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U.S. Women to Open 2002 Against Mexico in Charleston, S.C., Live on ESPN2

CHICAGO (Thursday, November 29, 2001) - The U.S. Women's National Team will open what promises to be a busy 2002 schedule on Saturday, January 12, facing regional rival Mexico at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina.  The match, presented by Nike, will kick off at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

"As a team, we're excited to play in a new city and new venue," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs, who will bring a mix of Women’s World Cup and Olympic veterans and rising young stars to South Carolina. "Mexico is a team that has shown only improvement over the past two years and as a member of our region, we are happy to see their progress on the world stage. I am also excited about the chance this training camp and game gives us to look at all the best players in America."

Throughout their history, the U.S. women have played matches in 25 states and Washington, D.C., but this marks the first-ever match in South Carolina. The picturesque Blackbaud Stadium, which opened in the spring of 1999, is the home of the Charleston Battery of the A-League and has a capacity 5,113.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow, November 30, at 10:00 am ET and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas (including Publix and Cat's Music) or by phone at 843-554-6060. Tickets are priced at $35 for VIP Midfield, $25 for sidelines and $18 for the corners. Tickets are also available at Blackbaud Stadium during business hours Monday through Friday. There are no general admission tickets. All seating will be reserved. For complete ticket information for this event, please click here.

The U.S. Women's National Team is coming off one of the lightest years of activity since the late 1980s due to the start-up of the WUSA. The U.S. women played just 10 matches in 2001, but only three of them with a complete roster of veteran players, ending with a convincing 4-1 victory over Germany on Sept. 9 in the USA's first, and only, match of the shortened Nike U.S. Women's Cup. The U.S. players, however, were as active as any time in their career, playing a 21-game professional club schedule for the first time.

The Mexican Women's National Team program is an example of the many positive repercussions of the 1999 Women's World Cup. The tournament jump-started Mexico's Women's National Team, which has seen much-increased activity since that summer when they became the first Spanish-speaking country in history to qualify for a Women's World Cup. Head coach Leonardo Cuellar, a former NASL player and captain of the Mexican National Team, and assistant coach Andrea Rodebaugh, the former captain of the Mexican Women's National Team and star player at UC Berkeley in the late 1980s, have energized the program with the goal of qualifying for the 2003 Women's World Cup in China.

The USA played Mexico just twice before 1998, both in Women's World Cup qualifying tournaments. Since then, the teams have met four times, most recently in Houston, Texas, on December 10, 2000, where Mexico almost pulled off a major upset, taking a 2-1 lead on the USA before Cindy Parlow scored twice in a six-minute span to give the Americans a 3-2 win. The two scores marked the first goals for Mexico ever against the United States.

The USA, Mexico and Canada will be the three favorites competing for the 2.5 spots given to the CONCACAF region for the 2003 Women's World Cup. The third-place finisher in the qualifying tournament, scheduled for October of 2002, will square off against the fourth-place finisher from the Asian qualifying tournament for the final of 16 berths at the 2003 Women's World Cup to be held in four Chinese cities.