U.S. women have enjoyed three days of sun-splashed training at Santa Clara University in preparation for the match. Five of the U.S. players are current or former Santa Clara players in Brandi Chastain, Aly Wagner (a rising senior), Danielle Slaton, Kylie Bivens and Mandy Clemens, ensuring that none of the team vans will get lost on the way to training. The entire U.S. team will attend a BBQ at Chastain's house this evening.
CHASTAIN TO CHAT WITH FANS THURSDAY ON ussoccerfan.com: U.S. Women's National Team defender Brandi Chastain will chat live with fans on ussoccerfan.com on Thursday, April 25, at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. Chastain, a San Jose native, did not have to get on a plane to join the national team this time, instead hopping in her car for the 10-minute drive from her house to the hotel. Chastain, who will forever be a U.S. Soccer icon after her heroics at the 1999 Women's World Cup, will be online to field questions about the upcoming match vs. Finland, the 2003 Women's World Cup, her San Jose CyberRays defense of the WUSA title and numerous other topics that might interest fans.
LOOKING BACK: The U.S. women are in their 18th year of competition and have played 276 full international matches. The USA has scored 896 goals over that span and is looking for a few more against Finland, perhaps the 900th in team history. U.S. head coach April Heinrichs has brought 18 players into the week-long training camp to prepare for the Finland match, a rare stretch of five days with the national team during the WUSA season. The USA was last together for the Algarve Cup in Portugal in early March, a four-game tournament that saw the USA tie Sweden, 1-1, and defeat England, 2-0, before falling to Norway, 3-2. The USA then defeated Denmark in the 5th place match, 3-2. The USA is 4-2-2 on the year with both losses coming to archrival Norway.
THE ROSTER: Of the 14 WUSA players called in by Heinrichs, only eight are veterans of the 2000 Olympic Team. Of the players who were not in Australia, defender Kylie Bivens and goalkeeper LeKeysia Beene have earned another call-up after solid performances in three national team events so far this year. Forward Mandy Clemens had a fine WUSA season last year and is poised for another. Midfielder Angela Hucles had her finest WUSA match last week, scoring a goal with one assist in helping the Breakers defeat Atlanta, 3-1. Heinrichs also called the second and third WUSA draft choices in Jena Kluegel and Abby Wambach, who replaced the injured Cindy Parlow. The roster is rounded out by four of the top players in college soccer in Cat Reddick (UNC), Aly Wagner (Santa Clara), Hope Solo (Washington) and Christie Welsh (Penn State). Of the 14 WUSA players called in, three each are from the San Diego Spirit and the Boston Breakers, while the Bay Area CyberRays and Philadelphia Charge have two players each. The Atlanta Beat, Carolina Courage, Washington Freedom and the New York Power each have one player on the roster.
DOUBLE DUTY FOR BEENE? Goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene has been given permission by U.S. head coach April Heinrichs to play for the CyberRays in the first game of the unique WUSA-U.S. Soccer doubleheader. While Heinrichs will not choose her starting lineup until Friday, Beene will start for the CyberRays, giving her the chance to be the first U.S. women's player to play for her professional club and the national team in the same day.
USA AT HOME IN BAY AREA: The Spartan Stadium stands will be packed with family and friends of the U.S. players as the U.S. roster is stocked full of local ties. Nine of the players either hail from or went to college in the San Jose/Bay Area. Brandi Chastain, a San Jose native, and CyberRays goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene, who hails from Sacramento, will join current Santa Clara Bronco and reigning NCAA champion Aly Wagner, former SCU stars Kylie Bivens, Mandy Clemens and Danielle Slaton, the #1 pick in the 2002 WUSA draft by Carolina, as well as Los Altos native Lorrie Fair, former Stanford star Julie Foudy and UC Berkeley legend Joy Fawcett. Of the 18 players on the U.S. roster, 10 hail from California and an amazing 12 are from the Region IV, the Western Region for USYS competition.
MAC-NIFICENT: The USA has pumped in 17 goals in eight games in 2002 during which forward Shannon MacMillan has been on a torrid scoring streak. She has 11 of the 17 goals and no other player has more than one. The "Mac Attack" scored her first career hat trick on Jan. 12 vs. Mexico, went two games of the Four Nations Tournament in China without scoring, then tallied in five straight matches, scoring against some of the world tops teams in China, Sweden, England, Norway (2) and Denmark (3). MacMillan scored an amazing seven of the eight U.S. goals at the 2002 Algarve Cup, with the other score notched by 19-year-old Kelly Wilson. MacMillan is far from a U.S. record, however, as Michelle Akers scored in nine straight matches during a stretch in 1991. MacMillan upped her career international goal total to 46, tying Cindy Parlow for sixth place on the all-time list. Throw in her 41 career assists and MacMillan's 133 points put her behind only scoring machines Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett and Carin Garbarra.
HAMM, SOBRERO, PARLOW & HAWKINS NOT ON ROSTER DUE TO INJURIES:Mia Hamm, the world's all-time leading scorer with 129 career goals, will miss her third consecutive national team event as she recovers from knee surgery to clean up meniscus and articular cartilage issues. Defender Kate Sobrero is also recovering from meniscus surgery. Forward Cindy Parlow, who was named to the 18-player roster for the Finland game, was forced to withdraw as she rehabs a right ankle injury and was replaced by the Washington Freedom's Abby Wambach. Midfielder Devvyn Hawkins tore ligaments in her left ankle last week and was also forced to withdraw. She was replaced by Boston Breakers' midfielder Angela Hucles.
FOCUS ON CONCACAF QUALIFYING: The U.S. players come into training camp after completing the first two weekends of the WUSA season and the squad is sharp after a month-and-half pre-season, plus two WUSA matches. All the players are now focused on making an impression to either get, or keep, themselves in the running for a spot on the 2003 Women's World Cup Team. But the U.S. Women's National Team will have to do something in 2003 that they have not had to do since 1994 -- qualify for a Women's World Cup. As the host of the 1999 event, the USA got an automatic berth. But even as the reigning Women's World Cup champions, the USA will still have to qualify as there is no automatic berth given by FIFA to defending women's world champions. The second edition of the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup, to be held sometime this fall, most likely in October, will serve as the Confederation's qualifying competition for 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup. The dates of the competition, along with the format of the final tournament and all qualifying rounds, will be determined at a later date. CONCACAF has two guaranteed spots in the 2003 WWC, with the third-place finisher in the qualifying competition playing the fourth-place team from the Asian Football Confederation for the final spot. The USA, Canada and Mexico are favored to take the top three spots in the region.
USA UNDEFEATED AT SPARTAN AND IN CALIFORNIA, EXCEPT... The U.S. women have played three matches at Spartan Stadium against National Teams and have yet to allow a goal, outscoring their opponents (England in '97, Argentina in '98 and Brazil in '00) by a 16-0 margin. In fact, the U.S. women have never lost a game in the state of California. There is one asterisk however, one slight blemish on the perfect record. That came on February 14, 1999, as the U.S. Women lost to a team of World All-Stars, 2-1, in the first match of its kind that also played host to the 1999 Women's World Cup Final Draw. Canada's Charmaine Hooper scored both goals to earn MVP honors. The last time the USA played at Spartan it was the send-off game prior to the Sydney Olympics, defeating Brazil in a rousing 4-0 victory in front of a sell-out crowd on Sept. 1, 2000.