The USA will kick its first ball since the Women's World Cup just 56 days after battling China scoreless for 120 minutes before Brandi Chastain's penalty kick clinched the Americans second Women's World Cup trophy. The U.S. team also jumped quickly back into the fray following the 1995 Women's World Cup, competing in and winning U.S. Women's Cup '95 a little more than a month after defeating China for the bronze medal in Sweden. The team then took five months off before beginning preparation for the 1996 Olympics.
The match against Ireland represents the beginning of preparation for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia that will take place in September. U.S. Soccer's post-Women's World Cup schedule for the Women's National Team in both 1995 and 1999 represents a stark contrast to 1991, when the USA played just two matches in 1992, basically going dormant for 15 months.
"The U.S. team is still enjoying the excitement and popularity generated from the Women's World Cup," said U.S. Head Coach Tony DiCicco, who is two wins away from 100 career international victories. "At the same time we want to use this enthusiasm to start our preparation for Sydney 2000. The team loves to play and they are excited about getting back together, but anytime you play a team for the first time, you have to be prepared for surprises and that's the case for the Republic of Ireland. They are working hard to climb the ladder in Europe."
The Ireland match will be the 25th game of 1999 for the U.S. women. With three games in the NIKE U.S. Women's Cup on the horizon in October, and several other possible fall match-ups in the works, the USA may have its busiest year ever, surpassing the 28 matches played in 1991. With a victory over Ireland, the USA will move within one game of its record for victories in a year, which currently stands at 22, set last year. The U.S. Women are 20-2-2 in 1999. DiCicco will announce his roster for the Ireland match within the next two weeks.
"Since we won the World Cup, we've all been pretty busy with appearances as well as trying to take some time off," said Tisha Venturini, who scored twice in the USA's Women's World Cup victory over North Korea at Foxboro, celebrating the second goal with the now-famous back-flip. "But what we really love to do is to compete together so everyone is looking forward to getting back on the field."
The U.S. women are also gearing up for the NIKE U.S. Women's Cup '99, an annual tournament that began in 1994 and will feature the USA and three teams to be determined. The tournament will be played in a series of three doubleheaders on Saturday, Oct. 3 (in Columbus, Ohio), Thursday, Oct. 7 (in Kansas City, Mo.), and Sunday, Oct. 10 (in Louisville, Ky.). The four teams will each play three games, with the winner decided by record, points and goal differential. The match in Columbus is already sold out while the match in Kansas City has already sold more than 12,000 tickets.